The Best of Austin Fashion Week, From Bikes on the Runway to Hot Male Models

With three years now under its belt and an impressive lineup of local, national and international designers joining its ranks, we think it’s safe to say that Austin Fashion Week is quickly becoming a fashion week to watch. From the week’s unique show and presentation venues, to a slew of cleverly themed parties and designer meet-and-greets--not to mention the noteworthy talent showcased--there was no shortage of exciting, quirky and downright impressive sights to see during AFW. After a week of party hopping and show-going all over town, we’ve rounded up the top ten highlights from the capital city’s most fashionable events.

With three years now under its belt and an impressive lineup of local, national and international designers joining its ranks, we think it’s safe to say that Austin Fashion Week is quickly becoming a

9. Crazy Hair and Makeup

While the clothes were undoubtedly the focus of AFW, the hair and makeup artists that support the industry were just as much a part of the celebration. The talent behind many of the week’s featured salons had plenty of opportunity to showcase their artistic visions alongside their designer counterparts; many stole the spotlight, we must say. From elaborate facial adornments to impeccably coiffed dos, Austin’s beauty gurus brought a little something extra to the week.

8. DIY

One of the things that really sets this fashion week apart from others around the world is its hands-on approach. Often encouraging customers and party-goers to get their hands dirty, AFW gave the general fashion-loving public the opportunity to help with, or even take over, the design process on many occasions. Local craft bar The WonderCraft offered

7. Bicycles, Toe Shoes, and Smiles on the Runways

Expression-less models and run-of-the-mill production? Not at AFW. Each night, runway shows and presentations were chock-full of surprises that kept audience members on the edge of their seats, wondering what they would see next. Gorgeous male models riding bicycles? Yes, please. From kisses blown, to peace signs thrown, to a catwalk done completely en pointe, there was certainly no shortage of

5. AFW Shows Men's and Children’s Wear, Too

Impeccably dressed male models and balloon-toting wee ones had their fair share of runway time at AFW. Russian-born, Dallas-based League of Rebels sent sleek, minimalist business suits down the runway while Kathy Scoggin delved into the little girl's imagination with sweet, playful dresses for her new label, My Gigi. And at a slightly less G-rated show the night before, U.K.-based James Tudor made audiences swoon with his newest lineup of male underwear. How’s that for keeping things interesting?

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4. British Designers Stole the Show

Speaking of English talent, our designer friends from across the pond really raised the bar this year with their oh-so-proud U.K.-themed shows. Not only did the previously mentioned James Tudor wow us with unmentionables, but his models also looked like true English gents carrying brollies and sporting billycocks (aka: umbrellas and bowler hats). And Designer Fhernando Colunga celebrated his English background via ladylike looks, Royal-Wedding-esque hats, and Union Jack-printed dresses.

3. Lust-Worthy Jewelry

One of the most impressive (and surprising) highlights of the week was the jewelry design on display. Often outshining the fashion headliners, jewelry makers from Austin, Houston and beyond brought their best and brightest to AFW. Designer Catherine Nicole showed her newest collection of fair-trade pieces, made from natural elements like lava and precious stones, while Manhattan-based Meghan Patrice Riley presented her capsule collection of nylon-coated steel pieces inspired by the celestial pole, Axis Mundi. Other pieces of note included hand-cast architectural rings and necklaces from F. Is For Frank, world travel inspired items from San Francisco’s Third Culture Jewelry and even feathers encased in microscope slides from Austin-based René Guest.

2. ANTM’s Hannah Jones Made a Splash

Remember that impossibly tall, doll-faced blonde from Cycle 16 of America’s Next Top Model? Twenty-year-old Hannah Jones was spotted strutting her stuff down almost every catwalk during AFW, obviously putting her hard learned lessons from Ms. Banks to good use. Not only did she outshine her leggy counterparts with winks, hat tips and the occasional ditzy-girl persona on the runway, this down-to-earth Houstonian was thrilled to be continuing her modeling career in the Lone-Star State. “I’m a Texas girl all around,” she said of her southern roots. “I’m from Houston, studied in Austin and now I live in Dallas.” And even though she’s currently based in the Big D, the nearly six-foot-tall model gushed about getting to bring her talents to the capital city. Her favorite part about AFW? “The male models.”

1. AFW Wrap-Up Awards Show

The number one spot on our list of AFW’s Top 10, without a doubt, goes to the action-packed and emotional awards show that brought a great 2011 Austin Fashion Week to a close. The show, hosted by radio personality Kim Iverson, started with a high-energy break dance performance that quickly segued into a celebration of the week’s crème of the crop: the incredibly talented jewelry designer Kendra Scott took the night’s top honor, Best Designer (Industry Choice). Rounding out the evening was Josh Vietti, who wowed us with his offbeat violin renditions of hip-hop tunes.

The closing night event featured four incredible runway shows, each offering something different. An eerily ethereal black-and-white show styled by local boutique owner Gail Chovan was followed up by the international debut of Rory Beca’s Holiday 2011 collection. Michelle Weisman, former head designer for Shoshanna, had the first-ever runway show for her new label, 81 Poppies, in addition to Fall 2011 ensembles from Melissa Coker’s ultra-girly line, Wren.

And after a few more awards, inappropriate jokes and a heartfelt thank you from founder Matt Swinney, AFW came to a close, leaving guests already marking their calendars for 2012.