Austin Fashion Week Kickoff Party 2013 – NOIR & ENCORE

It’s hard to believe that this is the fifth annual Austin Fashion Week. The time has certainly flown by, and oh, how the event has changed. Matt Swinney, founder of Austin Fashion Week, has taken the event from a retail-focused event in 2009 to more of a traditional runway/fashion show format. While the runway shows have been held at the Driskill Hotel for two years, they will now be at the new venue, La Zona Rosa. Jury is still out how the new venue will be received, but I’m sure it will be met with open arms. Austin keeps it fashionably weird so I’m sure it will work.
The biggest change to the line up of events was the kick-off party. Past years included a big blowout party and a fun fashion show, which started off the week of events. Swinney said, “We starting a little different this year; we are all dressed in black for a European-style seated dinner with Shawn Cirkiel and Steven Cak from Parkside Projects. (Parkside and Olive + June). We’re going to see an all white fashion show with all the pieces donated the ARC of the Capital Area so you can actually buy, and all the money goes to charity.”
GREG6853-XLIt was a beautiful site to see at Brazos Hall downtown, which was simply decorated with candles and crisp white table cloths. Attendees were asked to wear black (not hard for any of the photographers who were there…it’s the color of choice!), and the fashion show was everywhere with folks in black glittered outfits, sequins and the spring lace trend. The shoe show was amazing as well, with some girls deciding to add a pop of color.
The night could not been have been more historic. Austin designer Gail Chovan, owner of Blackmail, has stayed true to her brand, designing every collection in black, and we joked that it was actually “her” party. The one thing that made tonight so special was that for the first time, she designed a garment in white. It was just worth it for me to see this since I have followed her career for more than 13 years. It started the show and was as beautiful in white as it would have been in black. When I asked her how it was designing a white piece, she said “it was awesome, and I learned that I’m a monochromatic gal that doesn’t like prints. The white was very inspirational.”
Gail will be showing more white-inspired gowns at the Austin Fashion Awards on Saturday, May 11, alongside Kendra Scott, Stephen Moser and Boudior Queen.
The after party called ENCORE took on a more artistic angle. Make up teams created a French contemporary-themed look, and you could text your favorites while you were watching. As each model approached the presentation stages, the crowd cheered for their favorites. The winner of the ENCORE competition will be announced at the Austin Fashion Awards.
This, by far, was the best party to launch Austin Fashion Week.  The challenging lighting for the runway show can be overlooked because the open bar, great crowd, fab venue and overall experience of the night was marvelous. Well done, team!

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