Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SCAR - Gail Chovan's 18th Annual Fashion Show in Austin Texas.

SCAR 18 - Gail Chovan fashion show by Alton DuLaney
Gail Chovan Fashion Show November 1, 2015 in Austin, Texas photograph by Alton DuLaney
 This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend and participate in Gail Chovan's 18th annual fashion event called SCAR in Austin, Texas. I have been involved with her shows since their inception in 1998, to greater or lesser degrees. This year, being based in Texas, gave me easy access to the event, and I got to spend more time with the designer before, during, and after the show, as well as contribute to the design and styling of the event.

Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin, Texas photograph by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Gail Chovan has dedicated her life to the Art of Fashion. She studied fashion design in Paris, before moving to Austin, Texas 20 years ago. In Austin, she has became a fashion legend, starting the iconic boutique Blackmail in 1997, and having held annual fashion shows ever year since. She now shows her collection at the Void Showroom in Paris, and at various boutiques around the world, including Blackmail on South Congress Avenue, in Austin.

At the Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin, photograph by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The Gail Chovan Atelier on South 1st Street in Austin is a hubbub of activity and creative chaos. I arrived the morning of the show and the team was scrambling to get all the last minute adjustments completed.
At the Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin, photograph by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Chovan's team includes design assistants, interns, stichers, hair and make up team, set designers, production designers, and numerous other creative consultants such as myself.
My Assistant Aldo at the Gail Chovan Atelier in Austin photograph by Alton DuLaney 2015
Even I have an assistant, Aldo offers a lot of support and inspiration on all my creative endeavors.
Gail Chovan Fashion Show in Austin Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney
Meanwhile over at the event space, a beautiful Victorian home in downtown Austin, the production team was busy setting things up and getting everything ready for the big event.

Gail Chovan backstage at SCAR in Austin, Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
Backstage, the team was busy with hair and makeup, fittings, and last minute styling of the models and the collection. In all 15 models would be sent down the runway.

Gail Chovan with Stylelikeu documentary team in Austin Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney 2015
There was also a documentary team there from NYC, Stylelikeu, http://stylelikeu.com/ who are working on a documentary of Gail Chovan's life and art, and that of her husband Evan Voyles. The team has been following and documenting Gail for over a year now.

Alton DuLaney and Creed styling the pool fashion installation for Gail Chovan in Austin Texas photo by Todd Wolfson
I was put in charge of the pool installation, which involved rigging a cat walk and modeling platform suspended over a pool on the grounds. Gail's son Creed helped me style the space with scraps of fabrics, pieces of patterns, and eucalyptus before bringing out the model.

Pool Fashion Installation executed and styled by Alton DuLaney in Austin Texas November 2015.

The model, Kaidon Ho, was drapped in vintage lace and precariously placed in the middle of the pool to greet guests as they arrived for the fashion show.

Alton DuLaney and Kaidon Ho photographed by Ellen Bartel in Austin Texas November 2015
After all models were dressed and in their places, we all got to relax a little with some champagne and take some photos posing with our handiwork.

Gail Chovan fashion show SCAR in Austin Texas photographed by Alton DuLaney November 2015
The main fashion show started exactly at dusk. To the musical accompaniment of a saw, the models made their way across the lawn, surrounded by candles and hundreds of fashionistas, buyers, fans, and guests, who came to see the show. The collection was a celebration of the imperfect, with unfinished edges, raw and jagged cuts, grafting fabrics, and other fashion techniques employed to highlight the nature of scarring. Chovan herself is a breast-cancer survivor and wears the scars of her double mastectomy proudly across her chest, visible in her plunging necklines and low cut, transparent gowns.

Gail's family sat on the front row, other guests sat on carpets or stood to get a better view. Afterwards, a round of thunderous applause was followed by champagne fueled mingling about the grounds and within the three-story home.
Gail Chovan, fashion maven, in Austin Texas.
The response was positive, and the press, both in Paris and in Austin, was supportive. All in all another very successful show.

Gail Chovan teaching fashion design at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas
The next morning, I got to discuss the challenges of living a creative life and producing art with Gail at her office and classroom at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where she teaches design.

Gail Chovan is not only a dedicated designer, but an inspiration to many.


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