"I'd better not," says Adam Arnold, when I ask if he has anything else to tell me about his spring '07 fashion show. "I go through stages before a show, and I'm going through the PMS stage. There's depression, excitement, paranoia, grieving, an 'I've got the greatest ideas in the world' imperialism.... Maybe it's like having a baby. You start saying things that are really ugly—bitching all day. It doesn't mean anything. I'm just pregnant.
"Such is the stream of Arnold's consciousness, one that has produced a series of apparel collections noted for their fine tailoring and attention to fit, as well as their idiosyncratic inspirations, often listed on the programs at his see-and-be-seen fashion shows. (In recent past these lists have included items like "gold teeth" and "Better Homes and Gardens.")
Of this season's show, Arnold says he is drawing from folk costumes and peasant clothing as well as the underground disco of the '70s (which will score the show)—specifically the "merciless force" of the beats. "And then the voices come in, whispering bad advice," enthuses Arnold. "'Do it.'"
This mood of sinister bacchanalia is reflected in the—I kid you not—list of required viewing before coming to the show: The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), starring Faye Dunaway as a fashion photographer known for her use of violent images, and who begins to see through the eyes of a serial killer; Blue Sunshine (1976), about a group of friends who take acid together, and 10 years later all simultaneously lose their hair and go on a killing rampage; and THX 1138 (1971), George Lucas' first film, which envisions a future in which everyone has a shaved head.... And oh yes, he went there: All of the models appearing in Arnold's show are shaved bald.
"Finding people with shaved heads is one thing, but finding people with a shaved head and who are my sample size is much harder," says Arnold. "It's actually a perfect representation of what I do on a daily basis." Arnold is referring to the bulk of his business, which is custom fitting people of all ages and sizes into the styles from his collections, jeans, suits, or original collaborations between the designer and his clients—although available at places like Seaplane, most of Arnold's clothes are not usually purchased off the rack.
While entertaining, it may be inscrutable how peasantry, dark disco, and baldness become Arnold's experimentation with knot work and macramé, or his examination of blouses—but Arnold's fans don't seem to mind decrypting his mental circulations. It's far simpler to enjoy watching him stretch as an artist, forever re-imagining and perfecting the sacred cow of fit, and forcing himself into realms that historically repulse him, usually in color.
"I hate blue, but not as much as purple," says Adam, referring to his last collection, in which he used the dreaded jewel tone he had always held in disdain, and this collection's modest foray into blue—but only navy blue. (Adam Arnold Spring '07 Collection, Design within Reach, 1200 NW Everett, Fri March 30, 7 pm, free)
Another not-to-be-missed event is the Pinkham Millinery sample sale and spring preview. Dayna Pinkham has a cult following of fashionable hat lovers who worship her creations, which range from smart little felt caps perfect for cycling through town, to outlandish and imaginative artistic works that rarely find use outside of the runway.
At this annual two-day event you'll find at least 20 different shapes marked down 20-50 percent. You'll also get to preview new styles for spring, some of which find fall styles reinterpreted in straw, such as a popular riding cap that Pinkham declares "adorable." There are also "scrap hats," in packable felt or woven straw—hats made by winding long pieces into overlapping spirals down from the crown. Pinkham is also expanding her selection of men's shapes, with a lot of straw fedoras. (Pinkham Millinery, 515 SW Broadway—inside Morgan's Alley, Fri-Sat March 30-31, 11 am-5:30 pm)
Lastly, Mabel & Zora (1468 NE Alberta) is upping the ante on Alberta's last Thursday action with a party to welcome Frock to its new location (1439 NE Alberta). Look for sweets and drinks, as well as a huge sale on items from Hazel, Sweet Pea, Tulle, and more, plus a drawing for a piece of luggage filled with bath products. (Mabel & Zora, 1468 NE Alberta, Thurs March 29, 6-9 pm)
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