TIME TO GO hunting for spring chickens: The annual Fashion Forward graduate show is back! Helmed by Portland Sewing owner and founder Sharon Blair, the Fashion Forward program was developed to give emerging designers tools they need to approach a career in the industry—not just by virtue of technical know-how, but by honing their business plan, targeting their demographic, and understanding ways in which they can market themselves accordingly. Their final project is the debut of a collection at the annual runway show, where fans of local design can get a first look at some of the freshest names on the local market.
Advance hints of these collections tend toward a pleasing diversity, with each of the seven graduates striking different notes: Jessica Caldwell's (who, full disclosure, is also an occasional contributor to the Mercury's MOD blog) "Machine" is all tough-girl angles, women's streetwear which she describes as "attitude infused." Stephanie Hutton has already begun cutting her chops on the show circuit through her work under Blair's SKPDX umbrella, which we caught a glimpse of at the most recent Fade to Light fashion show—a junior-focused collection of LBDs with gray and fuchsia paneling.
Other sources of intrigue include a collection from Jessica Van Hulle, who comes with a background in science fiction/fantasy illustration; George Fox University graduate Rachael Cruthirds, whose last project was a line of infant-wear made using recycled fabrics; and collections named such provocative things as "Perilous Activity," "Copper Union," and "Whiskey Ginger." Headlining the evening, as has become tradition, is former graduate Lisa Silveira's "Wandering Muse," a travel-minded line of convertible apparel that's also become a regular feature at the semi-annual Fade to Light. Fashion Forward, Refuge PDX, 116 SE Yamhill, Sat, April 12, 8 pm, $25-30
Elsewhere, other new collections are coming out to play: Fans of Church + State—which took a bit of a hiatus when designers Rachel Turk and Nathaniel Crissman turned their attention to co-designing Pendleton's Portland Collection along with John Blasioli—has re-emerged with a brand-new capsule collection in collaboration with Portland boutique Frances May. While no formal presentation has been announced for the line, the pieces are currently available in-shop and at francesmay.com. Frances May, 1013 SW Washington
Meanwhile, eastside boutique Una is hosting the debut of a line from Rachel Ancliffe, who you may recall as one of the past participants in the downtown holiday retail pop-up program. Now presenting the Ancliffe Collection, look for sexy separates in eye-catching tie-dyes, neutrals, and vivid blues. The Ancliffe Collection launch, Una, 922 SE Ankeny, Thurs April 10, 5-8 pm