After a Fashion
"Christian" Stephen gets thrown into the Austin Music "den" of Stitch(ing) "lions" and emerges beatified
STITCH IN TIME After several years of press releases and invitations, I never received a specific invitation to attend the Stitch Fashion Show this year. But, with my schedule permitting, this was the year I could attend so I did so anonymously. Well, as anonymously as you can when you're me. And when you've had the history of antagonism and acrimony with some of the Stitch principals and their fans that I have. It's been a lot of silliness actually but it made for some entertaining reading, both in this column and in the letters to the editor. The Austin Music Hall was packed to capacity, and there was a line waiting to get in. I confess to having been a bit nervous when I entered much like a Christian thrown into an arena of hungry lions but my nervousness was unnecessary. Shortly after arriving, I ran into producer and designer Karly Hand, whom I've enjoyed meeting in the past (particularly one notable night at Rain) incredibly busy this night, she flew by, smiling and waving. "Ooookay," I said to myself, "Word will spread quickly now." Soon I was approached by Anne Marie Beard (www.annemariepurses.com), the talented purse designer, who told me she was proud of me for coming to the show, and I gave her a big hug, thankful for her graciousness particularly in view of the fact that she'd written a rather incendiary letter to the editor about me not too long ago. At the time, I'd wanted to respond, "But, Anne Marie! I like your work!" But knowing how to dish it out, I certainly know how to take it. And I have a great deal of respect for her. Upon wandering the sizable craft bazaar that was set up, I loved seeing artist Federico showing his Graffiti Western collection (www.artefederico.com), Andrea Burden showing her fabulous jewels (www.gypsyborndesigns.com), Will Heron's T-shirts (www.willheron.com), Kathie Sever's great Western shirts for all ages (www.ramonsterwear.com), and reworked vintage from Slink Whistle Bait (www.myspace.com/slinkywhistlebait). But not all the crafts were fabulous; you know I'd be lying if I said so. But if this craft show seems to be on a mission to prove that it's way cooler than the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, then it proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. The fashion show itself began with a way-too-long speech by someone who appears to have figured out how to make money off of the crafters by uniting them and representing them. The windy speech was drowned out by the chatter of many who were not interested in his seminar, but one of the main points that I was able to understand from him is that, essentially, quality of workmanship is not important. He and I will just have to disagree about that. The show had its high points and low points. What I'd expected to see was certainly there: ill-fitting clothes, poor construction visible from yards away, inappropriate fabric choices, and unflattering silhouettes on "models" who had no business on the runway. The primary crime of fashion was perpetrated by "designers" (for want of a better word for certain aspiring wannabes) who put waaay too many details in a single garment, diluting any possible statement they might have tried to make. But I also saw unexpected things from several designers. Though there were some very cool things from out of state, I'm only going to discuss local designers here. Karly Hand's collection for Identity Crisis Clothing (www.identitycrisisclothing.com) was clever and fresh with clean lines, sharp styling, and playful trompe l'oeil effects. She also had great models who "sold" the clothing well to the crowd; Alyson Fox's accessories (www.alysonfox.com) were delightful and original, though the detail and charm is better viewed at closer range; Kayci Wheatley, owner and designer at Moxie and the Compound (www.moxieandthecompound.com) showed funk and fun in what looked like uniforms for Braniff Airways stewardesses from 1970 (modeled notably well by Nina Bildstein); Tina Lockwood's collection under the name Tina Sparkles (www.sparklecraft.com) was youthful, with bold, vintage styling with a modern edge; Jennifer Perkins jewelry for Naughty Secretary Club (www.naughtysecretaryclub.com) was bright and colorful with great charm and was easy to enjoy from a long distance; the designer for Zimka could use some design assistance but clearly understands showmanship on the runway and presented a segment that was a total knockout; and Chia (www.chiahats.com), whom we have watched learn to sew before our very eyes, presented a gorgeously colored collection of evening gowns in charmeuse, well-sewn and proving that there is indeed a sophisticated side to her sometimes-naive design sense. I enjoyed chatting with many of the designers afterward (the Carlo Rossi Lounge is a terrific marketing campaign that we enjoyed immensely), and I think we all behaved admirably. Am I now a complete convert to the world of crafting? No, of course not. But I do admit to having a great time at the event.