Style makers interviewed by MP Mueller and Brittani Sonnenberg
Photographs by Randal Ford
An individual’s style is a view into their inner workings: their unique story. Defining our own style is not so much about finding ourselves, but about creating who we are. What we choose to wear is the silent broadcast of what makes us feel strong and completely at home in our skins.
In the months leading up to this issue, we canvassed stylistas and thought leaders, asking which Austinites they felt most embodied style. On these next pages, you’ll meet six of your neighbors, most of them photographed in their homes, in their favorite outfits. With wonderfully diverse styles, they all seem to have tweaked Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, injecting style to immediately follow food and water. We thank them for sharing their stories. And to Randal Ford for these iconic images, mil gracias.
Philanthropist, former president and chairperson of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, founder and sole member of the Buzzard Society.
Back in the 30s, when I was a little girl, my mother had a friend who [subscribed to] Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, even though she didn’t have two dimes to rub together. She would pass the magazines on to me. I think that’s how I developed my eye for fashion. Everyone’s fashion options were limited [because there was so little money], but women made do with a few pieces of good jewelry.
I was an art student in college, and we tended to wear red and purple together when others wouldn’t dare. Clothes give you the opportunity to make a strong first impression. After that, it’s up to your personality.
I believe in investing money in good clothes with excellent design. Christian Lacroix was my favorite: beautiful fabrics and excellent colors. Everyone around me got in the habit of wearing a little black dress, which I thought was ridiculous.
I began wearing my buzzard feather in the seventies. My husband and I were living at the Glass Mountain Ranch and our visitors were all kinds of wildlife: porcupines, panthers and lots of birds. We couldn’t do much riding, so I would walk, staying close to the ranch house, and just enjoy watching the buzzards. Buzzards are beautiful soarers; they just sail through the sky. I would pick up their feathers, clean them and wear them. Later I decided to start the Buzzard Society. Everyone wanted to join, but I told them, “I’m sorry, but I’m the only member.” Now if I don’t wear the feather, everyone wants to know: where’s your feather?
Nobody should be intimidated by fashion. That’s a lot of baloney. All you need is a good imagination.
Fashion stylist, lovechildmag.com proprietress, street style thrill seeker.
Style comes down to self-expression: people who dress how they want, people who are not afraid to take chances.
My love of style started when I was in New York City. I moved there in 2008 to teach kindergarten. The culture, the people, the street style … it’s hard not to be drawn to it. I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology there on the weekends, nights and summers while teaching full-time. After I graduated, I moved back to Austin, to the comfort of my family and to start my business.
I’m drawn to bold colors, bold patterns, very minimal jewelry. I like things that tell a story and have a pop of color. If I’m wearing a neutral dress, I’ll bring color in with a clutch or jewelry, or vice versa. Sunroom is my go-to store. Lucy Jolis, the owner, gets my style – “Less is more, but make a statement.”
Love Child is a website I started for women like me who don’t want to lose themselves in their pregnancies. I started gathering information on how to take care of myself and maintain the lifestyle I was living: being social, working out, fashion styling. I put all the things I learned into one centralized place and shared with my friends.
Austin style is effortless, colorful – especially coming from New York where everything is black – and eclectic. You see a lot of influences from other places blended here. For fashion inspiration, one of my favorite places to hang out is Jo’s on South Congress. There are a million different walks of life: tourists, shop owners, Austinites. I was on South Congress yesterday and it was hard not to get out of my car and ask one woman where she got her outfit.
Dr. John Hogg
Radiologist, philanthropist, former Yamboree participant.
I grew up in Gilmer, a small town in northeast Texas, and my earliest fashion memories center around the Yamboree Pageant. It was a big to-do, we’re talking high camp. Freda Hogg, my cousin, ran for the Yamboree Queen one year in a silent bid. I’ll never forget it – my family put in an amount they thought would win, but the Hoggs were always tight, so they didn’t go a penny above that amount. Well, another family had gone to the horse races and won, without telling anyone. And that’s how a Proctor girl became the Yamboree Queen for the first time in 20 years – big drama. But we Hoggs were still determined to have the most stylish float.
In college I began collecting things like vintage necklaces. I love pieces that have an interesting story, and I gravitate toward a glam sort of look. People, especially men, are often intimidated by bold colors and jewelry, but I’m just not. A carved sterling belt that I bought one year, designed by Cody Sanderson, wound up in the “Definitive Book of Southwestern Jewelry.” You’re attracted to certain aesthetics, proportion and scale, and you learn how to listen to that.
When you grow up tall, you realize that you’re going to stand out no matter what … so you might as well have fun doing it, give people a smile and wear something a little outrageous.
A girlfriend of mine once told me that whenever she felt down, she got in bed and put on all her jewelry. After that she was cured. Sometimes you just have to get out your toys and put them all on. You don’t have to go anywhere, just wear your jewels (real or costume, doesn’t matter) around the house, and you feel better. I’m telling you: it’s great therapy.
Health and wellness influencer, apothecary owner, extraordinary camera-lens tamer.
I’ve always been interested in style. It’s part of growing up in New York City, but I didn’t start experimenting with things I loved until I was in my late 20s. I’m influenced by classic Parisian style and ’90s Calvin Klein ads.
Style is the first thing people see when they meet you, so it’s a representation of how you feel about yourself and the world you live in. It says something before your mouth does. You need to be comfortable with who you are in order to have healthy relationships with other people.
My grandmother was from England, and I’m wondering if something from her came down the line. [British people] are very well put together. I’m a person who is put-together, even though it’s laid back and comfy – it could be some cool, drop-crotch pants. I went to Solange’s birthday party in New Orleans recently. We had to wear beiges, whites and church hats. People now are leaning toward classic staples that are ethically made.
I love my spaces to be open and bright, like a blank canvas. I grew up around clutter … the city of New York can be grimy and dark. I love minimal, very comfortable style and European interior design – it’s never trendy, and they mix the old and new so well. But minimal can be sterile and cold if you don’t do it the right way. Doing tone-on-tone in whites and creams makes a place feel bright and calm and that’s really important to me [since] I work from home. This backdrop lets live things – like fruits, plants and flowers – stand out.
Art, health and creating are the things I’m passionate about. I don’t touch anything unless I’m passionate about it.
Stylist, unrepentant coat addict.
When I was nine or ten, I told my mother that I would be dressing myself from now on. She would pick out the ugliest stuff for me to wear: oversized, baggy shirts; neon with khaki. So I said, “Mom, no more. I’m choosing my own stuff, sorry.” Now I help her pick out clothes. She has a problem that plagues a lot of women: she’s not used to clothes that accentuate her shape. I’ll pull out something that defines her waist and she’ll say, “No, that’s too tight.”
The only fashion tie to my Midwestern roots is my immense love for coats, which is irrational in Austin because you almost never need one. I probably have 20 coats. It’s a top piece that can be so much fun – patterned and a little crazy.
In college, I was a triple major in political science, German and sociology. I’ve always had the dichotomy of being a very analytical person, combined with an artistic side that doesn’t always match up.
The older I’ve gotten, the less I concentrate on trends. My focus has shifted to higher-quality investment pieces. In my ’30s, I’ve stepped away from the pattern-mixing that used to be my signature look.
The rise of style bloggers initially served as inspiration for me, and the positive feedback I received online was helpful in nurturing my own look. But now I have the feeling that [social media] is oversaturated, so I try not to engage too much with it. Before the rise of [sponsored posts], Instagram was a more creative space. There’s a need for a more authentic fashion community. Online is fine, but it’s nice to have an outlet in real life where you can meet people who care about fashion, too.
Fashion designer, 2012 “Project Runway” finalist, couturier of the shower-curtain shift dress.
Growing up in Austin, we didn’t have money. I made my own clothes to go out clubbing at Club Iguana. I’ve always been inspired by the ’40s, ’50s Hitchcock style that Edith Head did for his films. My mom is a big fan. I learned to sew from her when I was eight. I consult with her on everything I do.
I made it to the final four on “Project Runway” and they still let me show my collection at the New York Fashion Week on the runway. I got to go to Berlin with the show and it really changed my life.
My favorite piece is a guayabera from Christian Dior from the ’60s and ’70s. I got it at Goodwill. My dad wore it, so it’s sentimental to me. Instead of wearing head-to-toe-designer, it’s all about mixing pieces and how you put it together.
I also work at David’s Bridal. Most people don’t know who I am and that’s good. I just helped a bride who had nobody there with her; her mom had just passed away. I often cry with customers and get emotionally attached for those few minutes when they find their dresses.
When I first got off “Project Runway,” I had no money and was couch-hopping. I made a collection in my friend’s apartment. I used a zebra-print shower curtain from Target and made a classic shift dress. It showed at Austin Fashion Week. I had several ladies come up and say, “I want that dress.” I told them where the fabric came from and they didn’t care. I go back to that story because it humbles me. You can have everything and not have everything. And you can make something from nothing.
No deer were harmed in the making of Daniel’s jacket.
Read more from the Style Issue | September 2016