A cherry red carpet and fleet of shiny Ferrari Formula One autos greeted party-goers who arrived under the stars at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum on the evening of August 10, ready to kickoff Austin Fashion Week (AFW) for the Shift Into Style event in partnership with the Circuit of the Americas(COTA).
The night was filled with Austinites in gorgeous ensembles, both on the runway and off. The First Lady of Texas, Anita Perry, opened the show and eloquently set the stage for the emcees, fashion and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders of Formula One racing: the COTA Girls.
Hosts of the fashion show were motor sports broadcaster Jonathon Green and beauty queen turned TV personality Holly Mills-Gardner. The former Miss USA Texas stunned in a full-skirted cocktail length dress that was created for her by top Austin fashion designer Linda Asaf.
Upstairs, the museum featured a gallery of Formula One photography, silent auction benefiting the ARC of the Capital Area and light bites by Parkside, Olive & June, the Backspace, Truluck’s, Iron Cactus, Siena and Sentelli’s.
The ARC, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, displayed several pieces of artwork created by their students. Each painting paired with an article of clothing or jewelry by designers Kendra Scott, Megan Summerville, Anne Marie Beard, Demian & Alex, Linda Asaf, Lana Chu, Jessica Ciarla and Micah Yancey. These pieces will be celebrated and auctioned at the organization’s upcoming Building Bridges gala on October 3, 2012. Additional beneficiaries of ticket sales from the event were Seton Breast Cancer Center and Dell Children’s Blood and Cancer Center.
Yale and FIT graduates Robert and Rachel Danes, who hail from San Antonio but operate out of New York City, presented an exquisite group of ultra feminine gowns under their label, DANES. The couple has been married for over 20 years and has worked together on designs for most of those years, dressing women around the globe. Among their clientele are princesses, opera and ballet chairwomen and, of course, collectors.
The Danes were invited to be a part of the AFW-COTA opening night event by their good friend and Austin resident, Mica Mosbacher, Honorary Consul to Iceland and member of the COTA host committee. Mosbacher was also responsible for connecting the designer to First Lady of Texas Anita Perry, who wore a DANES Collection gown at the 2011 Inaugural festivities. Both women wore original, custom-fitted outfits which the Danes are famous for — distinctive design with superb fit.
“Our clothes are inspired by real women. The ideas are usually about making modern, clean, sculptural lines that flatter us,” designer Rachel Danes explained. ”We work with women from size 0 to 22 and fit is very important to us. We work a lot with corsets, then the gown form is built on top of that corset.”
Shortly after the women exited, F1 driver Alexander Rossi represented Austin-based menswear boutique Keepers on the runway modeling masculine looks for fall. The clothes were rich in colors: plum, brown, black, navy. A crowd favorite ensemble was a tailored casual look that paired cuffed jeans with a wildly patterned button down and a blazer.
Finally, the show’s finale arrived with much acclaim. Tarrytown native Ross Bennett of NBC’s Fashion Star fame outfitted the COTA Girls in southwestern-inspired uniforms and red cowboy boots. Using leather fringe and a theme of turquoise, red, tan and cream fabrics, Bennett conveyed a strong Texan feeling for the group of women that is soon to represent an international sport when Formula One racing comes to Austin for the first time in the USA this November.
Austin Fashion Week will continue through August 18. A schedule of events can be found here.