"Who are you supposed to be?”
"Are you a cartoon character?”
Pretty sure I’m a person.
"You must be a celebrity?”
Not yet, but I’m working on it.
"Is that your real hair?”
"Do you wear that wig all the time?”
Yes. I grew it myself.
"Why’s your style so crazy?"
(Top 6 questions as asked by the SXSWers of 2017)
Believe it or not, this my first trip outside of New York in the US (not sure NJ counts). TSB is in full fashion mode. Suitcase loaded up with a variety of Discount Universe sequined extravaganzas and a tonne of ISLYNYC’s most colorful and incredible laser cut creations. SXSW, it’s on.
JFK - Dallas/Fort Worth - Austin/Bergstrom. Detour to Hotel Vegas. Pick up my homies (Sherpa) and hit up Austin’s video gaming hub, Pinballz. Spend fortune on video games, losing hand over first (can’t be good at everything!). Sherpa brings home the bacon with a win of over a thousand tickets which we trade in for two inflatable emoji babies.
Arrive at destination. Staying at a mansion in North Austin that wouldn’t be out of place on an episode of cribs. Complete with giant dog (aptly named Bear) and black and white Japanese Ragdoll cat (Todd). Todd hates men for being alive but deigns me as suitable bedtime company for the week. I’m not worthy.
Sunday morning arrives before I know it and it’s go time.
First stop, Decoded Fashion house at Hangar Lounge for Influencers + Brands + Insta-Commerce sesh. It’s totally over capacity so we have the LOLS in the queue instead. Get inside at the end for a cheeky mimosa and meet Gucci-fabulous Hues of Man. Kindred shades n sequins spirits. Next encounter - a Jackalope. Impromptu photo shoot ensues.
Sherpa’s speaking on a Fashion Tech panel (he’s smart you see) hosted by the wonderful Veronkia Harbick of Thursday Finest - who make the raddest socks with a 3D knitting machine. They both nail it.
It’s time for a prosecco party in the hills in the fanciest of houses to celebrate.
Access is obtained solely on outfit creds. ISLYNYC ICON shades play a blinder. Oscar worthy supporting performances from Opening Ceremony faux fur checkered bomber, DU mermaid sweater and backstage pass dress seal the deal.
Meet many cool peeps including Seán from SUPA in branded overalls. Their jam is biometrics + sport + fashion + AI. And I need some of that swag STAT.
Monday. Feels like it should be Tuesday but it’s definitely a bow day. My one and only from House of La Rue. Discount Universe crying eyes crop top and new IRS leather cowgirl skirt come out to play. PG / pre-watershed version of ensemble is made possible by Topshop Finds Oriental bomber (boob coverage). Fancy a bit of height too so Ash velcro wedge sneakers are just the job.
Make for the convention center exhibitor hall and Virtual Reality is what's up today.
Take a quick trip Australia and snorkel in the Ningaloo Reef (without getting hair wet which is pretty amazing). Miss the coffee and Tim Tams (devo) but tour of The Great Ocean Road makes up for it. Melbourne I miss you! A visit is on the cards soon.
Wanna to go to Tokyo (definitely dressed for the occasion) but queue is too long. Dammit. But maybe see you in October?
(Learn that the term ‘queueing’ is highly amusing to Americans over the course of the week.)
Virtual realities. Alternative realities. Ghostbusters-esque proton-esque back packs. VR guiding hands to help when you can’t figure out how to maneuver virtual reality. Food growing technology. Shoppable video technology. Mind is blowing up with ideas.
Stella? Don’t mind if I do. Pay a visit to my people at the Enterprise Ireland stand for a cheeky Guinness.
Photos. Photos. Photos. Lady who takes a photo of me at her booth promoting Virtual Payroll and very earnestly says “you can tweet that” makes my day.
Depart exhibitor hall but not before purchasing beaded African handmade collar. As spotted by Sherpa.
To Pandora stage cos there’s some MUZIK going on. !!! KILL it with the fun and the moves. I just wanna be on stage with them.
(Considering starting a band. For reals.)
Tuesday. Sherpa drags me out of bed recognizing that it’s time for therapy. Of The Scarlet Bob variety. Shopping.
Top drawer. New Bohemia. Blue Velvet. Bertha’s. Killer finds. Low prices. Love Austin.
Fast n furious photoshoot with emoji babies. Feeling seriously low key today in MAJE ruffle print dress, Fenty socks and Opening Cermony Sandals.
Throw a cheese and wine party at le mansion. (Mostly wine) courtesy of Baron’s Creek Vineyard. Tremendous company. Austinites X SXSWers. Gotta love them.
Tuesgayz at Barbarella is our night spot. Dancing all night long.
Wednesday. It’s time for Texas Mom outfit.
Neon Cowboys crisp white hat is making it's début, ordered specifically for Texas trip. (Didn’t wanna look out of place.) Mom shirt picked up at previous day’s thrifting. (Thanks Top Drawer.) And trusted, possibly most regularly worn item in my wardrobe, DU logo pants.
Riding in the truck making like a Texan.
Downtown it’s New Dutch Wave beats at Swan Dive.
Skipping about enjoying the sunshine.
Evening arrives. Serious decisions need to be made. Solange plays the YouTube venue. Gotta get in line.
Make fast friends with the peeps in the queue. Waiting. Waiting. Make the first 150. Thank You Jesus (or who/whatever). Waiting. Waiting. WAAAAITING. Another two hours before she comes on stage but man, what a SHOW. Powder blue styling perfection. Smooth, sensual choreography. Definitely worth it.
Thursday. And TODAY IS THE DAY.
The day for custom ISLYNYC X The Scarlet Bob X PAOM SCARLET BOB EXTRAVAGANZA. Scarlet bobs for days. Full body. Eyes and ears.
Austin’s not sure what to make of it all but they take a lot of pictures. Some even get involved.
Dashing here. Dashing there. I can hardly keep up with myself. Sherpa makes sure it all happens.
Meet the guys from Barcelona based fashion brand COOL SHIT who are basically making and selling cool shit. Their silver bomber and boxing shorts combo shall be mine!!!
Have an Insta-becomes-real-life-moment and meet fellow rainbow Insta babe BBYWEEMS and all the cool chicks from the all girl rock band Potty Mouth. Check them out!!!
Friday? Well it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Seems only a few people in Austin to have got the memo. I keep it country with my green sequin Irish flag baseball cap and Adidas vest. Shiny new DU socks make their debut along with Hunter pool shoes. Yes. Socks AND sandals and I’m not sorry.
Drown the shamrock with a few margaritas and radioactive looking green Jell-O shots.
Back to le mansion for a strategic change (sequins obvs) and hit up the Nakid Magazine party.
Discount Universe Backstage Pass dress does its thing. DU leopard sequin boots are ready for dancing. FINALLY I get to wear the amazing POW earrings designed for BCALLA’s SS2017 collection by ISLYNYC. I've dreamt about this moment since their release last September and the time has finally come!!! (See? Dreams DO come true!)
The sequins n plastic overload is further overloaded by more sequins. (A necessary adjustment.) Behold my most recent acquisition. Vintage MOSCHINO most unbelievable 80s shoulder padded jacket in the mintiest of conditions. I’m hardly ready for myself in this outfit.
Nakid Magazine party isn’t either.
Photos. Photos. Titos. Photos. (No margaritas)
“Are you performing?”
(Honestly, next year I reckon I will be - piano and clarinet playing version of Gemma will be reprised. Now accepting applications for 2018 version of The Spice Girls meet Liberace. Be prepared to wear sequins.)
DOWWWN TOWWWN where all the lights are bright (and people are wasted on the streets). Get to Parish for a smidge of civilization. Backstage pass dress gets us backstage. Hang with the bands until home time.
Saturday. And It’s last chance saloon for this Austin trip. Super quick dash back to convention center.
Meet PAOM's most creative colorbomb and all-round cool chick, Amy Cakes. Purchase PAOM pink leggings and crop top coord as memento. Say hi and bye to the guys at COOL SHIT.
Next stop Raquel’s Party Land piñata store. Giant emojis. Princesses. Elves. Donald Trumps. Wanna stay all day / possibly move in but schedule is tight.
Back to mansion. Gather up The Scarlet Mess. Packing. Downsizing? Ehh…Never successful. Squeeze all sequins into suitcase.
Require Sherpa’s assistance to get it shut. Praying the locks don’t burst open.
An emotional goodbye with Todd.
Sherpa’s airport taxi brings me to the airport (funnily enough).
Queue at check in desk for dreaded bag weigh in. Pray once again for miraculous temporary weight reduction. Someone up there is looking out for me.
It's in. I’m out. SXSW. Austin. It’s been real.
See you next year!
GLOSSARY OF TERMS (in order of appearance)
Sherpa - friend / helper of friends in need / explorer / human trip advisor / life coach / photographer / performer / host with the most / wine baron
Queueing - Irish English for 'waiting in line'. So basically a New Yorker's favorite past time.
Pool Shoes - Irish English for the flat sandal type footwear people wear around a pool. Open toe. Thick strap across the width of the foot. Generally make from plastic / rubber so water doesn't bother them.