Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Exploring Day of the Dead makeup with Coco Coquette

Staff Writer
Austin 360

This year as we at 360 central began searching for Halloween inspiration we found ourselves drawn to the Latin American holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. To help us explore the “sugar skull” makeup that is characteristic of Dia de los Muertos costumes, we turned to local makeup artist Allyson Garro. While Garro has never attended Austin’s Viva La Vida celebration, hosted annually by Mexic-Arte museum she is a veteran of Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s yearly Día de los Muertos event in Los Angeles.

Garro landed in Austin two and a half years ago, abandoning L.A. where she worked as a freelance costume designer and wardrobe stylist. A California native, she attributes her fanciful style aesthetic to a five-year stint in New Orleans where, among other things, she worked in a friend’s wig shop.

“Doing costume design in Los Angeles is way less creative than you think it would be,” explains Garro. “I was like, I miss glitter. I miss crazy outfits and this uber-expression of your ultimate self.”

Working under the name Coco Coquette, Garro began to make a splash on the local style scene last October, launching a series of fantastic theme parties. She describes her events as modified runway shows. Instead of models, styles are presented by dancers, and instead of “strutting down the runway” each dancer performs for an entire song. Every show is constructed around a central theme that works as a unifying thread for the event. Her debut event revolved around dangerous or notorious women. Her spring show was titled “Cherchez la Femme” and explored different phases of love and relationships. On Tuesday, October 25 Coco Coquette presents a third soiree celebrating “Beautiful Monsters.”

About a year ago, opportunity to expand her business presented itself. Joining with owners of Salon d’Etoile and Charm School Vintage, Garro moved into an unassuming, creaky house on Cesar Chavez that previously housed the gallery Art Palace. Garro, who specializes in wigs and makeup, works out of a cozy corner in the back of the house, surrounded by rows upon rows of disembodied Styrofoam heads sporting colorful coiffures that beckon with possibility.

The new residents maintain the Bohemian spirit of the gallery’s past.

“We’re on the East Tour,” says Garro. “Every two months we change our art in the salon and have an art party. We did SXSW shows this year that were amazing.”

For the past six months, Coco Coquette has been Garro’s full time job, and she couldn’t be happier.

“This is a cooperative business where the four of us are here to support each other,” she says, smiling coyly, “and we make magic.”

Coco Coquette is located at Located 2109 East Cesar Chavez in Austin. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tues.-Sat. and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. In addition to shop hours, Coco Coquette offers a variety of “wig party? packages. More info: coco-coquette.com