After a Fashion: Not Finale
Gratitude. Your Style Avatar has so much gratitude.
Last Saturday night was the Austin Fashion Awards at the Music Hall, an appropriate end to Austin Fashion Week. I was offered the grand finale slot and presented Fashion as Theatre: A Pagan Royal Wedding. Never knowing, because of my health, whether this collection might be my grand finale as well, I was both polarized and paralyzed. The news of my photographer Seabrook Jones' impending death, followed by his actual passing, was a pivotal time for me, not only losing a dear friend but a prime supporter that I had come to depend on. This collection was about love and loss.
The collection began with the generous donation of seed money from my devoted friend Charlotte Herzele. Many people have taken credit for referring me to Jennifer Ayers, and perhaps they did, but it was Erin Boubel who pushed me towards her. When Jennifer allowed me into her home to view her work, I was blown away by the sheer brilliance of her headpieces. She generously offered to loan me every single piece she had available, and I was in heaven picking through them and imagining the clothes that would go with them. My energy and motivation went through the roof, and my head spun with new visions. The race was on.
Though my mind raced, the clothes crawled. I did everything I knew how to do to try and do everything myself, driving home once again for me why I have such a love/hate relationship with designing. It was blessed good fortune that my dear friend, couture seamstress Heather Bache, returned from a three-month trip to India two weeks before the show. She immediately went to work on the clothes without pay, taking the most important ones on for herself with full knowledge that there was virtually no one else in our network that could have produced the kind of quality needed on some of these dresses. Heather is the finest seamstress I know, and her personal love and support for me brought her to me every day and many nights.
Another expert seamstress who came to me through the kindness and grace of April Kling Meyer at Fabricker is Linda Leening. Linda worked with me throughout my Dallas collection. Her willingness to be with me for hours on end and take things home to work on was awe-inspiring. Kim Schlinke also came to me through April (April, thank you!). Kim, a raucous, delightfully uncensored seamstress whose jokes and cynicism made me laugh constantly, dove right in, even though she was also working with Catherine Hite's beautiful fashion-week collection. One of my very favorite models, burlesque queen Eva Strangelove spent multiple nights sewing. Through Eva, Lars Wolfshield came to me. Taking control of the pattern-making for the Czarina's dress was a bear of a job (among so many others that she did for me) and Lars dug in with both hands, despite all the pressures of her other work that kept her up endless nights. Jaclyn Havlak. Well, you know Jacki, and you know what she means to me. Sam Monreal, thank you for knowing much more than I about what needed to occur.
I had no business at all leaving my studio a week before my show to attend the Noir show. But if I had not gone, I would not have reconnected with Cortney Carothers. Cortney first worked with me during my Eleven Eleven show as part of Tori Tinnon's team from Social Communications. When she offered her help again, I snapped it up. She was over the next morning and took total control of the music for the show, the 24 models and fittings that had to occur, and ran interference for me with AFW, the modeling agencies, and anyone else who threatened to derail my dream. Bliss Blumenthal, you are a true saint for coming to help so much. There were multiple others (you know who you are) who lent their time, talent, knowledge, or resources. Thank you all. For the models who volunteered to stand with me, thank you. This show was dedicated to Seabrook Jones, Grant Hicks, and my mother, Phyllis Stegall, without whom none of this would have been possible. I am the luckiest, most blessed person on Earth.