Lisa Siva | Editorial Assistant, TRIBEZA
When I was ten, my most prized possession was a red coat with a faux fur-trimmed collar. It was a coat fit for a queen, enveloping me in its satiny lining and rich, unmistakable color. Over a decade later, as I have had wonderful opportunities to meet and write about Austin’s vibrant store owners, jewelry makers and clothing designers, I’ve realized that we all have our own red coat of sorts—the pieces that transform us, the pieces that are windows through which our brightest selves shine. Today, that self is a little Françoise Hardy and a little Jenna Lyons, feminine, with a few touches—a bold boot, a tailored blazer—borrowed from the boys. And with Austin’s eclectic array of well-curated local boutiques, from Girl Next Door’s youthful elegance to Fawn + Raven’s speakeasy atmosphere, this city has been the perfect place to discover a style of my own.
What was your favorite piece of clothing as a child?
As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to wear just anything I wanted to. Once I was out on my own, I was able to figure out who I was and what I liked.
What is your current wardrobe staple?
Red Wing boots, selvedge denim and old motorcycle t-shirts
Which decade in fashion do you identify most with?
I identify most with 60's and 70's biker styling. I am a sucker for soft leather motorcycle boots and dirty denim.
If you could trade wardrobes with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I love Chet Baker's style in the 1950's. He had amazing style and simple outfits that fit right and looked classic.
What is your favorite place in the world to shop?
My favorite places to shop have to be anywhere that no one else has been—that’s when I feel the happiest.
When Sarah Ann Mockbee, a sixth-generation Mississippian, moved to New York City in 2001, she became accustomed to her father, the architect Samuel Mockbee, helping her make friends by introducing her to his former students. When he encouraged her to meet filmmaker Sam Douglas, she thought it was, you know, just another one of those things. But on their first date, over cabbage rolls and pancakes at a Russian coffee shop, they fell in love.
Douglas had already passed the parent test: he’d gotten to know Sarah Ann’s father while making a documentary about him, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio. The couple transitioned to Austin in 2006, and immediately felt right at home, thanks to industry friends, six degrees of the South, and tacos round the clock.
Anyone who’s had the pleasure of sipping cava at the Hotel San José (with wisteria in bloom and a killer sound track overhead), thumbing through vintage vinyl at the sumptuous Hotel Saint Cecilia, or standing under a West Texas sky watching Tift Merritt or Barbara Lynn kick up some dust at El Cosmico, an 18-acre trailer, tent, and tepee hotel and campground in Marfa, knows that Liz Lambert’s beloved boutique hotels are inspired by and devoted to music. SXSJ, her annual music festival concurrent with SXSW (held in the parking lot behind Jo’s Coffee) features artists like Billy Jo Shaver and Alejandro Escovedo and icy cans of Modelo, no wristband required. Since the chance of getting a room at her Austin hotels this month is about as likely as discovering no line at Franklin Barbecue, we were thrilled when the reigning queen of modern Texas style offered to share her personal playlist of songs she’s loving right this minute.
It’s an overcast Sunday afternoon and the staff at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon on North Burnet Road is preparing for their busiest night of the week. The chickens that live in a coop out back are fed, escape, and a brief parking lot chase ensues. A rustic, hand-painted bingo table is set up in the back. Fragrant barbecued brisket tacos are delivered and everyone gets hungry. In a few hours Dale Watson and His Lonestars will play to a packed house that will include old-timers, tattooed hipsters, and bus-loads of Dutch, Croatian, Australian, and French tourists.
Watson has been playing Ginny’s for more than 15 years. He immortalized the bar in the song “Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint,” with lyrics taken from a sign that hangs behind the place (“no fussin’ no cussin’; no hasslin’ no wrestlin’”). And then earlier this year, he bought it.
One of the greatest things about music is its ability to transport the listener to another time and place, but with social media and technology proliferating flash in the pan musical trends, it’s only natural that crowds would start gravitating towards the type of timeless sounds that date back to when a Facebook was a collection of black and white portraits.
When Max Frost arrives at Whisler’s, a bar on Austin’s gritty east side, for our photo shoot, he’s straight from lunch with his dad. A bartender recognizes him and squeals. “I remember seeing you perform at Hyde Park Grill when you were like, 12,” she says. “I’m so glad you’re doing what you’re doing. Tell your mom hi!”
Not everyone can forge a career in his hometown, from the uncensored control of his laptop, with family and tacos nearby. Max Frost, the 21-year old musician, producer, and songwriter was born the same year as the Internet, but he grew up to a soundtrack of the Beatles, Sinatra, and Tony Bennett that his parents played on vinyl. He developed his own eclectic style in his teens, inspired by artists like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, and playing with everyone from Bob Schneider to hip-hop producer MC Kydd.
Over a two-fisted burger, I find myself staring into the winsome face of jazz songstress Kat Edmonson. She’s calmly watching me eat, while companions Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett look on. Normally I’d offer them a bite—especially Willie, because you know he’s likely got the munchies—but not this time. Two-dimensional images hunger for little more than admiration.
The walls of Hopdoddy Burger Bar are covered with the portraits of beloved local musicians. They make good company, and like the signed actor headshots that adorn many an L.A. diner, they speak to our pervasive culture. Austin doesn’t just pride itself on music—from sunup to sundown music permeates every nook and cranny of our lives.