I have to admit I didn’t catch any of the shows at last year’s installment of FashioNXT, so as I arrived on Friday night at the Shipyards I was filled with anticipation of what was in store. The familiar scene (I was an intern to producer Tito Chowdury in 2009) had seen some definite jazzing up. From an extravagant bar to thumping music, and stalls for vendors to sell their goods, FashioNXT has certainly grown. Observing the scene one could note that for a fashion show, the attendees had quite a mixed bag of styles, everything from little girls with their Moms, to clubby girls in giant stilettos, and nearly everything in between. As seating started we all packed into the main event, and waited for the show to get going.
First up, and my hands down favorite of the evening was the first-ever spring collection by The Pendleton Portland Collection. Since it’s first season in 2011, the Portland Collection has won the hearts of the fashion set all around the globe. The spring collection was full of clean lines, notes of nautical, and stripes that felt fresh yet still signature Portland Collection. My favorite look was the light blue co’ord piece with matching reversible bomber jacket (seen below). I absolutely must have this in my closet come spring. The men’s looks were also hit a high note, from smart cardigans to perfectly tailored jackets, any guy would be nailing it in TPC. I was especially fond of the varsity jacket and sporty luxe bombers for both men and women. It’s undeniable designers Rachel Turk, Nathaniel Crissman, and John Blasioli have an incredible aesthetic with the ability to make each of their individual talents shine through.
Next was Stephanie D Couture. This collection was full of peplums, sheer high to low bits, and lots of lace. To me, the fabric choice was a bit questionable, and the collection lacked a common thread. The highlight piece for me was a form fitting white lace mini dress with a sweetheart neckline, which would make the perfect addition to your closet and could be worn both for holiday, and the summer months.
Third to the runway was South Dakota designer Lenzanita, whose has shown with FashioNXT, and Portland Fashion Week for the past four years. Her collection was full of the color of the season, mustard. The color palette also included purple, royal blue, as well as pops of red and purple; there was certainly a lot of color on the runway. Showcasing both men’s and women’s looks, Lenzanita went full force with color, leather, prints, and lots of sheer. The men’s looks left a lot to be desired, which left me with vague memories of Jim Carrey’s costumes from the film ‘The Mask’ However, the ladies pieces did have some interesting separates. The standout piece was a perforated leather shift dress done in multiple color ways, my favorite being variation done in mustard color, which opened the show.
Next up was Ethos Paris who has shown in years past as well. The most interesting part of the show was the wild flower and foliage head pieces. I don’t know what really warrants a runway show that features basic black leggings, simple dresses, and tee-shirts, but hey maybe that’s just me. (Not to mention that the black leggings where completely sheer and you could 100% see right thru them) On a positive note, all the fabric and materials that Ethos Paris uses are organic and Fair Trade. The showstopper for me was a lovely black jumpsuit with a slim silhouette, which could easily rotate into your wardrobe as a nice alternative to the LBD.
The finale show was Michelle Lesniak fresh off her win from Project Runway season 11, Michelle began her show with short address to the crowd with her HP tablet (maybe this was a contractual agreement with PR sponsor HP?) Anyway, after a brief word about that, the live violinist began and the scene was set. Her collection titled ‘Decay For Me’ was stunning. Lesniak’s hair and make-up were my favorite of the evening, with blunt black bangs, black lipstick, and a bare face. The collection told a story from start to finish and was edited to the perfect amount of looks. The play on texture and silhouette was something we’ve seen Lesniak shine at from her time on Project Runway, but tonight’s show really elevated her aesthetic to the next level. Rich velvets, delicate breezy fabrics with tough prints played nicely against one another. A hint of Baroque, a dash of early 2000’s Galliano, and a whole lot of unmistakable Lesniak signature touches made this collection standout. The smart tailoring and detailed construction of each garment was apparent, whilst each model seemingly glided down the runway. The gorgeous glimmery brown velvet gown was the showstopper for me. But the entire collection was gorgeous I am excited to see what’s next for Lesniak, as this collection left me wanting more.