Austin walks the walk on the catwalk
In its third year, Austin Fashion Week draws attention to city's burgeoning industry
The fashion world is a fickle place, and model and TV host Heidi Klum has a line she utters all the time on "Project Runway": "In fashion, one day you're in, and the next day you're out."
So what does this mean for the third annual Austin Fashion Week?
Austinites, the city's fashion and beauty bold names and visitors will find out if this week of pageantry and parties delivers the type of goods that make Fashion Week stand out among the various weeklong fashion fests that have sprung up in Texas and the rest of the country. This year's Fashion Week will have its finale Aug. 27 with the Austin Fashion Awards, which will include fashion shows by Los Angeles labels Wren and Rory Beca.
Organizers, including Fashion Week co-founder Matt Swinney, are betting this time around that Austin Fashion Week (www.fashionweekaustin.com) will offer Texas swagger and a solid opportunity to promote and empower Austin's growing fashion scene.
Fashion Week, which officially starts Saturday with a kickoff party (some linked events happen earlier), was started in 2009 to help boutiques draw shoppers during the slow summer months. Now Swinney says he wants to use Fashion Week as a tool to get store buyers, out-of-town visitors, national media and others to A-Town, which regularly gets touted as a hotbed of activity and commerce. So expect dozens of sartorial events at boutiques, salons and venues as well as gaggles of leggy models, frocks galore and fashion bloggers and photographers from Austin and elsewhere.
Unlike some other fashion efforts and shows, don't expect too much drama, said Swinney last week.
"I'm very proud of this year," said Swinney, co-owner of production and events business Launch787. "Gosh, just two years ago, we just produced one event — the fashion awards. In the future, we'll be able to show even more collections from designers who come here. We've come a long way, haven't we?"
For the first Austin Fashion Week event in 2009, the opening event was an Alamo Ritz screening of "Brüno," the film starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a fictional gay fashion journalist, attended by a couple dozen Fashion Week attendees.
On Saturday, Fashion Week's opening party will have three runway fashion shows with an expected crowd ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 people, Swinney said.
This year's event has a big financial boost from national sponsors such as Lincoln, Loft, Harley-Davidson, VitaminWater and others, and Swinney said those national ties are helping to increase the Austin Fashion Week brand. (The American-Statesman is one of the event's sponsors.)
"Big brands wanting to put money here is a good thing," said Swinney, once a newcomer to the city's fashion scene. (For the record, he said he's planning a wardrobe of Michael Kors, John Varvatos, Paul Smith, Ben Sherman and others for each day of Fashion Week.)
There will be other Austin Fashion Week firsts. This includes official nighttime runway shows next week produced by Caplan Miller Events at the Driskill Hotel featuring garments by Austin and Texas labels including Milli Starr, Ana Reign and Boudoir Queen as well as national and international names such as men's underwear line James Tudor from London, women's wear label Estela Balan from Mexico and menswear maker League of Rebels, which has ties to Russia and Dallas. (A VIP package or a Fashion Week badge is required to attend these shows.)
This time, there are official and unofficial pre-Austin Fashion Week events. Already sold out is Friday's Candyland chic party with hot-pink carpet, pink cupcakes, a candy bar, cocktails, a DJ set and a performance by local band Lady and the Amp as well as a fashion show of Betsey Johnson frocks at Blo Blow Dry Bar (1611 W. Fifth St. 512-355-1256, www.blomedry.com ).
Also, a 1970s-themed party, an unofficial Fashion Week party, will get under way at 7 p.m. Friday with models, cocktails, nibbles and a photo booth at Cypress Vanguard Fashion House (606 E. Third St. 922-6843), whose various designers are involved in Fashion Week events. Representatives from Thigh High Jeans of Memphis, Tenn., will be at the Studio 54-themed party. Tickets also can be purchased online at studiocv.eventbrite.com. (If you attend the official pre-party at Blo, bring proof of entrance to get half off the $10 ticket price at Cypress Vanguard.)
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Fashion Week officially begins with Style, Speed and Glory: Austin Fashion Week Kickoff Party at Cowboy Harley-Davidson (10917 S. Interstate 35, 448-4294, www.cowboyharleyaustin.com ). Guests will see Wilhelmina Brown models and others on the catwalk in hair and makeup touches by Roar Salon.
Also, there will be showings from 19 Austin Fashion Week mashup teams composed of designers, hairstylists, stylists, models, makeup artists and photographers. Some of the mashup contributors are My GiGi children's collection, which will have a showing Monday at the Driskill, hairstylist Martha Lynn Kale, model Dalia Drake, makeup artist Kandy Glass, hair stylist Kendall Koehler and photographer Gregg Cestaro.
Betsey Johnson and Harley-Davidson will have fashion showings during the opening event, and there will be music by LC Rocks, plus food and drink.
More than 70 daytime and evening Fashion Week activities, all open to the public and mostly free, will take place at the Domain in North Austin, Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave and in downtown, East, Central and South Austin. This year, there are 51 showcase pairings of designers with Austin retailers and salons.
The fashion action will end with the Austin Fashion Awards. Radio personality Kim Iversen is the host for the awards show, which has moved from the Long Center for the Performing Arts to ACL Live on West Second Street. Golden Boot Awards in people's choice and industry choice categories will be presented. A new photography award named for celebrity photographer Timothy White will be given out, and pop violinist Josh Vietti will perform.
On the runway there will be showings from Austin veteran designers Gail Chovan and Linda Asaf as well as Austin newcomer Michelle Weisman of the 81 Poppies women's line. Labels Wren and Rory Beca each will show full collections during the awards show.
Beca, 29, will offer a look at her holiday collection, which has deep blues and flashes of pink and a shift dress she says she loves. The collection has only been shown to buyers and will get a full stage presence during the awards.
Beca's resort collection, described as playful and sexy with splashes of color, will debut during the show. The women's garments were inspired by Holi, a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India.
In a phone interview from Los Angeles, Beca said she's taking a break from working on her spring 2012 collection to make her first visit to Austin. In her spare time, she said, she has been researching restaurants and sights to see in Central Texas.
She agreed to show her pieces at the awards show after Austin Fashion Week organizers reached out to her. The native Californian said she saw it as an opportunity — one different from Los Angeles Fashion Week that would benefit her business.
"L.A. is a little different," she said. "I feel like it's about getting all of the celebrities in the front row."
So she jumped at the chance to show her collections in Austin, meet new designers and other people in the industry and build brand awareness. Beca's selections are sold locally at Estilo, C. Jane and Saks Fifth Avenue and as well as nationally at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks.
"We work so hard on these collections," Beca said. "You see these women wearing the clothes (on the runway) and you want people to say, ‘I want to wear that. I want to look like that.' It's such a great way to get the name out there, and people see the brand and hopefully love the brand."
Austin Fashion Week event picks
8 p.m. Friday: One of the most eye-catching events is already sold out: the official pre-Austin Fashion Week party at Blo Blow Dry Bar (1611 W. Fifth St. 512-355-1256, www.blomedry.com ) goes Candyland chic with hairdos from the Blo team and a fashion show of colorful, over-the-top frocks from Betsey Johnson's store at the Domain as well as a hot-pink carpet, pink cupcakes, a candy bar, cocktails, a DJ set and a performance by local band Lady and the Amp.
7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday: Style, Speed and Glory: Austin Fashion Week Kickoff Party presented by Lincoln at Cowboy Harley-Davidson (10917 S. I-35, 448-4294, www.cowboyharleyaustin.com ). Models hit the runway with hair and makeup touches by Roar Salon. Austin Fashion Week mashup teams of designers, hairstylists, makeup artists and photographers will display more looks. Also, there will be showings from Betsey Johnson and Harley-Davidson as well as music by LC Rocks and food and drinks. Tickets: $75
7 to 9 p.m. Monday: Maison d'Etoile (2109 E. Cesar Chavez St.) will offer decadent vintage-inspired lingerie by Megan Summerville. There will be a live performance by Mistress Stephanie. Madame Reverie also will introduce a new line of couture fascinators. There will be specialty cocktails and photobooth by Fun Loving Photos. The event is free.
8 p.m. Monday: Waterstone Aesthetics (waterstonesalonandspa.com ) will present Mode Kei, a Japan-inspired hair and makeup event at Enzo (801 W. Fifth St.). Benefiting the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Doors open at 8 p.m. and show begins at 9 p.m. Tickets: $5
7:30 p.m. Monday: Go 1930s and '40s vintage for jewelry label Dean Fredrick's (www.deanfredrick.com ) sequel to The Heist, its last Austin Fashion Week party. The Heist II is set for ND Venue at 501 Studios (501 N. Interstate 35). Austin hat designer Lana Chu of Lana Chu Collection (lanachu.com ) will have a showing, and there will be food by Mulberry and Frank. Also there will be diamond giveaway plus other prizes as well as live entertainment. A $5 donation will go to Dress For Success.
6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday: Doo-Wop Fashion Bash from Tess Dress and Touch of Sass (500 N. Lamar Blvd. 478-7277 www.touchofsass.net ). Snacks of burgers and fries from Terra Burger, Tootie Pies and cocktails. First 100 guests will get swag bags stuffed with goodies.
6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday: Lovely Austin Boutique (1506 S. First St. 291-7132, www.lovelyaustin.com) shows selections from Austin plus-size designer, Savannahred (www.savannahredislove.com ), and its Spring 2012 collection of travel-inspired pieces for women size 12 and larger. There will be cocktails and snacks. Also, there will be accessories by Milli Starr and Simmang Design jewelry, hair by Kendall Koehler for Mayhem Beauty and makeup by Kandy Glass. Free and open to the public.
7 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 25: See Richard Press' documentary of photographer Bill Cunningham, an 80-plus-year-old Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist, who has captured fashion trends for decades for The New York Times. The event at the Austin Museum of Art (823 Congress Ave. 495.9224, www.amoa.org ) is co-presented by AIGA Austin and Austin Fashion Week. There's limited seating, and doors open at 6 p.m. For tickets, visit www.amoa.org. Tickets: Free with museum admission, free to members and AIGA members two-for-one admission.
6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 26: See fall fashion trends at Neiman Marcus (3400 Palm Way Drive 719-1200, www.neimanmarcus.com ). Fall trends with a fashion presentation at 6:30 p.m. Guests will get bites from Fleming's Steakhouse and treats from Dagar's Catering. Reserve a seat by calling 719-1213 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and specify Austin Fashion Week and the number in your party.
Austin Fashion Week
Where: Various Austin and Bee Cave boutiques, salons and locations
When: Saturday-Aug. 27 (some events are earlier)
Tickets: All tickets can be purchased online at www.fashionweekaustin.com .
VIP Package: $400 for one ticket and $750 for two tickets
Austin Fashion Week badge: $200
Austin Fashion Week opening event at Cowboy Harley-Davidson (Saturday): $75 for nonbadge holders
Austin Fashion Week Runways at the Driskill (Monday-Aug. 26): VIP or badge holders
Showcase events (today-Aug. 26): Most are free and open to the public
Third Annual Austin Fashion Awards
When:7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 27
Where: ACL Live at the Moody Theater (310 W. Second St.)
Information: Golden Boot Award winners for people's choice and industry choice categories to be announced. Also, there will be the premiere of collections from Rory Beca and Wren, sartorial showings from Austinites Gail Chovan and Linda Asaf and newcomer Michelle Weisman of 81 Poppies and a performance from pop violinist Josh Vietti. Radio personality Kim Iversen is the host.
Starting today, we'll give away tickets to Austin Fashion Week's opening party, nighttime fashion shows at the Driskill Hotel and the Austin Fashion Awards. Follow @Austin360 on Twitter for details.
Nightly Driskill style showcases
All official fashion shows at the Driskill Hotel (604 Brazos St.) require a badge or VIP ticket for entry.
Apparel & Accessories Showcase
When: 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Monday
Information: Showings by De Petra Art and Jewelry (Houston), Jun E Caniel (Fayetteville, N.C.), Janie G. Couture (Panama City Beach, Fla.), LNE (Houston), LSD Hats (Edmond, Okla.), Milli Starr (Austin), My GiGi (Austin), Petrecia and Monique (San Antonio), Rene Geneva Design (Austin), Roy Hayes Studio (Grand Rapids, Mich.), SuKaz (Houston) and VASTRA by Namrita Chettiar (San Francisco).
When: 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday
Information: Showings by Ana Reign (Austin), Andrea Montgomery (San Francisco), Dean Fredrick (Austin), Eye on the Sparrow Designs (Dallas), F is for Frank (Dallas), Femailler (Austin), Heather Henry Jewelry Designs (Lubbock), Leighelena (Austin), Leonatti (Laredo), Manic Trout (Millbrook, N.Y.), Mark Kalen (Austin), Meghan Patrice Riley (New York, N.Y.), Sikara and Co. (Austin), Third Culture Jewelry (San Francisco) and Tracy Tenpenny Design (Austin).
Swimwear & Resort Wear Presentations
When: 8 to 11:30 p.m. Wednesday
Information: Showings by La Perla (Italy), James Tudor (London), Tikini Hut (Houston) and Everything But Water (Florida).
Edgy & Eclectic Presentations
When: 8 to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 25
Information: Showings by Boudoir Queen (Austin), League of Rebels (Russia, Dallas) and Jamie McCarty (Brooklyn, N.Y.).
Classic Couture Presentations
When: 8 to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 26
Information: Showings by Celestino Couture (New York, N.Y.), Estela Balan (Mexico) and Colunga (London).