Last month, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a fashion show at the V Bar at the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. It’s funny how you’re going along, ticking off things on your list, and the next thing you know, you get an email from your editor and — voila! — you are standing in the middle of an elegant bar holding an iced tea and a bag full of notebooks, waiting for the very nice waiter to bring your Kobe beef hamburger.
The bar was a swirl of business women with freshly blown-out hair and trim ensembles befitting the San Antonio fall weather. Handsome gentlemen in business casual wandered hither and thither, talking business, carefully glancing over at all of the beautiful women, and in all ways appearing soignée.
The event, Fashiontini at the Hotel Valencia, featuring clothing from Julian Gold, long the store of stylish women of San Antonio, was benefitting and promoting the newly created Marrow Match Foundation. The gentleman sitting next to me had come in from out of town, and I cannot remember his name. For the sake of this story, let’s call him Mr. Bob. Mr. Bob came in to get a drink and check out the local talent. We sat munching our french fries as the lights lowered and quick-stepping music started.
“So,” said Mr. Bob. “I notice you have a notebook.”
“Yup,” I said. “I’m a freelance fashion columnist for the San Antonio Current.”
“I’ve never seen a fashion show,” said Mr. Bob.
The first model came out wearing an empire-waist dress, probably silk, with strategic cut-outs.
“Wow,” said Mr. Bob.
“Well, it’s an empire-waist dress, meaning that the original silhouette comes from the Napoleonic era, when women wore gauzy, almost see-through muslin gowns. Also, in any fashion show, you want the first garment to set the tone for the rest of the show.”
“You know a lot about fashion.”
“Yeah.” I munched my burger in contemplation.
“You want me to call this show for you?”
“Sure,” he said.
“OK, notice the way the models walk. They don’t walk like normal people. Their gait either glides so that the fabric falls and pools around the body, showing off the fluidity of the textile, or they do a horse-like step to show how strong the tailored line of the garment is.”
Another model, in an
Audrey-Hepburn-esque gown, appeared. An obvious nod to Givenchy, and I told Mr. Bob as much.
“Oh, it’s like a sports event!” said Mr. Bob.
Yes, Mr. Bob, it is. “Note how the women turn at the end of the catwalk to show the gown from a 360-degree perspective. This movement is important because it not only shows how the piece looks from all directions, but gives a hint as to the construction of the garment, whether it will suit the prospective wearer.”
A silver silk-lamé gown with umbrella pleating came down the runway, fitted to a model who walked so the hem fluttered around her sculpted ankles.
“Oooooh,” I said. “Isn’t that an amazing thing?”
“Very sexy,” said Mr. Bob.
“Why do you think it’s sexy, exactly?”
“Well, it shows off the woman’s body,” he said. “And her body, well ... ”
At this point my plate of food fell off my lap and landed on the floor. We scrambled to pick up the tomatoes and remaining french fries.
“Remember this, Mr. Bob,” I said sternly. “What men find sexy is often the allusion to a woman’s body, not the body itself. What is notable about this garment is that it only illuminates her collarbones and her ankles. The rest is merely gesture.”
“Art,” he said, with a wave of his hand. And then he asked, “Do you know where the nearest place to go dancing is?”
I offered him directions to the nearest dance club, and he wandered off. I wondered as I sat there with my iced tea and notebook in my lap, what will Mr. Bob take away from this experience? The strange little woman with the starry scarf over a jacket hand-tailored in Hong Kong and her weird pronouncements (shades of Edith Head)? The luminous women on the catwalk with their thousand-yard stares? The pervasive world of clothing that appears right in front of him every day, unnoticed by him except for its potential for sensual encounter?
I would never know. It is, after all, merely a fashion show, no? •
Where to get it
Fashiontini takes place once a month at VBar in the Hotel Valencia (150 E. Houston St.). December’s event, featuring SA’s new Blonde Boutique, is 5:30-7:30pm Thu, Dec 4. Call
(210) 227-9700 for more information, or visit hotelvalencia.com. The Fashiontini Group at the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk can be found on Facebook, under “fashiontini.”