Adam Arnold has never been one to conform. The designer, one of Portland's feistiest, is known and loved for his eccentric contrarianism. So on the surface it's unsurprising that for his fall collection, he is breaking with local custom and staging a small, by-invitation-only presentation in his studio. This, during the year in which Portland's design community has come together to present itself to the industry at large at next month's Portland Fashion Week as a united front.
One of the better-known and respected designers in town, it would be nice to see Arnold represented among his colleagues (although, ever mischievous, he hints at a possible "crashing" of the proceedings). However, for the time being, Arnold has other, more intimate plans. Far from intending to be snobbish, the primary motive for this private showing is to give his clients, the press, and other inspiring "freaky friend" characters the gift of being first to see his clothes, as an act of appreciation.
If you're reading this and you've yet to receive your invite, it's not coming. Which is still no reason to be left out. If anything, it should be a motivation to introduce yourself. "All of the clothing will be here [in the studio]," says Arnold, "and there's a number on the door." Which is to say that he's thinking of his show as a client appointment—just with 75 or so clients at once. And if you're not already on the list, the door is wide open to rectify that.
Anyone who's visited the atelier is familiar with Arnold's friendly, chatty vibe, and he values the personal experience of his work, which focuses heavily on custom fit and tailoring. For this reason, he is foregoing a traditional runway show, using only two models, who will show the pieces as he speaks informally to the audience about them. This is especially exciting given the unusual influences Adam routinely cites, and the fascinating ways they wind themselves into the designs—best narrated by the artist himself.
This season, Arnold's primary muse has been the geodesic dome, leading him to concentrate on creating sculptural forms from a collection of small geometric shapes. The most literally inspired pieces are, as one can imagine, incredibly time consuming, and Arnold says that the pattern pieces for a dress can fit in a standard mailing envelope.
Regardless of this season's self-imposed themes and challenges, quality is always a constant in Arnold's work, and his plan is to present the clothing in a way that makes more sense to him than a big fussy show. Wanting to eliminate the scenester-ism of attendees who care more about getting a free drink than they do about the clothing, Arnold has invited an audience that values the opportunity to both get a better look at the pieces, and to talk to him about the clothing in a meaningful way.
Another unusual move is the inclusion of prices on the program. Given that the majority of attendees will have already commissioned pieces from Arnold in the past, the frankness is simply user-friendly. Additionally, swatches of alternative fabrics will be on hand to customize your order, giving the whole affair an almost tradeshow functionality.
On a more sentimental note, Arnold's also eager to bring together his diverse pool of clients and see how they mix. "Especially as Portland gets bigger and undoubtedly less personable, I think it's nice to maintain the feeling of community, and tying people together," he says. (Adam Arnold Studio, 727 SE Morrison, Fri Sept 28, 7 pm, by invitation; call 234-1376 to make an appointment to see the collection post-show, or at adam-arnold.com)
You don't need an invitation for the Studio Catwalk grand opening show, a rock 'n' roll fantasy hair show extravaganza to celebrate the new Studio Catwalk salon in Milwaukie (13815 SE McLoughlin). Featuring live music (Julian's Ride, Tracy Klas, Sweety, Western Aerial), body painting, and hosted by Freddie Figs of MTV Buzz and Z100's Fanch, it should be quite a production. (Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, Sat Sept 29, 9 pm, $10)
Meanwhile, on the other side of town Souchi (807 NW 23rd) is celebrating their 10-year anniversary. Join them for a party, during which their in-house line of sumptuous cashmere will be 25 percent off the current collection during the event, and 15 percent off for the rest of September. Attendees will also have the opportunity to enter a drawing held December 1 to win a custom sweater. Definitely an opportunity that you won't want to miss. (Thurs Sept 27, 4-8 pm)
What do you need—an engraved invitation?