Being fashionable in a supremely fashionable city, like Milan or New York or Paris or Miami, is as easy as pie. It’s pretty much the law – break it at the risk of committing social suicide.
On the contrary, being fashionable in a supremely non-fashionable city, like Fort Worth, takes a lot of chutzpah. First, you gotta deal with sniggering rednecks. You can just hear ’em, speaking in sotto voce, ’cause they don’t have the guts to say what they wanna say face to face. (Redneck 1 to Redneck 2: “Look at that fancy boy down at the other end of the bar. What a pansy. With his Dolce & Gabbana shirt and his Diesel jeans.” Redneck 2 to Redneck 1: “His what and his what?!”) Second, there aren’t many places around where A.) hip new clothes are sold and B.) where people will appreciate the hip new clothing you just bought.
Believe it or not, there are some fashionistas here, and these fearless folks do what they can to rally the troops while trying to win over a few converts. Last weekend, there was a huge bash on East Vickery to celebrate the return of one of Fort Worth’s most progressive hairdressing duos. After closing shop about a year ago, party monster Lawrence Walker and business parter Christopher Johnson have just opened in a new spot, and their new joint, Christopher Walker hair salon, was lousy with good-looking, good-smelling, nicely coiffed, and nicely attired (and did I say good-looking?) Gen-Y’ers and X’ers. Watching some of the babe-age dance to the funky groove of jazzbos Confusatron made me feel as if I’d just swallowed 15 raw jalapeño peppers – sweaty, flush-faced, and a little scared.
Elsewhere, the owner of another of Fort Worth’s most successful salons is opening a second location, in Grapevine. I credit nice guy Ali Bonilla with single-handedly introducing the concept of “fashion show” into our nightlife lingua franca. By breaking into Stripmallville – um, I mean Grapevine – Bonilla will have himself a whole new audience to school. (Stuffy Grapeviners may even be more non-hip than us yokels here in Fort Worth.)
Bonilla’s sometimes-partner-in-crime, nightlife impresario and fashion mogul Robert Coronado, is also back in business. After closing his TCU-area boutique, Rockstar Jeans, a couple of months ago, Coronado is holding a grand opening party for his new unnamed place at 1702 8th Ave. this week. If you’re lucky, the crowd will be as hot as the one at Christopher Walker’s. Visit www.myspace.com/rockstarjeanshop.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Fort Worth’s got the fashion flu, but – in a city that perennially threatens the No. 1 spot on Men’s Health’s annual fattest cities list – a little appearance-awareness among the yokels is a plus.
Behind the Velvet Lasso
Contrary to its homey image, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is just like any other mainstream cultural event in its pursuit of potential major benefactors. Since rodeo brass can’t really offer anything that appeals to folks who’ve never worked a day of manual labor in their lives, the honchos of the Cowtown institution provide – what else? – exclusivity. Last weekend, I swung by the Will Rogers Memorial Complex, the site of the event, and, having pulled a bunch of strings earlier in the week, I was allowed into the Backstage Club, a kind-of makeshift hang-out inside the Will Rogers Coliseum. A members-only upstairs bar that overlooks the livestock action, the club serves up ice-cold, 16-oz. brews in coozies and lip-smackin’ good barbecue on paper plates. It’s also the place to be seen during Rodeo time.
My visit left me a little perplexed: While tipping glasses alongside cowboys and girls and taking in the rustic vibe made me proud to be a Fort Worthian, I sometimes felt as if I was hanging out at Michael’s Ancho Chile Bar – pretty much the same slightly older, well-moneyed crowd that regularly haunts Michael’s had made the Backstage Club scene.
The moral of the story: Even though I spotted Hollywood movie star and native Fort Worthian Bill Paxton, I don’t think you’re missing anything by not being invited Backstage. But don’t let anything stop you from becoming a Rodeo sponsor if you can. For more info, visit www.fwstockshowrodeo.com.
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Christopher Walker Salon
2008 W Vickery, FW.
Will Rogers Coliseum, FW.