In 2007, when a recent acquaintance asked me to photograph her fashion show I really didn’t know what to expect. Let’s just say they weren’t a frequent occurrence where I had grown up and recently moved from in Nebraska. I had images of velvet ropes, expensive dresses and snotty attitudes. However, entering through the alley behind the venue, a bar called the Parish on 6th st., I began to feel at home at once. I had been in a rock band in high school and had loaded in through many a similar portal.
A quick chat with my friend, the designer and hostess of the evening Mariessa and it all seems clear to me, and very Austin in it’s way. Removed from the money, prestige and competition of a major market a few people who love fashion, get their friends together and throw a great party and have a lot of fun.
Over the next few years I would photograph a handful of similar shows for Mariessa and a few others. I always loved these events. Sometimes they were part of showcases for SXSW, sometimes they were part of parties at some store, sometimes it was just a photo shoot of a new design when no show was coming up. But always behind it was passion. The desire to do something you love really well was something I could relate to. To produce a whole concert just to show your hard work off. And eventually I found myself genuinely interested in the clothing and fashions.
Growing up I had seen fashion as artifice, masking the true person, a way to define and exclude. Not until I started photographing fashion in Austin did I start to see it as expression, an important canvas with which you can change your entire persona for an hour or a lifetime.
Later in New York, I found myself working occasionally at larger, more serious fashion shows with all the velvet ropes and snotty attitudes and their toys might be shinier but it seems to me these folks aren’t having nearly the fun of it we were down in Texas.