After a Fashion

From latex to foil, there's style in them tharr condom wrappers

Council Member Mike Martinez and wife Laura Wendler at Zach's wildly successful Red, Hot & Soul benefit
Council Member Mike Martinez and wife Laura Wendler at Zach's wildly successful Red, Hot & Soul benefit (Photo by Seabrook Jones/

Night of a Thousand Days

Having rebounded in a big and ugly way from the skeletal thinness at the height of my illness, I no longer feel chic and soigné. I feel bloated and bulbous. But I have a feeling this won't last. Nonetheless, despite being raggedly fatigued, carrying extra weight doesn't help at all – and even worse is that I can't fit into the super skinny duds I was wearing even four weeks ago. Fortunately, I knocked out all the biggest and best parties before the bloat. Wednesday, April 18, was the Condom Couture show at UT. I was asked to be a judge, even though I loathe cute fashion shows (shows that feature garments made out of trash, for example). But, it was an AIDS fundraiser, produced by a group called Face AIDS (, one chapter of a larger, nationwide AIDS awareness group raising money for AIDS research and support for those living with AIDS. Amusingly, I sat next to another judge whose senior apparel design project I'd judged the week before. "You do lots of this judging stuff?" he asked me. Anyway, this was no ridiculous little show. Amateur, yes. Ridiculous, no. I kept imagining horrid little dresses made out of blown-up white condoms, but that was definitely not what I saw. With all the colors, sizes, and textures that condoms come in, there were some jaw-dropping designs that were so creative, I was embarrassed for having had bad premonitions beforehand. Fantastically colored flamenco dresses; short, color-blocked Sixties shifts; glittering details and accessories made from the foil condom wrappers; layers of colored condoms melted into a sheer latex with circular patterns embedded ... it was a truly stunning show, and I was shocked and surprised. Sign me up for next year, y'all, and keep up the good work!

The big UT fashion show that I wrote about last week followed the next day. Going out two nights in a row was exhausting. I'm simply not the young, sprightly glamazon that I once was. But at least I had a day off before Zach's faaabulous Red, Hot & Soul benefit. Zach turns its events into real theatre. I practically peed in my pants to be asked to sit at James Armstrong and Larry Connelly's table (yes I will claw my way to the top of the A-list again). I was seated by Stephen Rice – in primo seats near the stage, where everyone could see me and I could see everyone. Across from me was the devilishly handsome Greg Boyd, formerly the menswear guru at Saks, now the rep for Coomi jewelry (, which is carried by Neiman Marcus locally. Greg let me wear about $70,000 in Coomi jewels on my neck and wrist – yards of diamond chain set with chunky blue topaz, citrine, peridot, and other dazzling beauties. I was in heaven. If Coomi diamonds make an aged old queen like me feel glamourous and beautiful, imagine what they can do for you. Diamonds aside, Red, Hot & Soul was a preview of Zach's new summer show, Xanadu. With a roller-disco theme to the event, the outfits were outrageous. Considering the musical is set in the high-Seventies, we saw outfits that ranged from Mary Quant go-go girls from 1965 to hippie/boho chic – to ravewear and grunge. Whatever – those that did get the period right were truly fabulous, reminding us once again that not all Seventies clothes are ugly (hello, Halston!). I hear through the grapevine (and believe me, it's a really short vine) that they raised thousands upon thousands more than they projected. The following day was a meaningful and lovely event – though not quite as uproarious as the event the night before. It was the sad occasion of Barney Groten's remembrance, held at Ballet Austin. Barney's son and daughter-in-law are Eric and Maria Groten (dear friends of mine from way back). The memorial was short and sweet, with few speeches and lots of grieving through the happy memories.

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Austin style, ZACH, Red, Hot, and Soul, illness, Barney Groten, Seventies, Neiman Marcus, Coomi Jewelry, Condom Couture, UT fashion

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