After a Fashion

Last night a hairstylist saved my life... no, really

Stylists Charlotte Belle and Johanna Esper of Maison d'Etoile from their 2011 Best of Austin Critics Pick win for Most Stylish, Unpretentious Salon
Stylists Charlotte Belle and Johanna Esper of Maison d'Etoile from their 2011 "Best of Austin" Critics Pick win for "Most Stylish, Unpretentious Salon" (Photo by Todd V. Wolfson)


I have the best hairdresser in the world: Johanna Esper at Salon d'Etoile. Deborah Carter, formerly of SoCo's legendary Pink Salon (now Pink West in Dripping Springs) passed me on to the then-fledgling stylist when she finished training at Pink. She seemed sweet but a bit mousey at first, but if Deborah turned me over to her, I knew Johanna would be good. In no time at all, I realized what a strong and powerful soul she was, as well as being an excellent colorist and cutter. She is responsible for creating the formula that gives me such white blond hair, and I can't imagine wanting any other color ... or hairdresser. Last Friday, I went in to be styled for Austin Fashion Week and was feeling weak. Johanna commented on how thin I was (which I usually adore, but my weight loss now feels beyond my control) and was so tender with me, as she always is, and after she applied my color, I got up to wait outside while my hair was processing, and promptly collapsed. Within a blink of an eye, she was behind me with a chair, glass of water, and an arm to help me up. Embarrassed but grateful, I pulled myself together and went to wait outside and have some fresh air. Overwhelmingly exhausted, I nodded off while my hair was being cut. I came to consciousness staring at the wood floor, unaware of where I was. As my eyes traveled and adjusted, I looked and saw Johanna in the mirror behind me with her arms wrapped around my shoulders, just holding me. Lost, I asked what happened, and Johanna said I'd had some sort of convulsion or seizure, that I'd woken up and my eyes had rolled back in my head, and I was shaking uncontrollably and passed out again. I realized how grateful I was for Johanna's love, care, and very cool head. She's so much more than a hairdresser to me. She is a trusted friend, confidant, and advisor. She also knows more about high fashion than most designers, and in the three hours I usually spend in her chair, we cover everything from salacious celebrity gossip to world politics. One of the wisest, smartest women I know, I not only trust Johanna Esper with my hair, I'd trust her with my life.

So Noir

Though wading through piles of fabric, feathers, furs, and hides, and neck-deep in half-finished garments, I had to attend the Noir fashion show benefiting the Arc of the Capital Area. It was, after all, the official opening of Austin Fashion Week. The tasteful, quiet event was refreshing compared to last year's overly commercialized launch. The models wore creations in white, and the audience was dressed in all black. Appropriately reflecting AFW's move towards promoting more local designwork, Noir represented some of Austin's best designers and showed off gorgeous dresses.

Flower Power

My new friend Roy Mendoza Jr. escorted me to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Gala and Silent Art Auction last week, pretty much an annual tradition for me. The guests included Larry Connelly, James Armstrong, Becky Beaver, and Nancy Scanlan. Veteran Wildflower Center staffer Joe Hammer sat with us at dinner and told stories about the center, like the one about the upstairs room named for Helen Hayes, aka the First Lady of the American Theatre, who helped Lady Bird Johnson launch the beloved center. The staff is a charming, knowledgeable crew who always make this event (and any visit there, for that matter) so special for so many. Wildflower Center, you are a true jewel in Austin's crown of accomplishments. Thanks from all of us.

Dear Seabrook

My dear friend and column photographer Seabrook Jones will be memorialized at Lanai on Tuesday, May 14, 6pm, with an open mic for friends to share remembrances and stories about Seabrook, who passed away two weeks ago.

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Austin style, Salon d'Etoile, Pink, Austin Fashion Week, Noir, ARC, Roy Mendoza, Lady Bird Johnson, Wildflower Center, Seabrook Jones

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