After a Fashion

While the rest of us were battling holiday crowds, your Style Avatar was whooping it up in Buda ... at Wal-Mart

A photo of old New Orleans used as the cover of a night-light, from Heather Elizabeth Designs
A photo of old New Orleans used as the cover of a night-light, from Heather Elizabeth Designs

WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF-MART With Wal-Mart's PR blitz failing badly, don't ask how I wound up spending so much time at the one in Buda – it was an accident, I swear. At first I felt like Jackie O entering Luby's, looking around furtively for paparazzi, then captivated by the selection in front of me. I breezed from the draperies to the furniture section, from the Christmas department to the sewing section, feeling like June Cleaver (but looking like Divine). I must have given the air of some kind of Martha Stewart acolyte; shoppers would overhear me discussing the pros and cons of this-and-such item with my companion and then begin asking me for advice on their items. "Yes, ma'am, that bath mat does pick up the colors of the lotion dispenser, but it doesn't really have to match the toilet brush," I graciously offered one customer. "No," I found myself advising some suburban dad who had clearly figured me for homo (therefore all-knowing about all things window treatment). "I think the black sheers make too strong a statement and that the ivory sheers would complement the drapes." Needless to say, I got a little wrapped up entertaining the Wal-Martians … until I realized how much potential revenue I was bringing to the retail behemoth. Omigod, maybe the PR campaign is working.

YES TO N.O. So much has been said about post-Katrina New Orleans. Austin, among so many cities, has opened its hearts, homes, and services to the multitude of evacuees from a city that Austinites have a special kinship with. New Orleans is far from resurrected, and the tourist trade has not returned there in a profitable way. Like Austin, New Orleans is a city that nurtures its small businesses and independent designers, and many have remained in New Orleans, struggling to stay afloat in lean times. So, in a holiday spirit of camaraderie and compassion for the city in which I was born, I offer a list of very New Orleans businesses that sell their goods online and can help you give unique and thoughtful gifts while helping out the Crescent City. For the sweet tooth on your list, Loretta's Authentic Pralines (lorettaspralines.stores.yahoo.net/index.html) is sheer heaven in a candy box, with divine original pralines, as well as gourmet selections. Trashy Diva, a boutique on Magazine Street (www.trashydiva.com), also sells clothing and accessories from vintage patterns online – charming and totally fresh, with a feel for the past. Garden District Book Shop (www.gardendistrictbookshop.com) specializes in local New Orleans authors and titles of regional interest. Let's Get Up (www.letsgetup.com) sells handmade Mardi Gras-bead light fixtures and other lamps and New Orleans-themed items. The influence of the French is unavoidable in New Orleans, so give in and go to www.vivelafranceonline.com – the next best thing to being in the French Quarter. And lastly, Heather Elizabeth designs New Orleans photograph jewelry and accessories for the home (www.hedesigns.com) that are as romantic as they are original.

RANT It's the holiday season again, and you know what that means: Yes, my annual rant against the annually Horrid Christmas Decorations on Congress. They haven't been pretty for the seven years I've been complaining about them. What is the point of making Downtown so attractive to residents and businesses and them undermining those efforts with the insult of hideous, dated holiday tinsel?

SAD NEWS After the Christmas holidays, Austin will lose one of its most popular and oldest locally owned and operated retail establishments. In business for 54 years, the Cadeau, with locations on the Drag and in Central Park, will close its doors. Owner Jeanette Nassour's husband and partner, Ferris Nassour, died recently while on a buying trip to New York. The Nassours have been major supporters of the Austin performing and fine arts. They were founding members of the Austin Lyric Opera and major supporters of the Austin Museum of Art, the Blanton Museum, and the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Best of everything to you, Jeanette.

AGENDA Saturday, Dec. 2, 10am-2pm, Bouldin Creek neighborhood, home to a multitude of diverse studios, is having the Bouldin Creek Studio Tour featuring artists such as Brian Bowers, Stella and Brian Alesi, Stephanie Lindsey, Leslie Bonnell, Andrea Sher-Leff, Kathie Sever, and Shannon Lowery. Go to www.bouldincreekstudiotour.com for complete info… Also Saturday, Dec. 2, 6pm at 5412-A McCandless, photographer Mary Sledd and developer Robert Nash present Open House, a photographic installation by Sledd in a property developed by Nash's Skyline CityHomes. This partnership features a mix of photographic works in multiple mediums selected to simulate the decor of a living space… Additionally on Saturday, Dec. 2, 8pm-12mid, Project Transitions presents the 18th annual Holiday Swing at the Dell Jewish Community Center. See www.projecttransitions.org for further info.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin style, Austin fashion, gossip, trends, Wal-Mart, holiday shopping, The Cadeau, Nassour, Bouldin Creek, Mary Sledd

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