Planning for New York Fashion Week is a long process, with requesting the right backstage credentials for the stories I want to share with you weeks before I even attend the first show – not to mention making sure all my photography equipment is in working order! And then there is the whole “what to wear” dilemma and packing a suitcase to meet the 50-pound limit. It also means I will enjoy a week with friends, get to eat some amazing Italian food and get a glimpse of the Spring 2014 collections.
I am always digging for that Austin fashion story angle while at Fashion Week, and believe me, it was slim pickings years ago to find it, but not anymore. Now it’s getting harder to juggle all of the events fashionable Austinites are involved in, from designers showing their collections to working backstage…The list of Texans in the Tents gets longer every year.
This season, I came across a rather interesting press release that literally gave me “reporter chills.” I uncovered an Austin designer whom I had never met, who was showing at New York Fashion Week and who had a rather popular celebrity walking in her show. After obtaining the credentials to attend the show, I was so excited that I didn’t want to jinx it and blab about it on social media because something could go wrong.
When I arrived backstage at the Sherri Hill show at the Trump Tower (right before we made a Donald Trump sighting on the escalator), I was met by the gracious Oklahoma-native desig
ner. When I asked her why she moved her fashion business to Austin, Sherri shared, “I love Austin! My son, Dusty, went to school there at the University of Texas, and I had another son in Texas and said ‘If you decide to move to Austin, I’m in.'” The family continues to run the business with one not-yet-in-Texas daughter,
who will hopefully become an Austinite soon. Sherri is inspired by living on the lake and enjoys her quiet time there, finding Austin to be a very inspirational city. Their family also operates a showroom in Atlanta as well. (See the Show)
Backstage, Sherri’s models were all getting ready and were in full make-up and hair mode, with familiar Sadie Robertson, daughter of Willie and Korie Robertson of the popular Duck Dynasty show, walking around with a full head of rollers. Once Sadie’s hair was combed out, she was ready to take interviews in her Sherri Hill-model robe. The 16-year old twin sister of brother John Luke and one of the five Roberson children was excited about modeling in her first runway show to unveil her new prom collection, entitled Live Orig
inal. The Hill/Robertson collaboration started after the Duck Dynasty episode aired showing the trials and tribulations Sadie had with her father when finding an appropriate, “daddy-approved” prom gown.
“My dad has always called me “The Original,” and so that’s how we came up with the Live Original inspiration and name for the collection,” Sadie commented. “I’m excited to share with other girls my fashion taste to help girls feel pretty and appropriately-dressed on their special prom night.”
So how does a girl from the swamps of Louisiana prepare for her first runway show? ” I don’t even know! I’ve just been walking in the hotel room, just struttin’ my stuff!” she replied in her cute southern drawl. Sadie’s Southern roots also have an Austin connection: She added she loves Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant. (What’s not to like about it?).
As far as the dresses being Willie-approved…”The hems are a little bit longer for Sadie; we cut the dresses a little bit longer, gave them a little bit more coverage. Some are strapless, but there’s not serious cleavage happening,” said designer Hill.
Prom gowns are not the only style of dresses Sherri designs. She has a huge pageant dress-following, and while she is not quite sure how the following became so strong, she is thrilled to see her designs on the girls competing in the Miss USA and Miss America systems. “I love to see the gowns on stage, and of course, we feel really good when our girl wins!” Sherri said. At the New York fashion show, Miss USA, Miss Bolivia, Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf and Miss Universe were all models in the show.
But designing popular gowns has its challenges. Copycat Sherri Hill gowns were showing up on bogus websites, and after filing a lawsuit against a counterfeiter, the company was awarded five million dollars and now hires two full-time Internet employees to police sites to make sure girls are getting the “real” Sherri Hill gowns.
Back on the red carpet at the New York fashion show, the Robertson clan stood for photographers, with all the recognizable beards in attendance. Willie, Jase, Jep, Si and other brother Alan were casually dressed and stood next to their ever-so-fashionably dressed wives, who were dressed up like New York natives for a fashion event. Korie was beautifully dressed in a classic long black column dress by Laundry with Fendi shoes, and Jessica was wearing a dress designed by Korie and Willie’s oldest daughter, Rebecca. (I loved the geometric shape, and it flattered Jessica beautifully.)
When I asked Uncle Si who was he wearing, he replied with “What am I wearing?”
“No,” I said, “Who are you wearing?”
“Camoflouge is all I know. Comfort, it’s all about comfort. That’s my style.” Si also was probably more interested in being outside – he told me they should open up squirrel season in Central Park.
Out of all the Robertson clan, Willie is probably the most fashionable and had to go to plan B on his wardrobe for the evening. “I didn’t wear the shirt that Korie wanted me to wear because it didn’t fit properly, so this is the emergency plaid I go to,” Willie said. He also told me there is no fashion hope for Uncle Si, and he basically has three outfits to wear, one of which we saw that night. Si did accessorize his camo outfit with his green Tupperware cup on the front row of the fashion show. Hilarious!
Willie and Korie were as proud and excited as you would expect parents to be for their successful daughter. “We’re so excited about the impact she is making on teenage girls’ it’s pretty incredible,” said Mom Korie.
Faith is the center of the Robertson family and is a strong component of the show, with a dinner prayer being said at the end of every episode. “Our faith is important to us, and it’s just a small prayer, but it’s important to us,” Willie said. Sadie and her friend Kolby even host a bible verse segment every Monday called The New Different, inspiring and teaching young people about bible passages.
The fashion show featured opulent gowns encrusted in Swavorksi crystals and skirts with endless amounts of colorful chiffon. Sadie wore a short blush-colored tulle and lace strapless (daddy-approved) dress for her first look, and the second was an adorable cream and black polka dot gown with a black sequined bodice. The entire family beamed with excitement and support for their Sadie. Camera phones were snapping, and smiles measured ear to ear. From the swamps of Louisiana, Sadie strutted her stuff on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week as if she had done it a million times before.
Before we knew it the show was over, and it was a wrap. Our team captured some great pictures, videos and interviews, and it ended an exciting day at Fashion Week. Being a big Duck Dynasty fan myself, covering this fashion show was the highlight of my Fashion Week…When will I ever have an opportunity to report on a show complete with crystals and camouflage!
Sherri Hill Designs are sold exclusively in Austin at Bella Nova
located at Parmer Lane and McNeil Drive (in the old Blockbuster space by HEB)