Fashion finds: Christmas bazaar offers stylish options
Find fashion gifts for all at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.
What do a vintage tie, mohair arm warmer and triangle handbag all have in common with a decidedly Austin holiday tradition? You can find them all at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.
Organizers of the show, now in its 37th season, decided to include more fashion and jewelry designers to expand the Armadillo’s style index while still complementing Austin’s laid-back style. “When you think of an art fest or show, you probably think of sculpture and pottery,” says Anne Kelley, the show’s assistant producer and marketing director. “But lately it’s been with the craft revolution that we’re seeing more textiles in art.”
Armadillo’s recent focus on fashion motivates local clothing designer Meiling Chang.
“Fashion is sometimes not seen as artistic as other forms of art, and I’m very happy that the show is looking to increase this part,” she says. “Artists of all different disciplines can draw inspiration from many unlikely sources, and the inclusion of more fashion can make the show more dynamic.”
The designers they’ve accepted all “complement some of the high-end artists and keep up with our fine art aspect,” Kelley said.
At Armadillo this year, the designers range from Austin Fashion Week participants to Armadillo veterans to a former Project Runway contestant. Here’s more about the stylish looks that will be available at Armadillo at Palmer Events Center through Monday.
East meets West knitwear
Chang remembers helping
her mother create and mend clothing for her and her sisters in her native Taiwan. Her natural artistic sensibilities came through early on with singing, dancing and drawing skills.
“Seeing my ideas flow from my mind to paper and finally to fabric was a very visceral experience that I had never experienced before and fell in love with,” says Chang, who is now based in Austin.
Chang says her Western and Eastern fashion design educations have given her a “unique perspective on design and results in timeless and one-of-a-kind pieces.”
She uses natural materials such as cotton, linen and silk for her designs. At the Armadillo, she’s focusing on knitwear and accessories. Chang, who has presented her designs at Austin Fashion Week, uses fine yarns such as cashmere and fine mohair for her knitwear line.
“I experiment with different blends of wool in order to create fine pieces with striking color blends for both winter and spring,” she says.
After designing in Austin for years, she has found the culture of the city to be one of her inspirations.
“My line continues to evolve alongside my own experiences, and I hope that the influence of my time here can be observed through my pieces,” she says.
Wearable, whimsical fashion
Former Project Runway (Season 2) contestant Marla Duran brings her vintage-inspired clothes to the Armadillo for the first time this season.
“There’s a bit of whimsy to my clothes — the fabrics and the combinations of patterns,” she says. “My clothes are wearable, versatile, and work into one’s wardrobe.”
For the show, she’ll have shirts for men and women, including some items with rodeo and cowboy motifs that give the clothing a Western feel.
Duran created her first line in 1988. She previously worked as a potter’s apprentice, and she studied French in Paris, where she got some insight into style. She now lives in Pennsylvania.
“I love expressing myself through clothing,” Duran says. “And working with textiles seemed like a great fit.”
Architectural leather handbags
For leather artisan Tom Thomas, who lives on a bluff above Lake Belton, inspiration comes from seeing an impressive skyline or a beautifully designed building.
“I get a little thrill and a big smile,” he says. “I love architecture, and consider it the highest combination of man’s artistic and engineering abilities.”
Thomas has been a part of the Armadillo’s growing fashion component for the past 21 years and has been a leather smith for 43 years. His son Shawn has joined him as a business partner, which is no surprise considering that as a 2-year-old he “worked his first art show sleeping in a basket below a sales table.”
Thomas uses architectural design methods to form unusual shapes into practical leather bags.
“I love angles and con- tours,” he says. “I try to make interesting shapes that fit a woman’s form and her practical need to carry personal items in a comfortable bag.”
Screen prints with vintage style
Joining Armadillo’s new wave of clothing designers this season is Victoria Corbett, who grew up in England but now lives in Austin. The multitalented designer is also an illustrator and multimedia artist, giving her designs added depth.
Corbett spends much of her time doing the things she loves most: drawing, painting and designing. She’s inspired the most from turn of the century illustrated manuals, Asian art and hand drawn illustrations.
Armadillo shoppers can expect to see a wide variety of her hand illustrated and screen-printed clothing, accessories and home wares. Corbett says her designs such as her vintage men’s screenprinted ties capture Austin’s richness and creativity.
Corbett doesn’t think items have to be expensive to have style or personality.
“I’ve often found some great hidden treasures at old junk stores and secondhand clothing stores,” she says.
Beadwork transcends decades
Inspired by art deco and Victorian periods, Robert Day of Robert Hendrix Day Beadwork designs and works with beads and stones to create jewelry to reflect that love.
“Being an avid gardener, changing seasons will influence my color palate,” Day says. “I often say each piece is an exercise in color.”
Day’s beadwork showcases intricate details, making it wearable art. The Austin-based jeweler has been part of the show for 36 years and is excited about the new designers at the show.
“After all these years, I still look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones and shopping,” he says.
Screened and tied. Men’s hand screen-printed ties, $30, by Victoria Corbett.
Vintageinspired ruffled dress, $250, by Marla Duran.
Austria crystal beads and Czech glass teardrop necklace and earrings, $225, by Robert Hendrix Day Beadwork.
Jersey screen printed scarf, $32, by Victoria
Victrola Designs booth at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar in Austin.
$169, by Meline.
Green buttoned alpaca wool sweater,
The Phi bag, $169, by Thomas Leathers.