Portland Fashion Week concluded on Sunday, October 12, leaving in its wake questions about what the relationship is, and should be, between fashion and entertainment. At the official Portland Fashion Week (PFW), where the audience was invited into the "fashion theater" nightly, clothing was presented alongside supplementary entertainment, on opening night when a high school dance troupe took to the runway. It's all well and good, I suppose—but if you were in it for the clothes, you may not have had the easiest time of it last week.
The PFW runway was, as is typical of such events, host to collections of varying quality, and altogether too much jersey. Newcomer May Tee and the reliably good IDOM line were safe bets on the taste factor, and Icebreaker, Nike, and Sameunderneath held pleasant surprises, but mediocrity reigned over much of the week's events, and was lacking the jaw-dropping moments of last year's fashion week (Leanne Marshall's fabulous organic/alien shapes, the Collections designer night) that had the press sitting up and paying attention. That air of excitement and possibility was notably deflated this year, in part because after more or less uniting the local industry, once again PFW saw a dispersal of talent, with many of the events happening outside of its purview actually showcasing the best of Portland fashion. Altogether, there was a sense of lost momentum.
Outside the fashion theater, designers showed their lines informally. Adam Arnold invited people for champagne, cake, and a chance try on his latest pieces, but the crowd was so thick that it was a competitive endeavor to actually reach the garments, which included the ultimate Portland must-have: a black unisex waterproof cycling jumpsuit with plenty of pockets, a hood, and a wrapping face guard. So, so necessary.
RunAway, featuring the work of six designers, plus live music, DJs, and film projections, was completely off the hook, the Someday Lounge's at-capacity walls bulging with excited attendees who bounced along as models shared the stage with the enthusiastic musicians. It was a great time, but again difficult to get a good view of the clothing. The leather and feather belts Gretchen Jones whipped up for her MOTHLOVE line were completely badass from across the room, but I'm dying to see them up close. Julia Blackburn's Dust line of texturally rich magpie-gypsy looks also demanded closer inspection.
Those who attended the church & state show Saturday evening came away enraptured with Rachel Turk and Nathaniel Crissman's reinvented Americana aesthetic, which featured high waists, easy dresses, and rompers.See and read more about all the week's events and photos on mod.portlandmercury.com.