Local Style: Margaret Bechtold

Interview by Brittani Lepley
Photography by Alexandra Valenti

Meet Stylist, Margaret Bechtold!

You moved here from New York. Tell me what made you decide on Austin? Where are you originally from?

My Austin move was a totally instinctual one. My husband and I had no plans to leave New York, but there was this feeling we both had when we visited friends here one summer. It’s hard to describe, but it just felt right, and we followed that hunch and picked up and moved. Our instincts were right — it’s such a special place. And three years later, I still feel a sense of calm when I touch down back in Austin. I’m originally from Tennessee, if you can’t tell; my all denim Khaite look is a nod to Elvis circa Jail House rock 😉

You’re a regular over here at ByGeorge because of your line of work. What has been the most exciting part of your job since moving to town?

One favorite thing is definitely working with the assortment you guys pull together at ByGeorge. There’s always such a nice range of goods in both stores. Another is working in such a collaborative town. There is a huge amount of creative talent here, and so many of those folks are up for making things just for fun. I’ve made some of my favorite work here, with this community, usually based on an idea one of us has just had to get out into the world. I’ve found people I work with on a strangely-telepathic level. My friend Cecilia Alejandra and I shot for the first time in a long time the other day and were still finishing each other’s sentences on set. 

Cherry on Top is one of the big projects you’ve had a hand in here in Austin. Mind telling us a little bit about it and how to get involved?  

Of course! Cherry On Top is a pop up community I host with my friends in the desert. We’re a group of multidisciplinary creatives in several cities who work together to host a bit creative love fest each year. We’ve done it in Marfa so far but are looking for our next destination for this year’s event now. We pick a long weekend and pack it with programming centered around a theme. The first one was female empowerment, last years was focused on self-care, and 2019’s topic is under wraps until we officially announce it. There are a ton of ways to get involved. There’s a vendor market for small businesses to sell their goods, we have workshops designed to platform people’s skills, we incorporate live music wherever possible, there’s a mini film fest to submit to, we put together a zine, and more…But really: our group (the “Cherry Cult” 🙂 works to create a really open and collaborative vibe, so just showing up is getting involvement enough!

Favorite spot to hang out in Austin: (top three if you can’t choose!) 

Too many too choose from! I’m cheating a little bit…

Current: Last Straw for good vibes and cute drinks. 

Classics: Deep Eddy Cabaret after a dip in the pool, Justine’s to split the bolognaise and a bottle of wine and to run into friends. 

Constants: My neighborhood spots — June’s for breakfast, Mañana for coffee, and Joann’s for happy hour or lunch. 

Love the looks you put together – definitely some of my favorite brands here at BG. When you’re pulling for shoots, what brands do you head to first? What about for yourself?

For shoots it all depends on the story, and I guess I could say that about my personal styling sensibility too — I style and dress based on a mood I want to portray, and a feeling I want to evoke in the audience. I tend to gravitate toward brands with pieces that really pack a punch individually, so that together they make for a deceptively uncomplicated equation. I love Sies Marjan for quiet originality, Balenciaga for shape, Proenza Schouler for architecture, Rosie Assoulin for volume. Dries Van Noten for pattern… Ganni’s prints always feel special, without being too challenging to actually wear — I get a ton of use out of my personal pieces of theirs. I love the editorial quality of Vada Jewelry; none of their pieces are too small to be lost in a shot. 

Describe your personal style + tell me how it’s changed since moving to Texas.  

I was asked this by a new friend just the other day and was actually sort of stumped. Isn’t it always hardest to describe your own style? But I’ve been ruminating on it ever since and I think I have the answer: “Simple, But Significant” (to borrow from Don Draper’s drink order) or maybe “Less, But Louder”  — it’s a minimal number of pieces, but each with its own importance. Like shapely Dries Van Noten pants with a puff-sleeve Rosie Assoulin top and a pair of pointed The Row flats in white. Each piece speaks for itself, with none playing “second fiddle” to the others. But for jewelry, I keep it pretty consistent. I rarely wear jewelry other than that which I never take off (my wedding ring and Vada everything else). 

I think my style has changed a lot since moving actually. I don’t know if it was moving to a new city or going freelance and having to really rely on myself, or the confidence you gain with age and experience, or suddenly being in such a bright, sunny, social place, but I notice myself feeling good about standing out in a crowd now, even aiming for it. There are a lot of style tribes in New York, and I was always trying to fit into those, to blend in. I definitely wear more color and pattern now. And I also generally just wear more of my clothes—I used to sort of hoard my favorite investment pieces, being too afraid to mess them up to get much wear out of them. Wear your things!