We're really pulling up the rear here. In a season of fashion weeks around the globe, Portland's small and relatively novel series of events is one of the last, well behind the grand affairs of Paris, New York, and Milan, and even trailing second-tier cities like Los Angeles. Or rather, one can think of it as a book ending—because we already had one fashion week back in early September, the Collections. With participating designers like Adam Arnold, Elizabeth Dye, and church + state, some of Portland's biggest names on the design front have already come and gone on the improvised, relatively laidback runways (or in some cases, pedestals and motorbikes) that made up the series, with orders in production and samples being sold.
So it seems a bit strange to rally the faithful once again for the increasingly "official" Portland Fashion Week over a month afterward. But until the Portland design community becomes inclined to unify, we will have to accept the separation.
"PFW Productions," the creators of this year's Portland Fashion Week, is comprised of relative newcomers to the local scene, and have been regarded by some with something akin to suspicion. Even I, when approached to be a member of the event's advisory board, was wary of any event calling itself "Portland Fashion Week" that did not include some of our most important designers. (I eventually agreed, and my role as such consisted simply of suggesting local designers who might be interested in participating.) Other whispered rumbles have expressed disapproval out of leeriness towards PFW Productions' Tod Foulk's association with Bikini USA (despite the fact that his arrangement with them eventually fell through). The other members of PFW Productions are Tito Chowdhury, whose other involvements include being a committee member of Portland Art Museum's Young at Art group, and who has produced a number of high-profile events in town, and Chris Cone, another event producer involved in the PALA Fashion Lounge events.
Though they may lack the familiar credibility of the Collections' designers, who elicit an almost familial loyalty, PFW Productions is hardly inexperienced. They have also set their sights high, presenting an event that they hope will launch recognition of Portland design beyond the local level. In doing so, they have made successful contact with city hall, which hosted a fashion show (featuring hot commodity Anna Cohen) and an installment (featuring the work of Adam Arnold) last month. Additionally, Mayor Tom Potter, who will be delivering a speech to commence the first show, has declared Portland Fashion Week an annual civic event. Now it remains to be seen if Portland's fashion audience will show up and pay up—unlike most of the Collections, all events of Portland Fashion Week have a cover price, but expectations are high for the production value of the shows, which are to be held on the fabulous top floor of the US Bancorp tower, AKA "Big Pink," and Chowdhury has proven himself to be particularly adept at event production. The bottom line is that if it gives Portland designers positive exposure, it will be a success.
Portland Fashion Week runs Fri Oct 20-Sun Oct 22 and Wed Oct 25-Fri Oct 27. This Friday features Sofada with Visage Eyewear and Janine Gibbons jewelry; Saturday features Ancient Inc, Heather Bell Jewelry, The Black Fox, DarBeka, Jackie Steiner Originals, Duchess, and Poppi Swim. Sunday features "Urban Influence" with Louise Jeans, Segel Clothing, Naomi Raquel, Sha Montana, and The Elusive Collection. Wednesday is "The Green and Sustainable Design Showcase" with Saffrona, Nora Catherine Jewelry, MEWV, Maiti Nepal, EXIT, and Flood Clothing. Thursday, October 26 is "OSU Fashion Night" with Melissa Ward, Tonja Schreibner, Alaina Shea, Diem Le, Marianne Egan, Morgan Tove, Lenore Semperviren, and Gowns by Laura. Friday, October 27 is the "PFW Finale," with Urban Metallics, Kicklet Kreations, Adriana Couture, Urban Girl NW, Leanimal, DoubleCross Belt Co., Magali Corzo, and Eden Dawn Apparel. All shows on the 43rd floor of the US Bankcorp Tower, 111 SW 5th, 7 pm receptions, 8 pm shows, opening night $20-25, all other nights $10-15. portlandfashionweek.net for more information, including after-parties.Portland saw the passing away of an icon on October 6, when Arthur Cheesman died of lung cancer in his home at the age of 64. Cheesman made a name for himself first with Phantasmagoria, which he founded in 1967, claiming it to be the first vintage shop on the West Coast. He went on to found the Avalon, the vintage store (which will remain operational, at 410 SW Oak) in 1976. In addition to clothing Portlanders, his clientele included famous rockers like Steven Tyler, Rod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz, Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons, Nick Cave, and many more. Cheesman, who reportedly passed with a peaceful expression, dressed in his silk pajamas with his signature Salvador Dalí moustache perfectly groomed, was also known for his portrait drawings of hip young Portlanders.