After a Fashion

Stephen weighs in on city planning issues ... at least ones regarding how certain things look. Other than that, he drops a lot of names and tells you where to go. For Valentine's Day, silly.

A Sharon Ely black velvet jacket up for auction at the 
Glorious Velvet Valentine benefit
A Sharon Ely black velvet jacket up for auction at the Glorious Velvet Valentine benefit (Photo By Matthew Fuller)

WORDS OF THE WEEK: New York Daily News gossip columnist Ben Widdicombe, upon being told that Donald Trump's new bride would not be carrying flowers down the aisle since they might interfere with her dress, queried, "What will she throw? Money?"

URBANE RENEWAL Looks like the waterfront along Town Lake east of Lamar is about to explode. Apparently the historic power plant and the area around it will be developed for retail and residential projects. I definitely understand the attraction of living downtown, but where exactly are all these new retailers who are clamoring to be there? Expectations are great for the newly designed Second Avenue District, and whatever happens there should indicate how the projects west of it will fare, but the project is still in its infancy. Imagine the traffic nightmare that will develop on Cesar Chavez, not to mention the crippling street closures. Given the ugly fact that this kind of redevelopment is inevitable, the best we can hope for is that the new projects will retain some of the character of the area. I'm no student of city planning of course (I'm a male actress and social commentator), but I completely understand the point of view of longtime residents who want to preserve Austin exactly like it is. Unfortunately, I don't really believe that is realistic. All this development is going to happen whether we like it or not, and if we have to suffer through the noise, reroutings, and other inconveniences, at least make these new projects visually interesting like the new City Hall – and not like the hideous boxlike structure that is going up east of the Frost Tower and will eventually be our tallest building.

'TIS THE SEASON Come enjoy lovely libations on Friday, Feb. 11, as Shiki celebrates Valentine's Day with a trunk show of the Marnie Bugs handbag collection. The Valentinis will flow all day, and to sweeten the invite, there will be plenty of discounts on merchandise. See for details… Our good friend Patty Hoffpauir, proprietress of the ultra-stylish Garden Room, tells us that one of her favorite jewelry designers, Bonnie Basham from Dallas (her jewelry has appeared in Lucky, Town & Country, In Style, and D), will be at the Garden Room, Friday-Saturday, Feb. 11-12, for their Valentine Party. Basham, who uses a great deal of horn in her pieces, will be on hand to discuss her work and to work with customers. Sounds like a good time to me. (They're serving chocolates and Flirtinis!) Also on Saturday, Feb. 12, the most wonderful, amazing, stylish, and bizarre event of the year comes around: the Art Erotica auction and dance party benefiting the Austin AIDS Emergency Fund for AIDS Services of Austin from 9pm-1am. It is produced by Gary Cooper, Richard Hartgrove, and the Octopus Club, whose recent Octo Tea Dance at the Oasis raised $46,155 for the fund. Be titillated, amused, or maybe even shocked at the provocative art and provocative personnel, but in the name of a great cause, get dressed up in your most provocative outfit, prepare to be generous, and have a great time at one of Austin's coolest events. Tickets are $25, and go to for more info… On the subject of excellent causes, Sunday, Feb. 13, brings the Glorious Velvet Valentine, a musical and comedic fashion show, to benefit the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Austin. Held at the Old Glory Ranch in Wimberley, this glorious event, starring Joe Sears and Jaston Williams of Greater Tuna, singers Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Kimmie Rhodes, Colin Gilmore, Jo Harvey Allen, and others, begins with cocktails at 5pm followed by dinner provided by Word of Mouth Catering and drinks served by miniature donkeys(!). Featured in the show will be black velvet jackets designed by the divine Sharon Ely (Mrs. Joe, natch) and painted by a variety of artists, including Joe Ely, Jim Franklin, and Guy Juke, among others. Tickets are $150 per person, $1,500 per table of 10, and $3,000 per sponsor table of 10. For information and reservations, please visit or for more details… Mark your calendar for Valentine's Day night, Monday, Feb. 14, 8pm, at Sidekicks (119 E. Riverside); I honestly can't tell you what to expect from Burlesque for Peace: Burlesque Without Borders, except that it is raising money for Doctors Without Borders, which is also an amazing and very worthy nonprofit. The show itself features members of Kitty Kitty Bang Bang ( and Burlesque for Peace ( joining forces to put on what will surely be an unforgettable evening. You'll find more info at their respective Web sites.

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