Last week/weekend's FASHIONxt runway events were the new version of Portland Fashion week, with a new emphasis on personal technology products. But, although the tech participants seemed pleased with the exposure, they were sequestered to booths outside the runway, catching people as they buzzed through during cocktail hour. It would, eventually, be fun (or terrible) to see more integration between the two, but hey, it's the first time. Otherwise the experience was almost identical to the PFWs of the past: Same shipyard warehouse, same glossy production.
With the re-brand, however, they abandoned some of the old PFW traditions, most notably the Catapult emerging designer competition, which brought little-known designers from the area a ton of exposure (the relatively paltry number of local designers who showed included a number of past participants), and took on a whole lot more small screen faces from Project Runway. Given those factors it was a lineup that made everyone feel a bit funny, perhaps even to a greater extent that PFW normally does. For what it's worth TIME magazine devoted a full page to non-New York American fashion weeks, putting Portland's version at the top of the list along with a full-page photo from last year's event. And as tacky as Project Runway is, the recovering contestants in general brought a strong caliber of design to the shows, though being marketed in association with the TV brand has proven by and large to be a somewhat unshakeable curse. As always, there were some missteps, and haters who gonna hate, as they say, but whatever this two-headed bastard child monster of Portland fashion has become, it was better than the hollowness of last year, when I seriously questioned whether the event would live on. Now, there is no question.