CHURCH & STATE

A BLAST from the past: This week marks a rare opportunity for collectors of independent fashion. If you don't remember Church + State, you are likely at least familiar with Pendleton's the Portland Collection, no? Two-thirds of the design team behind that extremely popular offshoot of the heritage brand are Rachel Turk and Nathaniel Crissman (with John Blasioli), and before they got that gig, they were Church + State.

One could argue about where the modern history of Portland's independent design scene actually starts, but for me it began with Seaplane. That was my—and many others'—first realization that there was anything happening here at all, much less anything cool enough to capture the imagination of national magazines and bands like Sleater-Kinney.

It was through the Seaplane orbit that I first became aware of Church + State and the couple behind it. During a time when much of what was happening in the Portland scene involved a glorious amount of raw edges and de- or re-construction, Church + State stood out as tailored and somewhat modest.

Turk and Crissman have never committed to calling it quits with Church + State, but it's been a couple years since they designed a collection under that name. For fall 2011, their 10th year of designing together, Crissman and Turk produced "Decade," just days after the first Portland Collection had been released. They refer to it as their "lost collection," since it was never shown or promoted (so consuming was the Pendleton pandemonium), though it could be found at several stores, including Frances May.

Since then, they've been sitting on a large collection of first production runs of dresses in a full range of sizes that they're offloading for just $99 per dress (thus the event name "99 Problems but A Dress Ain't One") at a festive sample sale. There will also be a photography show by Portland artist Ashley Sophia Clark, who Crissman refers to as Church & State's unofficial mascot. "I'm pretty sure she has the most Church & State besides us," he says. Church + State sample sale, 727 SE Morrison, Fri Sept 6, 6-9 pm.