I've been critical about Austin Fashion Week in the past, but it has gotten better. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the 2012 kickoff party, Shift Into Style, at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum last Friday. AFW has always courted top sponsors, but the Circuit of the Americas sponsorship tops it all. So prevalent was the sponsorship that it was easy to forget that it was supposed to be about fashion. The Danes, Robert and Rachel from San Antonio, did, however, put on a fashion show that was worthy of a fashion week opening. They threw in surprises in the way of sculpted, architectural dresses and brilliantly colored gowns with complicated bias work (some more successful than others). The Danes also dressed the first lady of Texas, Anita Perry and her good friend Mica (pronounced MEEK-a) Mosbacher, Austin resident and widow of the late Secretary of Commerce, Robert Mosbacher. A big Republican fan, I am not, but, politics aside, both of these ladies were very gracious. Mrs. Perry has a lovely, soft accent and such a sincere manner, that if she told me to jump off a cliff, I might. Mrs. Mosbacher asked to meet me, so we all posed repeatedly for the paparazzi. My date was, of course, Jacki Oh (happy birthday, Jacki!), resplendent in flowing navy blue, and I in white and black. We can always tell which attendees do not frequent events like these; they're the well-meaning ones who say, "You two are the most interesting/glamourous people here. Who are you?" Yeah, okay, we thrive on the attention. I know. Anyway, on with the show. This AFW opening party was a charity event with proceeds benefiting the Seton Cancer Center. As worthy and important as the charity is, it made the launch party seem even more distanced from fashion than ever. A lengthy onstage interview with one of the race car drivers drove Jacki and I (and a few dozen others) to the terrace for cigarettes. The incredibly gorgeous former Miss Texas USA, Holly Mills-Gardner, did her best to steer the conversation back to fashion, but with little effect. Then, Ross Bennett showed his collection that was apparently designed for some of the Formula One girls, though it could have easily been for the Kilgore Rangerettes. Sorry, I really wanted to see something creative and unusual from Ross; this was simply not it. Then, the Downtown men's store Keepers showed a selection. I have snidely remarked in this column that at least "Keepers Menswear can be counted on to provide sophistication." Wrong again. The usually impeccable clothes were so ill-fitting and the male models were so bad that it made Keepers look ridiculous. What's happened to them? At any rate, the AFW launch parties are not necessarily indicative of what will be shown during fashion week. Next week we'll bring you the news from the Austin Fashion Awards. (If you see me presenting, wave.)
I'm so inundated with fashion right now, that I hardly think about anything else. Even when I'm too fatigued to work, my mind is constantly on this collection I'm designing for Bad JohnPaul's show Cattivo. I don't know exactly how many designers are showing. It seems like 12 or 15 of them, but most will be pedestal modeling or showing collections of three pieces. Not me, of course. Instead of making a few shirts as a preview of my Fall collection, I dove into all the glorious fabrics White Star Manufacturing has provided for me, doing men's and women's pants, dresses, coats, and vests. It's lovely to have all of those luxury fabrics, and designing again has brought some peace to my life. Am I making money on this? Hell, no. But could I do worse than spending my waking hours designing and thinking about sewing? Absolutely. It's not like I have anything else on my agenda, do I? Cattivo is Friday, Aug. 17, 10:30pm (doors at 8pm), at Haven, and also stars Benson Roberts, Esther Bowen, Jon Jon Shakarisaz, and many others. Be there or be Cher.
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