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Two models slowly creeped down the double runway, their footsteps in sync like soldiers, but their walk as light as ballerinas.  Gail Chovan’s runway show at the Austin Fashion Week Awards reminded me once again how fully encompassing her shows always are.   Gail Chovan, local designer and owner of Blackmail boutique and atelier, is one of Austin’s veteran designers.  Gail notoriously considers herself to design outside of Austin’s fashionable comfort zone by adhering to a more avant garde European-taught design aesthetic.  Gail studied fashion design in Paris and now teaches there when she can.  Her collections consistently invoke emotion within me, and I look at her designs like works of art.

Her most recent collection, which graced the runways on Saturday night, left me thinking about the dichotomy of power, and vulnerability.  The show was titled “Abiquiu,” and Gail says the collection was inspired by the life of Georgia O’Keefe when she was living in New Mexico.  Gail is known for working with black fabric, but this collection was a change for the designer because it contained several pieces in all white. Gail says this was inspired by O’Keefe’s tendency to wear black in the fall & winter and white in the spring & summer.

Gail told me she wanted her designs to have an organic feel of weightlessness, yet with the balance of sound construction.  Using deerskin and linen fabric, Gail accomplished this juxtaposition by creating pieces which she says are products of the New Mexico desert, “where the sand and wind blow up against the smoothness & strength of the adobe structures.”

Doesn’t it make you feel all sorts of good inside when you go to any type of artistic show and you actually understand and feel what the artist was trying to express?  That’s what Gail Chovan’s “Abiquiu” did to me, and I was once again left mesmerized by her work and her ability to make a statement.


photography by Patrick Meredith

Joanna Wilkinson
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