After a Fashion: The Dish

Your Style Avatar gets all guidance counselory and might have gotten snubbed...

State Rep. Mark Strama with the divine Ava McDonald and KIPP success story Marisela Bueno
State Rep. Mark Strama with the divine Ava McDonald and KIPP success story Marisela Bueno (Photo courtesy of Carla McDonald)

Recently I received an invitation from Matt Swinney and his wife Cara to attend a gala for the Arc of the Capital Area. It's the first social invite I'd received from Matt, and it did indeed please me, since I've been so critical of Matt's Austin Fashion Week in the past. I brought my muse and constant companion, Jaclyn "Jacki Oh" Havlak (though I like to think of her as Nurse Jacki), and was further pleased to see that among Matt and Kara's guests were Kendra Scott, Rochelle Rae, and Ross Bennett – whose name has appeared in this column numerous times since his turn on NBC's Fashion Star. When we met at the table, Matt and Kara were very gracious, and I exchanged pleasantries with Ross and his beautiful wife Erin ... an encounter that could have been like two porcupines running into each other, but went rather smoothly. Turned out that Matt had several tables at the event, and he escorted us to ours ... in the back. "What is this, Siberia?" I asked. Matt smiled and said, "But you're in the middle!" Hmmm. The middle of the back row, at a table where we knew absolutely no one. I have to say I was a bit disgruntled by what appeared to be a slight and told Jacki I was considering leaving. But before those words came out of my mouth, Matt walked over to our table and said it turned out that Kendra Scott and her guest were not able to attend after all, and that we were welcome to the two extra seats at his table. Before we sat down, but after dinner had been served, there was no sign of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. Since they had already been served, and there were no meals at the empty chairs Jacki and I sat in, Matt handed us the Bennett's plates and we had a delicious dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett never did return to the table, and Matt said something about them being gone for awhile. Gone for the rest of the night was more like it. I fantasized that Mr. and Mrs. Bennett had left in a huff, refusing to sit at the same table with me ... but then again, perhaps Ross had a sewing emergency he had to go take care of. That aside, the event was lovely. The Arc of the Capital Area's Building Bridges not only underscored the need for accessibility and recreation for those who are disabled in various ways, but seemed an unintended theme for the evening. Sort of.


Carla McDonald invited us to celebrate the 10th anniversary of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) charter school and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new south campus. Board chairman Gretchen Miller emceed the event and staggered us with some statistics – 93% of KIPP students go on to a four-year college. Amazing work on KIPP's part. The guest list sparkled with names including former Mayor Will Wynn, Julia Null Smith, Rep. Mark Strama and Crystal Cotti, Mary and Rusty Tally, Sara Fox, Christy Pipkin, and Carla McDonald's absolutely adorable fifth grader, Ava. Ever since I laid eyes on Ava a hundred years ago, I was smitten by her beauty, and was excited to see how the progeny of two dynamic characters would turn out. I was enchanted when I discovered that her two favorite things were writing and fashion. With such a fashionable mother, Ava comes by her own style naturally. She's effervescent and smart as a whip, and, when I invited her down to spend some time with me at my sewing studio, she was hopping up and down with excitement, especially after I invited her to my November fashion show to see her mother walk the catwalk. I love helping guide young fashionistas into the niche they want to be in. Sort of like what KIPP does.

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Austin style, Ava, Cara MacDonald, Matt Swiney, ARC of the Capital Area, fashionista, 5th grader, Ross Bennett

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