Guest article by Lisa Taylor
Fashion has left an indelible mark on our social conscience, whether we’re aware of it or not. If you were alive in the 80’s, you know what “Hammer” pants were and who they were associated with. Music and fashion have often melded into a unique expression of the artist, but it’s not just music that has brought fashion into our social stream of awareness.
Not surprisingly, fashion made its way into politics as well. One of our most photographed First Ladies was Jacqueline Kennedy, known for her fabulous sense of style. From her sheath dresses to her statement scarves or pillbox hats, she was always turned out impeccably. The same was true of Texas’ own, Lady Bird Johnson. And on September 12th at the LBJ Library, classic style and creative vision came together for an evening of expression, remembrance and music celebrating Lady Bird Johnson and seven Austin designers, who are on the path to make their own mark in the fashion world and our social conscience.
MOD: A Modern Take on 60’s Fashion
Last weekend, the LBJ Presidential Library partnered with Austin Fashion Week to present MOD: A Modern Take on ‘60s Fashion. This event featured original looks from seven Austin designers, inspired by Lady Bird Johnson’s White House years. The seven Austin designers asked to create these pieces were Ross Bennett, Crowned Bird, Gail Chovan, Daniel Esquivel, Amber Perley, Boudoir Queen and Rare Trends. Each designer selected a dress worn by Lady Bird during her time in the White House and created a modern look inspired by that piece.
It seemed the whole of Austin turned out for the event, held in the main auditorium of the Library. During the cocktail hour, big screens throughout the space showed old reels of Lady Bird wearing many of the pieces that were to be highlighted that evening. Then the lights were dimmed, and on either side of the room each designer stood with their model wearing the newly created piece. The original inspiration was displayed on a mannequin next to them.
Austin’s Own Fashion Star
Prior to the event, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the designers, Ross Bennett, about his piece and the fashion industry as a whole.
Ross’s piece from Lady Bird’s collection brings the Far East to Central Texas. Many of the 21 dresses the designers had to choose from were very tailored. But Ross chose one that had more of a Sari feel to it, a look he ordinarily wouldn’t have chosen. He wanted to create a one of a kind piece that had his stamp on it, but that would be wearable in today’s fashion climate. The dress was a hit, as were all the pieces unveiled at the event.
You may remember Ross Bennett from the first season of NBC’s Fashion Star. What you may not know is that he is also the creator of the Circuit of the Americas F1 Grid Girl uniforms, as well as the founder and creative genius behind The Ross Bennett Collection.
He never expected to design beautiful clothes. Ross moved to Austin from Dallas in 2002 to attend The University of Texas, planning on a Pre-Law degree so he could eventually make his way into the family business back in Dallas. But shortly after his arrival, he switched gears and decided on fashion design.
From The University of Texas to his eventual stint on Fashion Star, Ross never lost sight of what he wants: to create beautiful clothes for women. His ultimate desire is to have a storefront on Congress where woman can pick up designer pieces, enjoy a latte and visit with their friends in a cool, eclectic, casual environment. From the sound of it, this gal thinks he’ll get there. I can’t wait to have a seat at that coffee counter after searching for that one perfect outfit for my next big event.
Before that endeavor, Ross has another big project brewing. His first child should be born in December this year, and he is just like any other proud, excited father who will be meeting his son for the first time. The excitement in his voice as he talks about the arrival of his son is infectious, and there’s that gleam in his eye. That artist gleam. The one that means the wheels are turning again. And instantly I know this guy has a lot more to bring us.
Lisa Taylor is a music lover, aspiring writer, and military veteran who has served for almost 25 years in the Army. She has lived in and around Austin, Texas since 1970. Read more from Lisa on her blog.
Have you ever participated in any Austin Fashion Week events?