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Austin Fashion Week to strut local, international garments during return to the runway

Earl Hopkins
Austin 360
After two years, Austin Fashion Week returns to The Domain for an in-person experience from Dec. 3-5.

It's been two years since the illustrious stylings of Central Texas have shined under the lights of the runway stage at Austin Fashion Week.

In that time, the fashion industry was brought to its knees as clothing stores and boutiques closed, manufacturing slowed and retail giants were driven to bankruptcy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now, as the industry moves toward a path of recovery, Austinites will witness the city's chic designs and lavish garments on display at this year's Austin Fashion Week.

With last year's fashion week confined to virtual showcases, the weekend-long event will return to The Domain from Friday through Sunday. 

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"I'm super excited about this group of designers," founder Matt Swinney said. "Just like us, they had to get through this to survive and I'm super excited to get out there and have them shine like we like to do."

Featuring six outdoor runway shows and nearly 50 fashion designers and pop-up shops, the program will consist of the same attractions, albeit a few changes, Swinney, 46, said. 

Along with reduced audience sizes to provide a more "intimate viewing experience," Swinney said several designers from Cairo will have a presence as part of the ATX+EGYPT program. 

Funded by the United States Embassy in Cairo, ATX+EGYPT is a year-long business development program that aims to support the global expansion of Austin-based fashion companies and increase the exposure of emerging designers from the Northeast African country.

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Jewelry designer Cassandra King Polidori, who's had a hand in the program for the past year, said the addition of Egyptian designers will make for a more well-rounded showcase and incorporate pieces that have yet to be seen in the country. 

After two years, Austin Fashion Week returns to The Domain for an in-person experience from Dec. 3-5.

"I think it should be shouted from the rooftop because it's so cool," Polidori, 37, said. "Unless you got to Egypt, these designers are completely new to the western hemisphere and they're showing us first. That's pretty incredible."

Swinney, who has worked on similar expansion projects in Pakistan, Mexico and Australia, said he expects the insertion of Egyptian couture to brighten the eyes of designers and audience members.

"It’s a true honor to get to work with the city of Austin on another international project," he said. "The Egyptian brands are so unique and on-trend, and I really can’t wait to see how the Austin market reacts to them."

Given the challenges that came with planning this year's event, which typically takes six months of preparation, Swinney said it didn't always look like the event would return to in person. 

After two years, Austin Fashion Week returns to The Domain for an in-person experience from Dec. 3-5.

"It took so long to get started," he said. "It seemed good, then the delta variant hit, so we had to wait. Normally, it's six months of planning, but we only had between two to three months.

Swinney said having local designers and sponsors such as Salon Mystique in supporting roles helped piece the elements of the annual showcase together. 

As title sponsor of Austin Fashion Week, Salon Mystique Owners Misty, 50, and Michael Uzuanis, 47, said they are hopeful the greater Austin community will come out to support this year's event as they have in years past. 

"From talking to (Swinney) and seeing the buzz, my gut is telling me a lot of people are going to come out," Michael said. "I think people are sick and tired of being told what to do as far as that they can't be here, have to wear this and can't do this. So, I think it's going to be a pretty big turnout."

How to attend Austin Fashion Week events

This year's Austin Fashion Week is Friday through Sunday, with a runway show scheduled for 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. each day. 

Individual tickets are between $50 and $215 and include seated tickets for both shows on a selected day.

All-Access Badges, $135-$600, include seated tickets for all six runway shows throughout the weekend, along with invitations to any private events before, during and after fashion week. 

Information: fashionbyevents.com