Photos aren't the only thing to process after a show like FashioNXT, which is evolving into something truly unique. I have to say I missed the drama of the shipyards this year, but I sure preferred the convenient commute to the tent at NW 9th & Northrup. FashioNXT has always had the most legit polish to their presentations, though, and that consistency was maintained. And since they had to go with port-o-potties, at least they sprung for the nicer ones.

Oh, but let's not dwell on that. From what I personally witnessed, this may have been FashioNXT's most impressive year yet overall. \Night two of the run featured a number of contests, including the Wearable Technology Fashion Competition. A crazy-sounding light-up performance jumpsuit won, but we didn't actually get to see it on the runway, which was kind of a bummer. Instead the runway was dominated by contestants in the Up/NXT Emerging Designers Contest (of which I was a judge).

But first, the runway kicked off with last year's competition-winner Amy Sim, who has partnered with Wendy Matthews, a designer with a ballet background, on a bridal line call Grace Mariee. It had plenty of commercial appeal, with a wide variety of bridal personalities represented. It's hard to put a stamp on something like a bridal line, but I'll be interested to see where they end up gravitating. Toward the customer who goes for a caged bodice? Or to the demure tea-length set?

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The bridal theme continued with Stephanie D. Couture, a well established local source for wedding and formal. One gets the sense that she has her methods down and knows her customers, but I attune more to bolder moments, like and all-lace sheer long-sleeved number and colors that stray outside the wedding bubble, like black and crimson.

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Then the drama kicked way up with Sonia Kasparian, who's been making a big push this year on Portland runways—I believe this was my fourth time seeing her in 2014! She's differentiating from her Urchin Redesign title, and experimenting with new materials. That said, her process and aesthetic still hews closer to that of a lot of the Seaplane-era designers like Claire La Faye and Kate Towers here, which I love to see represented among collections that are more easily scalable. Plus, the amount of hand work and imagination she consistently delivers is making it hard for me to avoid a dorky term like "eco-couture."

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Atiz is a line by Swati Padmaraj, a designer originally from Mumbai. This collection was scattered, veering from splashy, bright prints to gauzy taupes, which makes for uneven storytelling on a runway, but the clothing looked well constructed and I could easily see the viability of most pieces in a realistic wardrobe.

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At this point the evening moved on to the emerging designers contest. Spoiler! The first out was the winner, Myriam Marcela. My decision on this was pretty immediate. It was a tightly executed collection that fit a lot of ideas into a relatively small number of looks while maintaining a progression, a nice mix of instant appeal and gentle experimentation, and I always appreciate when a designer makes me reconsider a print (that green floral!) I would never have thought could work.

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This would be my personal, most-likely-to-buy/wear pick of the night, BTW.
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  • This would be my personal, most-likely-to-buy/wear pick of the night, BTW.

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We've seen Wendy Ohlendorf's Magenta line before here, and her love of rich textiles and fearless ideas often really speak to me, but the styling her was a weak point for me.

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Similarly, Olive Clothier by Cyndi Koon indicated a lot of interesting ideas and certainly a fair number of easily wearable pieces, though one would be hard-pressed to know where to wear one or two of them. Still, a very strong contender.

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