Meet longtime ByGeorge enthusiast and stylish Austinite, Clara Heironimus. At once elegant, funny and charming, Clara has been a devoted ByGeorge customer for decades. We were lucky enough to catch up with Clara recently in her home to not only photograph her in a few of the season’s best looks, but to chat all things art, fashion and of course, sunglasses - her accessory of choice.
ByGeorge: You have beautiful art throughout your home. Which piece kickstarted your collection?
Clara Heironimus: In a whole other life - back in the 70's - I worked at Laguna Gloria Art Museum. There was a sales and rental gallery connected to the museum with art work from local artists and from galleries in San Antonio and Houston. That is where my interest in art began. I have never wanted to paint, but I do like creating things - mainly for my grandsons - like their recent Advent calendar.
BG: …Tell us about your favorite piece, Mountain Mama.
CH: Mountain Mama is a piece painted by local Austin artist LuAnn Barrow. I purchased it while working at Laguna Gloria. I love its primitive nature and the story it's telling - it makes me smile when I look at it. In more recent years my husband and I have enjoyed purchasing art in Santa Fe and in New York. We have just about run out of wall space so we are limited to small pieces.
BG: Let’s talk sunglasses. Which pair is your favorite?
CH: I started wearing sunglasses in high school - my first pair having snazzy cat eye frames. In sunny Austin Texas it is very easy to get used to wearing sunglasses all the time - I mostly forget I have them on. At the moment the glasses I get the most comments on have red frames.
BG: Other than your collections of sunglasses and art, can you tell us a little about the glass figurines you’ve collected? (pictured above)
CH: My mother collected antique cut glass so I suppose my love of glass comes naturally - though I am drawn to animal pieces by Lalique and Baccarat. Most of the figures have been gifts from my husband for Christmas or other special occasions.
BG: And speaking of, we’ve heard that your husband is a veterinarian and that you’ve raised some interesting animals over the years…
CH: My husband, Bob Kelly, is a retired veterinarian. We have had our share of cats and one dog and when we lived on a larger property we had a pair of Sicilian miniature donkeys. We had Annie and Hootie - a female and male donkey - and eventually they had baby Belle. They were lovely pets and when we moved to town it was very hard to give them up. A friend from my high school days who lives in Dripping Springs on a ranch took them and added our three to her two and now she has a small herd!
BG: How long have you been shopping at ByGeorge?
CH: I have been shopping at ByGeorge since the store was located on Rio Grande off of 29th Street.
BG: Is there a designer or style that you gravitate to?
CH: I like simple, classic designs in a rather limited palette - black, navy, white/cream, olive drab. I gravitate to solids mostly - pattern is usually not my thing - except for camo! And I am mostly a pant person. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was young, so fine fabrics and excellent construction are important to me. I like The Row, Lanvin, Celine, Tomas Maier.
BG: What do you love about shopping in the store?
CH: I like shopping at ByGeorge because I know the sales staff - and they know me. It is close to where I live and is convenient. I like the size of the store - not so big - not too small. And, of course, I like their clothing brands and also the shoes and vast array of handbags. And interesting jewels. It's an atmosphere I enjoy - a well designed, modern space.
BG: What are some of your favorite hidden gems around Austin?
CH: I grew up in Austin - I have lived here since I was 2 1/2 yrs old. I'm not so sure about hidden gems - many places that I remember are now gone. I enjoy Barton Springs with the grand boys, Lady Bird Lake walking with friends, the Boardwalk, south Congress, the Capital grounds, my neighborhood, Pease Park - gems, certainly, but not hidden.
As seen in the pages of Tribeza's January 2015 issue:
Photography by Ben Sklar