Austin Icon | Blackmail

Tastemaker Steve Shuck joins the creative team behind an Austin institution.


By nature a boudoir is something of a private place—a place for dressing, for little trinkets, for powders and perfumes, a place with tufted cushions and drawn curtains. Austin boutique Blackmail, while not private by any means, is just that. Washed in easy sunlight and dressed with black leather, bell jars, and antique taxidermy, Blackmail feels as if you’ve somehow stumbled through a time warp into a chic Parisian’s dressing room—except Radiohead is playing over the speakers.

A South Congress staple for more than a dozen years, Blackmail was launched by local designer Gail Chovan and her husband Evan Voyles as a space to highlight Gail’s namesake collection alongside the work of other likeminded designers. Recently, Steve Shuck, of Stag and Mercury Design Studio, joined the team, propelling Blackmail as a “purveyor of the dark and curious,” he says. That is to say, specializing in “fashion and objects that are both dark in color and sensibility.” If you can’t find the perfect black dress here, you won’t find it anywhere.

“Since moving to Austin, I've been a fan of Blackmail,” Shuck says. “The narrowness and focus of the concept intrigued me, and I always discovered something new there. I'm most excited to work with and within the parameters of Blackmail's concept, expanding the product mix while staying true to the tradition of the shop.”

Loyal customers will still find all their Blackmail favorites, but if you haven’t stopped in recently it’s worth another look. On any given afternoon you might stumble across the perfect amber incense nestled up to a taxidermied canary; or a bowl of simple stud and skull earrings; or a piece of hand-embroidered art you never knew you needed (but you do); or a buttery leather jacket; or the perfect letterpress notecard. Work from local designers like Chovan, Alchemy Design, and Sisters of the Black Moon team up with national favorites like Killr Collection jewelry, DL & Co candles, Taschen Books, and John Derian decoupage trays to make a sharply-edited collection of moody gifts, décor, apothecary, and clothing.


Photography by Evan Prince

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