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A danceable beat pumped through the speakers and sawdust lingered in the air.  As the first model in Gail Chovan‘s runway show made her way out in front of the crowd at the Delta Lumber and Millworks on the east side of Austin, I immediately felt happily surprised.  The music, and the vibe it created, was quite a contrast from Gail’s runway show last year which featured an eery orchestral version of Radiohead’s “Creep.”  Instead of the slow, and what many might have labeled as “morose,” model walks that Gail’s shows usually portray, the girls came down the runway with more standardly paced model walks.  The show was significantly more upbeat than what you might be used to seeing from the designer who is notorious for creating in all black.  However, the atmosphere of Wednesday night’s show was just as awe-inspiring and magical as ever.

Her spring collection, “Aesthetic Ghosts,” Gail said was inspired by the film “L’Amour Fou” where upon his retirement, designer Saint Laurent speaks of the “phantômes asthètiques” that have haunted him throughout his career.  Gail told me these words struck a chord in her and that she began calling upon all of the subliminal characters that inform her creativity.  Not only did she create silhouettes representative of these “characters,” but she also procured fabrics through “ghosts” of her own.  For example, Gail used fabrics from a couture remnant shop in Paris, and a friend from college who had gifted her some linen.  “That was just the beginning” Gail said.  Another goal of the collection was to expose the public to another side of her personality.  “Viewers have preconceived expectations and part of my inspiration is to shatter them.”

While “Aesthetic Ghosts” did break some expectations I had on Wednesday night, the elements of what makes Gail’s work so uniquely hers, were all still there.  The attention to fabric, texture,  and silhouettes were obvious, and while this collection felt lighter and more colorful than her previous works, the colors were still subdued and the collection felt very organic.  One of the things that I think defines a great designer is their ability to keep consistency while breaking expectancy, and that’s exactly what Gail Chovan did with her latest collection for spring.


Joanna Wilkinson
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