After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar packs away his trunk

<i>My</i> favorite Tex-Mex for a decade now has been Maudie's. Here are Laila Sanii (l) and Negeen Mosley (r), who head up Maudie's catering operations, serving up their signature hospitality at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden Party.
My favorite Tex-Mex for a decade now has been Maudie's. Here are Laila Sanii (l) and Negeen Mosley (r), who head up Maudie's catering operations, serving up their signature hospitality at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden Party. (Photo by Seabrook Jones/www.juicythis.com)

BORN IN A TRUNK I think I've worked the last garage sale that I ever want to work. I've had so many myself over the last few years as I divested myself of a lifetime of collections that just seemed to weigh me down, so really, I just don't have anything left to get rid of. My mom did, however, and we wanted to clean out the garage as well, so I got down to business organizing. Months ago we'd started piles of things we didn't want anymore – everything from a wood chipper to old holiday decorations. As the sale day arrived, I went back into the garage for something, and a big, black rolling trunk in the corner caught my eye. It was a lightweight but heavy-duty salesman's trunk on wheels (also called a "coffin"). You'd see them all over New York in the Garment District, loaded with sample clothing and being wheeled from one building to another, and since I was also schlepping samples all over New York, I had invested in one of those trunks, too.

It was that very trunk, emblazoned with my company's name, Made in Heaven, that was wheeled through the doors bearing orders for Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, Frank Stella, and all the other stores I sold to. One season, it held corset-style vests in magnificent 18th and 19th century fabrics; another season, it was silk brocade men's formal wear; and yet another season, luxurious Christmas decor. Sometimes I used it to store scrap fabric, and sometimes I would use it to pick up the used fashion books that I bought like a madman. It was as much a part of my life as my wallet and house keys. The trunk traveled from coast to coast on several occasions – sometimes carrying my design work, sometimes carrying personal possessions. It traveled with me as I relocated from New York to Seattle and finally to Austin. I think I used the trunk a few times when I first moved here but mainly kept it in storage since I no longer had a need to drag tons of samples around with me. But I just loved that trunk.

More than any single collection that was jammed into it, what it really carried was my fashion history. It saw me go from a young design-school graduate to selling clothes in some of the best stores in the world. It was the trunk I used to carry samples to W, Women's Wear Daily, and the other fashion papers that covered my work. But last weekend, as I stood in the garage and looked at that old black trunk, I realized I hadn't used it in years and was unlikely to be using it again. So I pulled it out and put it in my mom's sale. I suppose the years of use were pretty obvious, but it was still strong and functional. At the end of the day, after we'd made all our sales, the trunk was still there. I could just wheel it back into the garage, but that defeated the purpose of trying to get rid of unused items. So I decided to leave it at the curb to donate to the company that was coming to pick up our leftovers and discards. And I almost wept. No, I didn't have to get rid of it, but I was ready to. I just never dreamed it would hurt so much.

THE GARDEN OF EATIN' I missed last year's Umlauf Sculpture Garden Party for the first time in 10 years – strange, since it is one of the most charming and relaxed events of the year. This year marked the museum's 20th anniversary, as well as the 100th anniversary of Charles Umlauf's birth. The layout of the party spread farther into the gardens this year, offering more places to wander. Not to mention, it seemed that the selection of restaurants serving food was even more divine than ever before. I'm still dreaming of Fleming's gazpacho with ceviche, Truluck's crab-cake sliders, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill's corn-dog-battered shrimp, and everything that Maudie's Tex-Mex served – and that's just four out of the 23 restaurants represented.

TRUE CONFESSIONS I'd rather you hear it from me than anyone else: I attended a "fashion party" last week. Scandalous, I know. Jill McGuckin practically inundated me with notifications of this party, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Wilhelmina Brown agency. Going to a fashionable party is one thing, but I'd rather eat broken glass than go to a fashion party. Dawn Younger-Smith of Boudoir Queen showed a new collection, and Evie Evan sent out models with deliriously fabulous styling. Photographers, models, designers, hairdressers, and all sorts of wannabes abounded; they made me feel like visiting royalty. My trusty photog Seabrook Jones and I hung out with Justin Brown and Lala Elliott of Wilhelmina, Connie Bakonyi of the Austin Fashion Association, and stylist Ricky Hodge, along with Neil Diaz and a thousand other folks. Did I have fun? Yup, I sure did. Do I want to go to parties like this all the time? No way; they're just too much work.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin style
The Good Eye: Where Everybody Sews Your Name
The Good Eye: Where Everybody Sews Your Name
Leslie Bonnell’s Stitch Lab insists that you are not a number

Amy Gentry, May 30, 2014

After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time
Fort Lonesome will not be lonely for long

Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 5, 2013

More After a Fashion
After a Fashion: The Main Event
After a Fashion: The Main Event
Your Style Avatar would look great sporting these parasols

Stephen MacMillan Moser, June 28, 2013

After a Fashion: The Jewelry Vault
After a Fashion: The Jewelry Vault
Stephen's got a brand new bag, and it has some local landmarks on it

Stephen MacMillan Moser, June 21, 2013

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin style, yard sale, garage sale, big black rolling trunk, salesman's trunk, coffin, Garment District, New York, Made in Heaven, Saks Fifth Avenue, Umlauf Sculpture Garden Party, fashionable party, fashion party

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle