Feb 20 2012

photoLike clothes? Like supporting Portland's finest designers? Like music, beer, and a fashion scene that's fun but not snotty? Then you'll dig the Fade to Light Fashion show at the Crystal on Wednesday, February 29.

We'll be honest: When we first heard about this show, we weren't quite sure what the deal was. A fashion show's a fashion show, right? You know: Clothes. Runway. Models. Repeat until the drinking can start.

But Fade to Light...well, it's much more than that. For one thing, DJ Gregarious will be holding down the musical fort, along with Brainstorm* and that, friends, equals fun. But more important, event producer Elizabeth Mollo promises it will bust the boundaries of your usual fashion show, in some very creative ways. We chatted with Mollo on the phone today to get her thoughts on things.

JW: Your press stuff says that you aim for this to be more than a fashion show, that you want it to be "an experience." Could you expand on that?

EM: Fashions shows in New York are usually more grand --they just have so much more money to spend, but in Portland they're usually pretty straightforward. So I'm trying to marry a fashion show with a rock 'n' roll show, trying to make it fun for the viewer because sometimes fashion shows can be a little boring. The music will be a big part of it, and also the lighting and some designers have special choreography. There will be some other surprises, but I don't want to give too much away.

Can you tell me about some of the designers who are participating?

There's Studio SKB, it's been around for a while. The designer and founder of Studio SKB, Sharon Blair, runs Portland Sewing. Bryce Black was one previous season of project runway, and he's a recent Art Institute grad.

Chicago Harper is Studio SKB's menswear line. [Designer] Joshua Buck was just a contestant in Portland Fashion Week's Emerging Designer contest. He didn't win, but he received an honorable mention for innovation.

Ms. Wood won the Portland Fashion Week Emerging Designer award two years ago. Her stuff is amazing, kimono sleeves, amazing leather accessories and wood platform shoes.

Clair Vintage is exactly what her name says. Her designs are vintage-inspired, easily worn, and made for women of all shapes and sizes.

Solestruck shoes are based out of Portland and they're huge. They're known internationally and sell all sorts of crazy shoes. Their flagship store is in the "black box" building next to the Crystal Ballroom.

What's the Portland fashion scene like in comparison to, say, New York, London, Paris, etc? What's Portland like in terms of following or not following what's hot for a particular season?

Some Portland designers don't follow trends as much. I think a lot of them design with the Portland person in mind. But they're all so different. I think the designers in this show are designing with their own aesthetic in mind and considering the trends somewhat, but with their own aesthetic added.

How would you describe the Portland fashion scene? How does the outside world see it?

I think it's on the rise. Especially with all the Project Runway winners who have come out of Portland. It's just hard for people in Portland to make it -there's not enough money here like in New York. Most designers here have day jobs.

The quality of garments produced here is a lot better than a few years ago. It was kind of rinky-dink, but there are starting to be more high fashion-oriented people.

*"Two people build drums, guitar, keys, handclaps, headset mics and tuba into a deafening wall of joyous jams. A brand new band with unbelievable potential"...so sayeth J & B Mees, in NYLON Magazine

 

About the author: Jonanna Widner, McMenamins Music Marketing Assistant, is a former music editor for the Santa Fe Reporter and the Dallas Observer.
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#1 Rene

Unfortunately Portland doesn't have an elite designer base or any good ongoing fashion events to showcase what we do have. This sounds like fun though there's a number of promoters that do fashion shows at bars here and there around town that are pretty blah and obviously put on for bar managers to have something different to do but I hope this one will be little different. Good luck!

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