Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The perfect mix - Anthropologie in Austin.

This month's Anthropologie catalog arrived a week or so ago to my great delight. The publication is always a beauty with good design, quality paper, lovely photography, and of course interesting items for sale. I save all of them as future sewing inspiration (as my long-term goal is to improve my sewing skills to a point where I can recreate their clothing, tailored for my personal shape and taste). So naturally this edition of the catalog was a welcome addition to the mail pile. I picked it up right away. Imagine my delight when I opened the cover, and lo and behold, there were images of my favorite Texas city as the backdrop to the issue. Anthropologie featured Austin, Texas! I am very proud to say that I recognize many of the places in the catalog, which only serves to reinforce my self esteem and affirm that indeed, my tastes are as cool and hip as those of my favorite overprices store.

Being so delighted with the featured location, I spent very little time looking at the clothing, and much more time looking at the sites and scenes in the catalog. So I guess it turns out that location may be my #1 favorite fashion accessory, not shoes.

To prove my passion for the city, I have featured some of my favorite locations in the catalog along with personal anecdotes (and ramblings) about how you too can partake in the magic of the place. Just don't forget to wear your best folk-urban, drapey-fitted, multi-layered, vintage-yet-fashion forward outfit. You will fit right in.

South Congress Street:
This model is undoubtedly standing on South Congress Street, a main north-south avenue that runs from the Texas State Capital south past the river and into South Austin. This is where the street gets interesting. Rumor has it that in days before my time, this street was rampant with nothing but ladies of the night, sleazy bars and cheap motels. Now it hosts quirky local eateries, hip shopping - both local boutiques and chains, and my favorite hotel of all time, the Hotel San Jose (its a revamped 1930's motor court!). You may remember my ode to cupcakes at the airstream bakery Hey Cupcake! from a few months back. Well that is just one of the notable features of South Congress. I can (and sometimes do) focus my entire trip to Austin on this stretch of road.

Jo's Coffee:
This little caffeine haven sits in the parking lot of my favorite hotel ever, the Hotel San Jose (see above). Granted, it is a bit presumptuous of me to call it my favorite hotel, as I have never stayed in the place, but I have sneaked in to use their bathroom on multiple occasions and that offers some credibility (the lobby restrooms feature transparent frosted glass doors and vintage music posters on the walls). I have also spent time drinking sangria on their pool deck with the beautiful people of Austin. But the hotel aside, Jo's is my favorite place for coffee in Austin because of their signature drink, the Iced Turbo. It's part coffee, part sweetened milk, part chocolate, part ice, and part utterly delicious. Also, they are a strictly outdoor venue with a big covered patio where they play live music and where I once pet the most beautiful gray standard poodle. Good times.

The Alamo Drafthouse:
This place is a signature Texas thing to me, as it is pretty much the first place where I have had the chance to catch a flick, grab dinner, and relax with a pint all at once. That's because The Drafthouse does it all, and they do it with attitude. They show standard and unique films. They serve food. And as you can tell from the name, they also serve beer. It's good. Every row of seats has a generous bar in front to accommodate your pints (or wine glasses, if you prefer). You can order and eat throughout the movie. The theater, now a Texas chain/franchise, plays a lot of new releases, but they also have a strong local event schedule with special features to suit their regulars' preferences. Think along the lines of a "The Big Lebowski" screening, where anyone wearing their bathrobe receives a free White Russian. They also broadcast sports, Oscar award ceremonies, and this year they did a special season finale screening of Battlestar Galactica. They spotlight homemade pre-show entertainment (my favorite includes "What to do in case of zombie attack" with instructions in retro-styled graphics on how to destroy a zombie's brain), plus lots of local micro brews, and good food. It's a casual movie-going experience that focuses on the whole experience of attending a flick, not just the film itself. And the most beautiful theater is in Austin, pictured above.

Deep Eddy Pool/Austin Swimming Holes:
The model above is standing near a Deep Eddy Cafe sign. I have never been to the cafe, but I can vouch for the Deep Eddy itself. In classic Austin fashion, Deep Eddy is a spring fed public pool fed by crisp Texas waters. Not only that, but the place is historic, complete with a renovated bathhouse. The Deep Eddy Bathhouse provides me an outlet for my outdoor shower daydream. Just look at theirs. The men's room even features an outdoor pagoda and shower. I love outdoor showers. Someday I will share with you my plans for a dream backyard (hint, it involves installing my very own custom outdoor shower), but for now just enjoy the though of an old-school Austin swimming hole and cocktails at the cafe after your dip.

Austin's vintage and boutique shopping:
Austin is full of great shopping - vintage, kitsch, boutique, artisan and generic chain shopping. The one problem with shopping in Austin though is that everybody is shopping in Austin. That means that sometimes the pickin's are slim, and always the prices are high. Just try to find a second hand plaid button up shirt or a pair of vintage leather knee high boots for thrift store prices...fat chance. The beautiful people of Austin have already swiped them up, and for three times what you would pay in another city. But I am not complaining, because even though I rarely buy in Austin, I love to browse. Austin stores stock the kind of hip, funky stuff that the rest of Texas can only dream about and drool over in glossy magazines. I mean look at that location in the photo above, it looks like an Anthropologie set, but that is a bonafied real store. Wow.

* As a quick side note, I am IN LOVE with the "Airy Surplus Sweater" featured in this picture. What a dream with its drapey sleeves and cut and cinched in waist with three covered buttons. I see myself it with a blue camisole barely peeking through, a chunky blue or green necklace, and maybe a headband.

I couldn't let this catalog tour of Austin end without showing you this picture. I don't know where this photo was taken, but it does indeed embody Austin's vibe. The place is retro, fun, and casual, but still maintains a very large and in charge attitude. I love this picture though, probably because I love large letter postcards.

So there you have it. One of Texas' most perfect cities, feature in all of its glory as the set for an unnaturally perfect retail chain. And this of course brings me to one final point about Austin AND Anthropologie. They are both a bit unattainable. Austin sometimes feels like a walking Anthropologie catalog. It is full of beautiful people, most of them well dressed and painfully hip. I attribute this to the massive student population. Those that are not overly hip are undoubtedly independently wealthy from lucrative business ventures. So it is hard to feel like a standout among the city's population. Nonetheless, if you aren't there to make a splash, it is one of the more charismatic and friendly cities to enjoy. I hope you visit soon.


Samwar said...

I found where that mural is located.
At a place called Roadhouse Relics. It looks like someplace you would enjoy, like that cool sign place on the corner of 10 and Hildebrand.

Samwar said...

I also found a blog posting discussing where each spot in the catalog was shot. :) http://design-crisis.com/?p=342 There's a link to the part 1 post in the top of the article.

Sarah said...

This was a fun walk down memory lane as you describe many of the hip, happenin' places you and Sam have taken us too. I like Austin too!

Anonymous said...

wow, where is the Old South store (first picture) located? Seems like a great place for a photoshoot.