Fashion Week struts its stuff

Gerald Rich

The second annual Austin Fashion Week wrapped up Saturday with the Austin Fashion Awards, as one UT alumnus took home an award for best designer.

Although Fashion Week is a new event to the city, this year’s celebration and awards brought together all aspects of Austin fashion including designers, photographers, models, stylists, bloggers and fashionistas.

“Coming from New Jersey, I was expecting something Southern but to me it looked like New York,” said Joanna Asia Tychowski, a cellular biology graduate student who attended the Austin Fashion Week Kick-Off fashion show. “It’s very up-to-date, cool and creative.”

Fashion Week not only brings exposure to the burgeoning fashion community but also offers an opportunity for many different parts of the community to come together. Retailers and boutiques from South Lamar, the Second Street District and the Domain all showcased designers, while salons and spas offered makeovers. Competing designers, photographers and models were also placed into mashup teams that combined their efforts to produce a single cohesive look that was judged as a part of the award ceremony.

“It’s meant to be a celebration of our local fashion community,” Fashion Week founder Matt Swinney said. “We have such a strong community … so we wanted to have one major event that would bring everyone together to gain exposure for the talent we have here in Austin, locally, regionally and nationally.”

As the week progressed, various retailers, spas and salons throughout Austin showcased local designers and their own businesses with parties and fashion shows, such as Naked Sushi, Moroccan Nights and Bollywood Nights. Unconventional fashion show locations were also used, such as the state Capitol, which hosted 37 designers from across the state, and the Austin Museum of Art, which organized a recycled fashion show with dresses made entirely of brass and old wires.

The week’s concluding award ceremony was held at the Long Center for the Performing Arts and featured performances by student and local favorites, including indie band SPEAK and pop singer Zayra. Awards were given to the best retailers, salons and spas, fashion and accessory designers, photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists and mashup teams.

In addition to Austin fashion celebrities such as Linda Asaf and “Project Runway’s” Louise Black, the event brought in more nationally known designers and models such as “Project Runway’s” Chloe Dao and “America’s Next Top Model” Cycle 14 winner Krista White.

As the night wore on, the winners were announced. Although many of the designers were UT alumni, only Tracy Tenpenny was bestowed with a golden boot award for the people’s choice for best designer.

Proceeds from raffles and silent auctions during Austin Fashion Week were given back to Dress for Success, a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged women achieve financial independence by providing them with suits for jobs and interviews.