Rock 'n' roll and fashion have enjoyed a mutually thieving relationship since the genre of music was born. The world has not lacked for publications and events drawing attention to the symbiosis, but its persistence could well be chalked up to the simple fact that, when done right, there's nothing sexier and more fun. Sweet F.A. is Portland's reigning annual celebration of this fusion, a high energy, scantily clad affair that catapults emerging designers onto the scene in front of an audience that may be as interested in prospective stage costumes as they are in going-out threads. But one has the distinct impression that the majority in attendance are simply there for a good time, shared by the smiling non-model models of tiny proportions and extensive ink that bound down the runway to blasting rock songs, the bands that round out the night's entertainment with live sets, and the air-guitar playing fellows in the audience.
The show this year features many of the same designers who have chosen this platform to show their work before. In total, 11 lines will be showcased: Korina Mae Emmerich, whose tight stripes and velvets last year evoked a young Mick Jagger's style reinterpreted for the girls; Erhart, the punchy streetwear line masterminded by Chelsea Erhart; Flood Clothing, a reconstruction-minded line long familiar in local boutiques; Carolyn Hart, Clair, Diana Pingul, Cano Apparel, Amy Elizabeth Couture, Reif, Alexis Buck, and Adam Andreas.
This last mention is perhaps the most intriguing, as Andreas is a new addition to the Sweet F.A. scene, last witnessed dropping jaws with his brief contribution to the Art Institute of Portland's showcase during the most recent Portland Fashion Week in early fall of last year. There, Andreas impressed the crowd with an authentically innovative take on menswear, although he describes the forthcoming collection (of three looks each for men and women) as more experimental than anything he's done previously. His scattered description begins with a glam rock theme rendered in a black and gold palette of leather, silk, and wool, much of which he salvaged from coats and handbags rescued from the Goodwill bins. For women he promises sheaths and shifts, for men slim trousers and jackets with exaggerated sleeves and collars, even a blouse. Andreas is one to watch for sure, in hopes perhaps that he might join the city's scant native designers who excel in menswear, Adam Arnold and John Blasioli being the most prominent.
Beyond fashion, Sweet F.A. will also showcase sets from local bands New York Rifles and Welcome Home Walker, Disc Jockey Gregarious, and visual art by Nathan and Noah Rice. For the time being, at least, it seems it's still true what they say about rock 'n' roll being here to stay. (Fez Ballroom, 316 SW 11th, Sat Feb 21, 9 pm, $10-12)