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a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
JULY 25, 2014
T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
31
Comedian Ralph
Hardesty stops foot
traffic in the frozen
food aisle with his
billowy ensemble.
THE ARTS
style
It’s the summer of the caftan. The long,
flowing, unisex garment has been preparing
for its close-up since
Mary-Kate Olsen
first
donned a silken 39-gallon Lawn and Leaf bag
on the red carpet in the mid-Aughts; last
year, when her high-end label the
Row
sent
the quintessential caftan down the runway, it
was like watching a bohemian flower finally
burst – or, as it were, billow – into bloom.
Resort 2014
was lousy with them, and
while fashion-heads may be ready
to move on to deconstructed vol-
ume pieces like
Chloe
’s caf-
tanesque separates, the sin-
gle, simple, floor-dusting
rectangle of fabric is offi-
cially wearable.
Caftans as resort-wear
are nothing new; the giant
envelopes of embellished
fabric practically scream “I
plan to do nothing more chal-
lenging today than lift this moji-
to glass to my lips while alternate-
ly napping on a divan and skimming
through my favorite
Barbara Vine
novel.”
What’s new is the interpretation of “resort.”
As in, one must resort to sartorial acts of
rebellious fantasy when August looms, the air
conditioning is spotty, and one simply can’t
manage the Hamptons this summer – or, for
that matter, the Hampton Inn in
Nacogdoches. I scored my caftan at the
warehouse-sized
House of Vintage
while on
a house-swap vacation in Portland. At first
blush, I confess, I viewed it mainly as lounge-
wear. But should it be? When Angelina Jolie,
Uma Thurman, and other drama queens are
wearing caftans to gala affairs, shouldn’t I be
wearing mine at least out to the H-E-B, inspir-
ing “baby bump” and tattoo-gone-awry rumors
among my friends and neighbors?
The key to caftan dressing outside the home
is straight-up panache, and the key to panache
is accessorizing. A jeweled sandal or state-
ment necklace politely informs the curious
spectator that you are draped in fashion, not
brain fog. Many think the caftan itself has anti-
depressant properties beyond the uplifting
effects of an uninhibited lungful of
air; just ask
Isadora Duncan
.
(But do watch those trailing
hemlines around escalators
and other motorized people-
movers. A good caftan isn’t
worth dying for.)
One couldn’t do much
better for caft-cessorizing
than local jewelry line
Suzanna Dai
. A Houston
native and graduate of
UT-Austin, designer
Suzie
Gallehugh
recently moved back
to Austin after establishing her line of
splashy, over-the-top appliqué jewelry in New
York. I recently talked with Gallehugh at Jo’s
on Second, across the street from Eliza Page,
where she had a trunk show not long ago,
and around the corner from her Downtown
loft. During her 13-year stint in New York
(“New York’s kind of a time vortex, suddenly
it’s five years later and you’re like, where did
the time go?”), Gallehugh gained experience
in embellishment-heavy corners of the fashion
industry, briefly designing Madame Alexander
doll clothes and “accessories-based” table-
wares, including beaded and embroidered fab-
ric meant to look almost like jewelry.
So it’s not really sur-
prising that Gallehugh,
who taught herself
beading and embroi-
dery skills as a child,
turned to jewelry itself.
Inspired by the intricate
geometric patterns like
those found in Twenties
deco beadwork and
Native American tex-
tiles, Gallehugh
designs her custom
appliqués on fabric
backing. The edges are
then tightly bound with
metallic embroidery
thread and backed with
subtle, soft suede. The
result is statement jew-
elry that weighs almost
nothing: chandelier ear-
rings that don’t drag at
your earlobes, a breast-
plate pendant that
doesn’t give you a neck
ache, a Wonder Woman
cuff you don’t have to
remove to type. Sure, you could wear them
with a white T-shirt and designer jeans, as
Gallehugh was when we met for coffee. Or
you could throw them on over a floor-length,
embroidered caftan with some fabulous plat-
form sandals and go – well, I hear the cafe at
the new H-E-B is pretty good.
Suzanna Dai is available locally at Calypso St.
Barth, Eliza Page, Julian Gold, Valentine’s Too, and her
website,
www.suzannadai.com
.
For images of caftans in the wild, check out this
week’s online photo gallery.
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