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Photo by Frank Oudeman, Courtesy of Hermès

At the Hermès grand opening on Friday, April 28, the excitement — and occasional French accent was perceptible as a select number of Austinites received a glimpse of the chic new space.

Located at 1221 S. Congress Av. as part of the Music Lane development, the Hermès outpost is Austin's first and the third in Texas. Laurent-Perrier champagne flowed as the well-heeled crowd nibbled on wagyu brisket, chèvre and caviar hors-d’oeuvres, admiring the French-made silks, jewelry, clothing, and equestrian and leather goods.

Since 1837, family-owned Hermès has been synonymous with French craftsmanship and luxury. Think the coveted and hard to procure Birkin and Kelly bags, which can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $2 million, as well as iconic leather belts with a gold H clasp or silk scarves favored by Queen Elizabeth, just one of many iconic ladies known to sport an Hermès scarf.

Hermès says they chose Austin as a location because they were drawn to the city’s creativity, culture, and individuality, and that the store is an expression of the Parisian house’s heritage fused with Austin's distinctive music scene and Southwestern American spirit. The store’s design seeks to balance both the classic and the contemporary, “an idiosyncratic blend of the Texas desert landscape and Austin’s urban street vocabulary of skate and music culture…defined by minimalistic and natural elements,” according to the official description.

The architectural core of the two-story boutique, designed by the Parisian architecture agency RDAI, is a warm gray terrazzo ramp with amber accents, inspired by skate parks. A ramp connects the first floor’s perfume, beauty, jewelry and watch collections to the upper level, which houses collections for the home, ready-to-wear, accessories, and shoe salon. Throughout the store, the naturalistic textures of raffia walls and oak panels complement the graphic design of dune-colored carpets.

Among the artwork selected for the store are two pieces from the Hermès collection of contemporary photographs by American artist Terri Weifenbach and reproductions of the Appaloosa des Steppes scarf design by Alice Shirley. Hermès invited Austin-based artist Sophie Roach to create a joyous and colorful design of geometric shapes that animate the storefront window.

The boutique officially opened to the public on Saturday, April 30, but the preview party provided a sneak peek and intimate, celebratory dinner at Brazos Hall. One-hundred-seventy guests gathered on the rooftop for a three-course meal paired with a Sancerre white, Haute Côtes de Beaune red and, yes, more champagne, punctuated by haunting trombone pieces composed and conducted by Steve Parker leading the University of Texas Trombone choir.

Commemorating the brand's Austin expansion, Hermes USA CEO Robert Chavez, a Texas native, and Paris based Florian Craen, executive vice-president of sales and distribution, gave speeches and champagne toasts. The evening was as close to a French soirée as one can find in Austin, and a reminder of why we love French elegance and style.

Located at 1221 S. Congress Av., the Hermès outpost is Austin's first and the third in Texas.

Photo by Frank Oudeman, Courtesy of Hermès
Located at 1221 S. Congress Av., the Hermès outpost is Austin's first and the third in Texas.
Photo courtesy of Ventana Ballet

8 wicked Halloween weekend happenings in Austin that are a real treat

Happy haunting!

The spooky season is upon us. It’s time to embrace the macabre charm and wicked magic of All Hallows’ Eve and — hey — maybe don a different kind of face mask, one of the creepier variety, for a while.

This Halloween weekend, celebrate in Austin style: Ditch the stale candy corn and trick-or-treating fails in favor of some petrifying, silly, and downright weird experiences.

Thriller Chiller, October 30, Chaparral Ice at The Crossover
Break the ice this Halloween with a super chill family-friendly event at Chaparral Ice at newly opened Cedar Park sports and entertainment complex The Crossover. Thriller Chiller, beginning at 4 pm Saturday, includes a free haunted house and trunk-r-treating for goodies, as well as a costume contest, with the winners scoring a family four-pack of skate passes. Take to the ice during a public skate session from 4:45-7:15 pm or during the late skate from 7:30-9:30 pm.

Walking ghost tours, October 28-31, spooky sites around Austin
Get in the Halloween spirit by visiting some spirited local spots with Ghost City Tours, including The Driskill Hotel, which has long been considered haunted by ghosts of Austin’s past, as well as the Texas Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, Austin Club, the Paramount Theatre, and the historic Littlefield Building. The walking tours start at 7 and 8 pm. Be prepared to be thrilled to death.

No Tricks Just Treats, October 28-31, Museum of Ice Cream
From 10 am-9:30 pm each day, the Museum of Ice Cream Austin at the Domain will be transformed into a haunted town that visitors can explore. Scoop up some drinks specials and five different spook-tacular ice cream treats. There’s even a trick-or-treating experience and plenty of pumpkin spice milkshakes to be guzzled. Costumes are encouraged. Get tickets here.

Werewolf Costume Ball, October 29, Meanwhile Brewing Co.
If your four-legged best friend looks howlin’ cute in a Halloween costume, you won’t want to miss the inaugural Werewolf Costume Ball at Meanwhile Brewing. This free event includes dog-friendly tricks and treats; a doggie costume contest; local pup influencers; and a curated playlist from DJ Flo, including remixes of tunes from pooch film faves like Air Bud and Lady and the Tramp. And, of course, there will be access to beer and bites. This Halloween dog party will be a barking good time. RSVP here.

Zombie Western Halloween, October 29, Bull & Bowl
This mechanical-bull-meets-duckpin-bowling-alley Sixth Street hot spot is hosting a spooky celebration that’s sure to be frighteningly fun. For Wanted Dead or Alive: A Zombie Western Halloween party, Austinites are invited to get dressed up in their creepiest costumes and dine, drink, and game enough to raise the dead. The costume contest offers some scary good prizes, and there will be a live DJ set, deadly delicious drink specials (served up by zombies), and complimentary games from 7-10 pm.

Halloween Time Traveler Experience, October 29-31, Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Indulge in a transformative journey at The Spa at the Four Seasons downtown with a one-of-a-kind treatment that includes a 25-minute massage and chakra alignment, followed by a soul-enriching hypnotic experience with resident healer and hypnotist Nicole Hernandez. Expect to go within and travel to another era, dimension, and beyond. Call The Spa at 512-685-8160 to reserve your life-changing 120-minute session.

Undead, October 30-31, The Ballroom at Spider House
Professional local dance company Ventana Ballet is hosting Undead, a Haunted House of Dances, an immersive adults-only show that features 13 Austin theater and dance artists engrossing the audience in an evening of classic Halloween creatures, suspense, comedy, and terrifyingly elegant ballet. Shows start at 7:30 and 9:30 pm each night. Get tickets here.

Ugly Dog Contest, October 31, Jo’s Coffee downtown
Things are getting ugly this weekend at Jo’s in the Second Street District as the local coffee shop hosts its fourth annual Ugly Dog Contest. Pups can enter in one of three categories: ugliest dog, best costume, and best in show, with the $10 entry fee benefiting Austin Human Society. Winners will get an array of pawsitively awesome gifts. Dogtestants will strut their spooky stuff beginning at 12:30 pm, and winners will be announced at 1 pm.

Ventana Ballet's Undead.

Photo courtesy of Ventana Ballet
Ventana Ballet's Undead.
Photo by Katherine Squier

Our picks for best outfits spotted during Austin City Limits 2019

Dressed For the Fest

Austin City Limits is always a microcosm of fashion, ranging from standard festival threads to of-the-moment trends. And this year, despite the temps volleying from a high of 98 degrees to the low 60s, there was no shortage of fabulous fashion.

Among the trends spotted at this year's festival were headbands and geometric-print scarves to classic Converse and denim-on-denim looks. Read on to see who caught our eye during this year's ACL Festival.

Photo by Katherine Squier
Austin City Limits Music Festival is always a microcosm of fashion, ranging from standard festival threads to of-the-moment trends. And this year, despite the temps volleying from a high of 98 degrees into the low 60s, there was no shortage of fabulous fashion. Among the trends spotted at this year's festival were headbands and geometric-print scarves to classic Converse and denim-on-denim looks. Read on to see who caught our eye during this year's ACL Festival. --- Sarah Lobera's bright monochrome linen outfit made a chic statement in the crowd.
Photo by Shelley Neuman

Austin partygoers in full bloom during Umlauf's colorful garden party

In Bloom

What: 21st Annual Garden Party

Where: UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum

The lowdown: Amidst a backdrop of lush greenery and beautiful art, Austinites decked out in their spring best celebrated the season during the 21st annual Garden Party.

Guests enjoyed bites and drinks from 18 local eateries, and performances from a variety of Austin-based entertainers, including Mila Sarahjane Dailey and Panoramic Voices.

VIPs were treated to an extra hour of delectable dishes, including those from Moonshine Grill, Juliet Italian Kitchen, El Alma, Truluck's, Intero, and Darcy's Donkey. Once the doors officially opened, hundreds of guests ambled from station to station, all while sipping cocktails and wine pairings from Twin Liquors and mingling with fellow garden partygoers.

Like in past years, the outfits were as dazzling as the gardens themselves, with some guests donning hats worthy of the Kentucky Derby, while still others dressed in steampunk-inspired garb.

As the night played on, so did the the music, and attendees to the Umlauf's beloved Garden Party toasted to another fabulous year.

Who: Jason Rogers, Danielle Harkness, Carly Castillo, Taylor Bowman, Alison Edwards, Isaiah Quiroz and Samantha Quiroz, Ali Reyna, Ragan Melton, Frances Thompson, Lamar Sanchez and Jed Sanchez, Patrick Johnson and Cortney Johnson, Katy Gelhausen, Allie Wester, Liz Novak, and Kristen Hubby.

Jason Rogers, Danielle Harkness, Carly Castillo, Taylor Bowman.

Photo by Shelley Neuman
Jason Rogers, Danielle Harkness, Carly Castillo, Taylor Bowman.
Photo by Shelley Neuman

Our picks for best outfits spotted during SXSW 2019

Best of the Fest

People watching is at its peak during SXSW. As the city fills to the brim with visitors from all over the world who are dressed to impress, we get a glimpse of all kinds of styles.

From laid-back looks to outrageous outfits, these are our favorite looks from SXSW 2019.

Photo by Shelley Neuman
People watching is at its peak during SXSW. As the city fills to the brim with visitors from all over the world who are dressed to impress, we get a glimpse of all kinds of styles. From laid-back looks to outrageous outfits, these are our favorite styles from SXSW 2019. --- Self-titled "Queen of Pink" Amanda van Effrink.
Photo by Shelley Neuman

Hollywood celebs and festivalgoers cultivate cool looks at stylish SXSW event

Creating Good Looks

Create & Cultivate made its way back to Austin for its third year at SXSW, featuring female-centric programming, free food and drinks, hair styling and makeup stations, giveaways, and more.

Each year, C&C draws crowds of stylish business-savvy women ready to network and hear from respected leaders in industries like wellness, fashion, tech, and entertainment. The highlight of this year's event — hosted at The Allan House — was a conversation with C&C founder Jaclyn Johnson and Russian Doll star Natasha Lyonne, who spoke on the origins of her Netflix hit show, queer representation in entertainment, her newfound love of studying philosophy, among other things.

While she didn't confirm if a season season of Russian Doll is coming or not (dang!), she did let the crowd know that she has plenty more ideas she's ready to bring to the screen.

Photo by Shelley Neuman
Create & Cultivate made its way back to Austin for a third year during SXSW on March 9, with female-centric programming, free food and drinks, hair styling and makeup stations, giveaways, and more. Each year, C&C draws crowds of stylish, business-savvy women, ready to network and hear from respected leaders in industries like wellness, fashion, tech, and entertainment. The highlight of this year's event — hosted at The Allan House — was a conversation with C&C founder Jaclyn Johnson and Russian Doll star Natasha Lyonne, who spoke on the origins of her Netflix hit show, queer representation in entertainment, and her newfound love of studying philosophy, among other things. While she didn't confirm if a second season of Russian Doll is coming or not (dang!), Lyonne did let the crowd know that she has plenty more ideas she's ready to bring to the screen. --- Natasha Lyonne and Jaclyn Johnson
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26 Austin restaurants and bars that are giving back on GivingTuesday

Tastes Good

Even Austinites who love to give time and funds on a regular basis — weekly volunteering, donating in friends' names for birthdays, participating in crowdfunding when it comes up — it’s a lot to keep track of. Especially during the holiday season, shopping for friends, family, and busy-time-of-the-year incidentals, a lot of our good intentions fade to the background.

There is a worldwide holiday to keep people on track: GivingTuesday, a recent addition to the Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday pipeline, asks people to take a step back from the consumerist shuffle and think about what they can give outside of their usual habits.

This year, it falls on November 29, and local nonprofit I Live Here, I Give Here (ILHIGH) has a long cheat sheet for Austinites looking to make a difference, including a roster of 26 food and drink businesses donating a portion of proceeds from November 26 to December 2.

GivingTuesday is split into regions, by country and then further by city. ILHIGH, the organization that founded Amplify Austin Day in 2013, is going into its sixth GivingTuesday as the official leader of the Central Texas region, offering a searchable, categorized list of Austin nonprofits that would love some help. The restaurant portion is a little different; organized in partnership with Good Work Austin, a restaurant industry support system that also works against food insecurity, the initiative gets Austinites familiar with local restaurants while knowing their tab is going to a good cause.

The 26 restaurants participating in ILHIGH’s GivingTuesday initiative are:

  • North Austin: Barrett's Coffee, Black Star Co-op, Brentwood Social House, Casey's New Orleans Snowballs, Eldorado Cafe, Epoch Coffee, Little Ola's Biscuits, West Pecan Coffee + Beer (Pflugerville)
  • Northeast Austin: L'Oca d'Oro, Southern Soul Bowl, Taterque, Tso Chinese
  • East Austin: Bento Picnic, Dai Due, Flitch Coffee, Greater Goods Coffee, Hillside Farmacy, The Cavalier
  • Downtown: Little Wu, Olamaie, Swift's Attic, Wu Chow
  • South Austin: Maie Day, Patika, Tso Chinese, House Wine
  • West Austin: Chez Zee, Epoch Coffee

Interested donors who can’t make it for a meal can use amplifyatx.org to donate to ILHIGH directly, or to donate to another organization, to which they may add an additional contribution to the ILHIGH fund before checkout.

More information about the GivingTuesday campaign is available at ilivehereigivehere.org, and on the organization’s social media.

H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

---

The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans