To mark the cocktail party celebration the designers enlisted artisans to create discs similar to the ones used to make their cylinder bags, had them shipped to Austin and assembled into a hanging large-scale installation in the store. University of Texas art students were also invited to contribute to the installation — and attend the event.
“Giving the students the chance to meet Lucinda and Molly, having that kind of opportunity in Austin is so special,” said ByGeorge fashion director Laurel Pantin, who joined the store last year bringing editorial experience from InStyle, Glamour and Lucky magazines, among others. “We feel there is a lack in retail of that Barneys sensibility and sense of discovery and community that stands for something. In Austin we believe there’s a chance to create that.
“We brought on Colville for spring 2022, and we love the sustainability aspect. A lot of brands we work with are sustainable in some form…and then the female-led component we found compelling, and the clothes themselves,” added Pantin, who grew up in Austin.
“The creative collaboration with ByGeorge has been incredible from the start,” said Molloy, a Marni veteran who established Colville in 2018 with Chambers, former British Vogue fashion director. Designing in Milan, the two work with women’s social projects from Dakar to Colombia to Morocco, repurposing and reconditioning clothes and home accessories with a colorful, artisan-created spirit.
“The customers seemed super intelligent, really willing to try a new-to-them brand. And the response has been completely overwhelming. They’ve responded to the color, the cuts, the prints,” said Chambers, who was in Austin for the first time.
Creating a fashion community is a natural progression for the store, which has been in business since 1979, said ByGeorge president Molly Nutter, a former buyer for Barneys New York.
“Katy Culmo, who built the store into what it is now, this was also her mission. So when I stepped into the role it was a dream because it was going back to my roots at Barneys and picking up where they left off,” said Nutter, recalling Opening Ceremony, Bird and other fashion institutions with community and mission that have sadly closed.
“We’re finding people who come to Austin and visit ByGeorge if they haven’t heard of it, they are so happy to walk in because they don’t have that in their city anymore. So we’re suddenly a local store for people who live outside our city as well,” she said.
The store, which stocks Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Maria Cornejo, Jacquemus, Khaite, Plan C, Sacai and The Row, among others, will continue to plan designer events in the coming months, both in Austin and its newly opened New Orleans location, which recently hosted Christopher John Rogers and local art and fashion students.
“It’s how can we incorporate this next generation of talent and the people whose minds will be inspired,” said Nutter, adding that the store’s upward trajectory is yet another sign of the rising cultural currency of Austin, where South by Southwest, Austin City Limits Music Festival and Formula One have been pumping money into the economy.