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Michael Barnes

Fashion X Austin, ‘Robber Bridegroom,’ Ransom Williams Farmstead and more

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Anthony Ryan and Amanda Valentine at Fashion X Austin.

Anthony Ryan and Amanda Valentine at Fashion X Austin.

STYLE: As I walked to Fashion X Austin during Austin Fashion Week, a car slowed down. A young woman yelled out the window in an approving tone: “Sassy!” An angel just earned her wings. Honestly, I don’t know why a lug like me covers Austin’s premier fashion events, but I’m not complaining. Under Matt Swinney, Fashion X Austin has colonized the Austin Music Hall like no other predecessor. Upstairs one finds a discreet VIP lounge — nothing too tony or indulgent — and a glorious gallery of fashion vendors. Downstairs, chairs are arranged around a U-shaped runway for maximum viewing. Friday, the show featured “Project Runway” contestants, including standouts Daniel Esquivel (Austin), Amanda Valentine (Nashville), Anthony Ryan (Baton Rouge) and Korto Momolu (Little Rock). Saturday, Another eight collections were combined with efficient notices about the Austin Fashion Awards winners, plus the popular Mash Up and Capsule projects, the latter consisting of groups of three looks from 10 promising Texas designers. Selected from these, Spire the Label won the Austin Fashion Fund Award, which includes a package of career-boosting gifts. Several Rising Stars winners were honored: Jessi Afshin, Chris & Wendy Bykowski, Evan Streusand and Paola Moore. Trailblazer honorees were Laura Del Villaggio, Roy Fredericks, Joshua MartinStephanie O’Neill and Rory McNeill. The list of collaborative Mash Up winners is too long to share here. We were pleased with the variety and the polish of the 26 collections — some micro-collections — that we viewed over two nights.

Ralph Macabitas and Yanira Leon at Fashion X Austin.

Ralph Macabitas and Yanira Leon at Fashion X Austin.

ARTS: When neither Suzie Harriman nor I have seen a particular musical, it must be somewhat obscure. That would apply to “Robber Bridegroom,” a Southern fairy tale adapted from a novella by Eudora Welty. It played twice, but only briefly, on Broadway. Aligned with “Into the Woods” and “Story Theater,” it conjures up a darkly funny world with a minimum of spectacle and maximum of fun. An adorable cast at St. Edward’s University made Harriman — who hosted a longtime, respected radio program about show tunes — and I grateful to finally see this odd but satisfying show. We were told that some of the more unsavory elements were eliminated, but it’s plenty dark on subjects of sexuality, violence and so forth, made palatable by the age-old conventions of fairy tales.

Dominique Walker and Sonya Henderson at Fashion X Austin.

Dominique Walker and Sonya Henderson at Fashion X Austin.

HISTORY: Unprecedented history unearthed at freed slave’s Travis County farmstead. From my story in the American Statesman: “Diggers at the Ransom Williams Farmstead in remote southern Travis County found two unusual items that they for a while called “mystery artifacts.” The small, notched metal slabs obviously served some specific purpose, but none of the archaeologists or historians who looked at them knew what they were. Or why they would be among the 25,000 objects dug up at the staggeringly copious farm site that belonged to a freed slave whose family lived there from 1871 to 1905. The solution came in a roundabout way.” http://shar.es/1pHAFg

Anai Ramirez and Omar Salcido at Fashion X Austin.

Anai Ramirez and Omar Salcido at Fashion X Austin.