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Portland Fashion and Style Awards in Review

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LAST WEEKEND'S Portland Fashion and Style Awards (PFSAs) were... something else. Housed at the well-appointed Ainsworth Event Center/Scottish Rite, people were dressed to the hilt, drinking Cerulean wine. There was a Baldwin there.

When the ceremony began, hosts David Palmer (a Hollywood astrologist, TV personality, and DJ... never heard of him) and co-producer Jaileene Eubanks (also Mrs. Oregon International 2012) took the stage with what can only be described as an awkward presentation. Purely from a theatrical perspective it was a trainwreck, and the rest of the evening continued to devolve on their end, with Eubanks periodically disappearing and acting erratically, while Palmer sipped from a can stashed underneath the podium. Intentional or not, it was actually pretty funny! They seemed to be having fun, and I enjoyed it.

As I've noted previously, this second version of the PFSAs is under new management, having been taken over from its founders by Ann Akre, who, along with her husband Steve, sought to reform some of the methods by which the nominees and winners had been formulated last year. Gone were the nominations created entirely by crowdsourcing; this year only one of four finalists in each category was designated the "People's Choice" nominee, and even those were vetted through a detailed set of criteria posted on the PFSA website. Other nominees were generated by a roster of judges, which included local-industry regulars like Alyson Clair of the womenswear line Clair Vintage Inspired, and Sharon Blair of the Portland Sewing school.

The ultimate winners were also chosen by the judges, who seemed, in many cases, to defer to the gravity of the "People's Choice" nomination, as in the night's first award, to Mag-Big for Best Boutique Southeast. (I was particularly happy to see this, since not only does owner Cassie Ridgway run her shop with a passionate commitment to local manufacturing, she's also active in hosting events and helping to generate a dialogue about the future and challenges of the industry—give that woman an award, by all means.)

Ridgway was there to accept her trophy (which is one hell of a glass-blown paperweight, and could easily be used as a murder weapon), but many of the winners were not, and the scattered attendance of the event as a whole is indication that while the methods of the awards have improved, there's still work to do in capturing the attention of much of the city's fashion and style community.

Another tweak for the better: In addition to trophies, winners received gift bags, the star of which is a Lenovo tablet. As a potentially useful tool in a multitude of careers, it's perhaps a step in the right direction as far as getting skeptics on board. I do say "potentially" because I haven't completely figured out how to make mine work yet—oh, that's right, I won for "Best Blogger." It felt a little silly and a little weird to collect my prize, but I had fun. Thanks to the respected judges for that.

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