The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion: A Stitch In Time

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 5, 2013, Columns

It's been a long time since I caught up with Kathie Lebeck Sever. For the decade that I've known her, she has been creating beautiful, limited edition, hand-embroidered Western shirts under the name Ramonster, a loving nod to her daughter. I'd written about her a few times fairly early on, knowing that her kind of craftsmanship was not only part and parcel of Texas folk art, but that her kind of attention to detail seemed rare. It's even rarer now, I assure you. With the addition of a vintage chain-stitch machine (which allows her to do work along the lines of the masters, Nudie and Manuel), Sever has rebranded her company as Fort Lone­some (, but go to her Fort Lonesome Facebook page to see the juicy details), and is producing some of the most breathtakingly original work that I have seen in a very long time. Fort Lonesome was born out of re-examination and renewal, always a tough process that is usually rewarding, at least personally. With Kathie's new vision, new team, new studio, new techniques, and new (old) equipment, it is clear that her personal journey has positioned her to design and market her creations in a way she's never been able to do before. Beginning with some basics, Fort Lonesome now produces a signature T-shirt (100% organic cotton from American Apparel), printed and chain-stitched. Also offered is the handy embroidered neckerchief, as well as limited edition, letterpressed Fort Lonesome handbills using a hand-carved (by Sever) linoleum block and vintage wood type from the Rob Roy Kelly Ameri­can Wood Type Collection. But on to the collections. First, there's Fort Lonesome Camp, rebuilt "found" clothing that Sever and her team strip down, rebuild with Western styling, embroider, and personalize, thereby creating an entirely new garment with a life of its own ... just like Sever herself. Addition­ally, you may choose an existing garment that is special to you and have Sever personalize it (logo? brand name? tattoo?), using a basic price structure on her website. Then there is the Custom collection in which your wildest Western dreams can come true with every detail clearly determined by you and the designer. Sever's work has been worn by many celebrities and local legends, and she has been married to Matt Sever (Matt the Electric­ian) for almost 15 years. Sign up for Fort Lonesome's newsletter to keep you updated on Kathie's fall offerings.


Not having thoroughly digested my Austin Fashion Awards experience – the successes as well as the disappointments – it was indeed interesting to read that Matt Swinney and Austin Fashion Week are starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature-length documentary film that will chronicle the goings-on behind the scenes at Austin Fashion Week 2014. Despite any reservations I may personally have about AFW, there is no question in my mind that this could be a fabulous, riveting, and revealing piece of footage, creating a lasting document of historical significance for the Austin fashion scene, Texas fashion, and (hopefully, eventually) Austin fashion's impact upon the nation. Unfortunately, the title of this documentary is Austin-Tatious: A Peek Backstage at Austin Fashion Week. Omigod, please don't use that hackneyed "Austin-tatious." So tired (besides, I always like my friend Levi Palmer's word, "Austin-tageous"). Nonetheless, on the Kickstarter page, Swinney, looking for $88,000, offers incentives ranging from a thank you letter, to a T-shirt, to items from the Ross Bennett Collection, and, well, even more items from the Ross Bennett Collection. I truly believe that this period should be documented and wish Swinney success.

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