North Mississippi continues its steady march toward becoming a shopping hub, with new additions streaming in left and right. The kiddies can get their kicks at the new retail space of Black Wagon (3964 N Mississippi), the clothing store for hip tots that's been residing purely on the web (blackwagon.com) up until now. "Cool" and "baby clothes" may sound like an oxymoron, until you see the pink onesie screen printed with a portrait of Debbie Harry by Reckon, or Baby Wit's "Garage Band Shift Dress." And who can deny the hilarity of a little boy wearing Small Paul's "Protect and Serve" T-shirt, printed to look like a cop uniform, complete with a tie and badge? The point is, Black Wagon has the kind of kids' clothes that are amusing even to people who don't have (or want) kids.
Right next door is Phlox (named for the flower, not the character from Star Trek: Enterprise, at 3962 N Mississippi). Opened by Barbara Seipp, a former attorney, it's a definite complement to Portland's already bustling boutique collection. Seipp, in addition to her legal background (and her other degree in engineering!), spent five years as an apprentice to a master seamstress, and has her own eponymous line, which can be found at the store. Using luxurious fabrics, her style is girly but grownup, flattering and not too sassy. In addition to her own pieces, Seipp has the store stocked with a slew of other lines, most of which are unavailable or scarce elsewhere in Portland. Look for Corey Lynn Calter, Tibi, and Josette, three other lines that feature feminine dresses and separates, plus heavenly Ts from Three Dots, and a great line of denim called Big Blue. A rather obscure label out of Los Angeles, Phlox's Big Blue selection includes jeans, skirts, and jackets that practically no one else carries, so be prepared to explain the distinctive, tasteful stitching that serves as the logo. Plus, Phlox carries just a smattering of shoes from Giraudon and Glam Soul, bags from Kim White (made from vintage auto textile dead stock, leather, and more), and woven belts from Linea Pelle. On its way to the store is a selection of Modern Vintage shoes, a more subtle and less expensive offshoot of Roberto Cavalli.
While the racks of Phlox are currently full of attractive merchandise, Seipp is especially excited about the new items coming in, such as a lower-priced, entry-level designer line called Lili Bleu, and—get excited—the awesome Nanushka out of Budapest. Seipp aptly describes Nanushka as "Euro mod meets yoga," with lots of stretchy, fine fabrics in black, gray, and white. Either body skimming or artfully baggy, the pieces are both solid and eccentric, such as pants bagged at the crotch, sumo style. I'm dying to see how Portland's fashion savvy work with it, and applaud Seipp for bringing such a modern, innovative line to the table.
In other news, Amy Burrell, known for the unique, one-of-a-kind skirts she makes as DarBeka, is trying her hand at film wardrobe styling. Thursday marks the premiere of Prescription, a short independent film from the local Open Eye Productions. Described as a "dark romance," Burrell worked with make-up and wardrobe stylist Judy Biesanz to create looks for the female protagonist, Mya (Mckenzie Cowan), using a gradient color scheme to follow the evolving mood of the script, going from a palette of whites and ivories to greens and browns, and finally dark grays and blacks. While some of the clothing featured is vintage, keep an eye out for two dresses that were handmade by Burrell, who says, "The pieces took me on an emotional journey as well. In a strange way the art, color, and facets of construction drew from my own personal experience and paralleled events in my life at the time." Those sound like some heavy design elements. (Thurs Aug 10, Cinemagic, 2021 SE Hawthorne, 7:30 pm, $3)
Finally, excited congratulations go out to Anna Cohen, who headlined last week's "Locally Grown" fashion show at city hall. Days later, on Wednesday, August 9, Cohen made the cover of WWD Paris, spreading word of her designs' marriage of beauty and sustainability across the Atlantic, and with it the awareness of Portland as the most vital locale for that forward-thinking blend.
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