A BROKEN SPOKE

Perhaps you've already ventured out to 2305 NW Savier, where Liza Rietz set up shop at July's end with her eponymous line of modern womenswear. If so, you probably know that the studio/storefront was never intended to be a solitary venture. This Friday marks the grand opening of Liza Rietz and a broken spoke, as completed by the addition of a broken spoke's creator and cofounder of the space, John Blasioli.

While Rietz has already had something of a grand opening, the work of Blasioli, one of the precious few designers doing quality menswear design, demands another fête. While most locally produced menswear carries the ultra-casual hallmarks of screenprinting or hoodie embellishment, Blasioli—much like his former mentor, Adam Arnold—has something of a "dressed-up casual" vision, encouraging men to embrace tailoring beyond the proverbial Sunday Best. To that end, his pieces serve as proof that spiffing up doesn't have to be that hard. Blasioli cites Clive Owen's role in Children of Men as an inspiring example of what he means. Here the character is half drunk, amidst the chaos of an apocalypse, and yet with a few basic, well fitting pieces—trench coat, collared shirt, and pants—he still manages to look sharp.

As a designer, Blasioli is always striving to execute cleaner and cleaner lines with subtle intrigue—careful details that make the garments quietly outstanding. Unexpected touches appear on familiar silhouettes, whether they be fastidiously placed buttons on a sweater or the placement of the pockets on an ever-so-slightly asymmetrical jacket. The work demonstrates an understanding of the reluctance, common in men, to draw attention to themselves through adornment. At the cusp of a fall season that has Vogue devoting prime editorial real estate to hand wringing over women's fear/inability to dress up in the face of designers' suddenly mature—even severe—directives, a bit of coaxing seems in order for a complementing masculine show of effort.

Perhaps because Blasioli is young, and West Coast, the efforts that a broken spoke suggests are low pressure. Jackets have become a focus for him, and proof that just one piece can transform a man's wardrobe without any fuss or sacrificing utility.

As for the henhouse, women have been clamoring for more of Blasioli's dabbling in womenswear, and Rietz may be an instrumental influence in that arena (and vice versa), with Blasioli calling collaboration "a very real possibility." (Liza Rietz and a broken spoke grand opening Friday, 2305 NW Savior, 5-8 pm with drinks, food, and a DJ, free)

Man up: marjorie@portlandmercury.com