Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Bell Jar...

After a Fashion: A Deeper Code Your Style Avatar trains the spotlight on the latest collection by Gail Chovan BY STEPHEN MACMILLAN MOSER, FRI., NOV. 23, 2012 Two days after my own show, I was still so drained and weak that the idea of going anywhere except the hospital was out of the question. But then again, it was Gail Chovan's show, and, in almost 14 years, I've never missed a single one. Gail is the real fashion star in Austin, leaving other designers in the dust with her designs and concepts. Never one to follow any trend, she works within a bell jar, creating her monochromatic fantasy world and making clothes for women who have a mind of their own. Two days before her own show, my longtime friend showed a preview of this new collection at my Eleven Eleven show at the Driskill for Hospice Austin. I'd desperately wanted her counterpoint to balance my show and frankly, did not care what she showed, as long as she did show. She did, and it was perfect. For her to take the time to do my show, when her own was so precariously close, was a supreme compliment to me and clear evidence of devotion. So, miss her show because I was weak and ill? Forget it. Not gonna happen. I compiled an ensemble that looked like it may have come out of Grace Jones' closet, all in black leather and gray. Escorted by my devoted co-producer, art director, best friend, and muse, Jacki Oh (in all black, of course), we walked into Justine's for the show, which was called "de quoi avez-vous peur? [what are you afraid of?]." Directed to an extremely long, medieval-type table adorned in ivy and black candles, I sat with Jacki, Micky Hoogendijk (aka ANTG – America's Next Top Goddess), and Ross Bennett. We were given soup and bread (no spoons) and drank from our bowls as the models scaled a small set of steps and paced themselves, bare feet streaked with black paint, down the middle of the table. Ghostlike and wearing black leather with hand-knotted fringe, sometimes combined with various sheer blacks and gray lace, the collection did indeed make the viewer ponder the question, "What are you afraid of?," among many others. That is Gail's very stock-in-trade: Keep 'em guessing. Make them think outside of the box, and, as a matter of fact, crush the box to pieces and then burn it. What rises from those ashes are Gail's collections, free of constraint, flouting convention, and taking us to places we've never dreamed of. Quotes Gail on her website,, "It's about atemporality. About opting out of the industrialization of novelty. It's about deeper code" (William Gibson, Zero History). As a designer, Gail has a deeper code than any other designer I've met. It nourishes her, it propels her, it makes her crazy sometimes, but the finished effect is always breathtaking in its concept. Congratulations on Collection 15, Gail. To paraphrase what I said at the Austin Fashion Awards when you received your award: In my personal pantheon of fashion icons, you are Goddess No. 1.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Collection in full production...Does anyone care about this fabric and weight besides me?

Silk jersey as black and as slinky as Coco Chanel. Amazing couture silk in shaded browns (yes, I said brown) with felt and beaded paillettes - direct from Paris this summer. Only 3 metres to use sparingly. Combined with the black silk jersey and backed in silk chiffon, it hangs like a dream on the bias. Only 3 looks as that is all the fabric that I have. One of a kind. Black leather with Latigo lace hand-cut fringe, backed and lined with Cabana linen. Black of course. This will be my most reproducible capsule collection and the one that I will wear often. 5 looks. Hand-dyed 1930's Clarksville cotton/shredded drapery lace - we haven't gotten the color just right yet, Aaron and I are playing with different dyes to obtain just the grey/gray that speaks to us... with blue grey/gray underpinnings of cotton jersey...again the weight hangs it well and with the insane, unbalance of the lace overlay, it should sail down the runway...4 looks. Crazy ribbed rayon stretch long and ruched black fabric that will envelope the torso combined with heavy black knit, boned to create architectural proportions that take a brave one to wear...4 looks. 8 models - they all speak to me on different levels of creativity. So, what are you afraid of? De quoi avez-vous peur?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

De quoi avez-vous peur?

Preparing for my Fall/Winter/Now Collection: De quoi avez-vous peur?....So, what are you afraid of?
Tuesday, 13th November chez Justine's...more to follow...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inflatable balloons...aren't they all?

Last week, I took the students to Les Docks: Cite de la Mode...a new building along the Seine where there were 2 side-by-side exhibits of Balenciaga and Comme des Garcons...we talked of compare and contrast.
The 2 exhibits were shotgun like spaces. Balenciaga's focused on many vintage pieces: Victorian, Edwardian, ethnic and such that informed his design process. Much of it was black, displayed flat in glass top drawers. His couture pieces - displayed on mannequins - spoke to a timelessness of design. It was amazing to his direction - as he designed almost simultaneously in the era of Chanel - and how their approaches were so different. The students were amazed at his approach. Then on to the white room of Rei Kawakubo - large clear balloons, run by generators that kept them inflated, housed her collection "White Drama." The photos tend to say it all...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ca y est...first week of classes complete...

...I am lucky enough this summer to be in Paris again and teaching a course in Fashion & Design to students from all over the world. I have two sections of 20+ students each and they are great - all high school age - interested, respectful and so far, they are all showing up for class(!) So, the week went something like this...DAY 1: Intro, Syllabus - Purpose: to introduce the student to the world of Paris Fashion including a brief history, the definitions & workings of Haute Couture vs. Pret-a-Porter, current designers in Paris (independent & artisinal, Trendspotting & Fashion Forecasting, Dress & Identity, and Careers in the Industry. Three excursions will be taken to different museum exhibits as well as boutiques and designer ateliers. Classroom time will include both in and outside of the building using the streets of Paris as our major resource. The kids filled out an introductory survey, i.e. who they are, where they are from, what music they listen to, what is their personal style, etc. We discussed observation and commentary with opinion as opposed to judgement and launched our first assignment of: Qu'est ce qu'on a vu dans la rue? (What did you see in the street). They were to return the next day with 3 things they observed in the street, on the metro, etc: trends, styles, details...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back in Paris...

Favorite shop in a very long time: RA, the Parisian counterpart to the Antwerp boutique. So happy they are here...I have always adored L'Eclaireur but I can barely afford anything there anymore. In the day, I could by Ann Demeulemeester there or Dirk Bikkemberg's shoes and I still love the selection at the rue Herold shop. So..., RA focuses on small little known designers, capsule collections and is on a lovely little street a few blocks from our appart. Not exactly an unknown, but I did buy a lovely Gareth Pugh dress there on Friday.
RA, 14 rue de la Corderie 75003

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Two Ships Passing - a conversation

Please join me tonight:

"Two Ships Passing" with Andy Campbell & Gail Chovan
Feb 9 6:30pm UT campus, Art Building, Rm 1.110

The Visual Arts Center in the Dept of Art & Art History at UT in collaboration with the art publication Pastelegram, presents Two Ships Passing. Often said of two people who meet for a brief but intense moment, this conversation explores pertinent topics in the creative community. By inviting a unique pairing for a dialogue, this remarkable series aims to establish a reactive space where ideas will be exchanged and unexpected conclusions will be gained.

This first edition of Two Ships Passing concerns the methods of dealing with the Profusion of Pictures in magazines, photographs, the Internet, documents, and other assorted ephemera - instead of a single work of art. The conversation explores the idea that artists and historians today see far more images much more quickly than they did a few decades ago, and the ways of sifting through and studying an abundance of images have changed in response.

Andy Campbell is a respected lecturer in Art History in the School of Art and Design at Texas State University. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. His work focuses on the visual and material culture produced by gay leathermen of the 1970s and contemporary artists who revisit and remake these visual and material documents.