THE MUSEUM of Contemporary Craft's major exhibit, Fashioning Cascadia, has been on display for nearly a month. It captures much of the contemporary history of regional apparel design and manufacture, along with visiting artists whose aim is to explore the personal relationships we have with our clothing. With so much to delve into, the exhibit's run (it will remain up until October 11) is marked by a series of events, lectures, and workshops. This week alone marks two: a vintage fashion show helmed by AlexSandra's Vintage Emporium, and a daylong symposium on Prototyping Fashion's Futures.
Vintage fashion isn't always an obvious choice for the runway, because it lives outside the cycle of production. But considering Fashioning's interest in clothing with a narrative, its inclusion is wholly appropriate, and the regional focus is punctuated with an emphasis on restored pieces from Pacific Northwest brands like Jantzen and Pendleton.
"Vintage doesn't arrive at our shops in excellent condition," says AlexSandra. "There is a great deal of hand washing, repair, restoration, and restyling work, and for me personally, the collecting of stories from original owners and their families. This business forces you to deal with the concept of mortality, and I have found that once you're gone, the only things that are left are the stories of where you went and what you did. We preserve the history of Portland, and I try to use my artistic skills as much as possible in keeping these relics alive."
While the show—which also combines comedy courtesy of the "natural humorous rapport" between AlexSandra and performer Tony Starlight—pays respect to the past, Saturday's symposium is resolutely dedicated to the future. There'll be opening remarks by First Lady of Portland Nancy Hales, keynote addresses by Pendleton's Gretchen Jones and Swedish artist Otto von Busch, and a panel of industry insiders—designers Elizabeth Dye and Seattle-based Prairie Underground's Davora Lindner, Makers Coalition Chair Jennifer Guarino, and Portland Garment Factory's Britt Howard and Rosemary Robinson. The whole idea is to create a think tank environment centered on the idea of Portland as an incubator for the "slow fashion" movement.
Portland fashion's potential as an economic driver and cultural attraction has been a popular subject of late, though this is certainly not the first time it's been a topic of public discourse. Groundbreaking solutions may be slow to come by, but the more conversations we have about the options for fashion as a functional local business model, the closer we get to actualizing them. Vintage Fashion Runway Show, The Plant, 939 SE Alder, Fri May 30, 7 pm, $20; Prototyping Fashion's Futures, Museum of Contemporary Craft, 724 NW Davis, Sat May 31, 9 am, $15-30
• The brilliantly curated, masculine-driven Boys Fort is celebrating the one-year anniversary of their downtown location with a full weekend of art, giveaways, and a reading by Tom Spanbauer from his latest, I Loved You More. Boys Fort, 902 SW Morrison, Jane Terzis art opening on Fri May 30, 5-8 pm; each purchase enters you into a giveaway drawing on Sat May 31; reading on Sun June 1, 1-4 pm
• Schoolhouse Electric and Egg Press are teaming up for another of their semi-regular sample sales. Look for lighting and furniture, while letterpress cards are just a buck each through the weekend. Schoolhouse Electric, 2181 NW Nicolai, Fri May 30 & Sat May 31, 10 am-6 pm, Sun June 1, 11 am-4 pm
• Colette Patterns just released The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits with Clair Vintage Inspired designer Alyson Clair, and it's their fifth anniversary, so clearly a party is in order. Get your book signed, plus fabric recommendations and other knitwear advice, refreshments, and an after-party. Modern Domestic, 1408 NE Alberta, Sat May 31, 5-7 pm; afterparty at Radio Room's upstairs patio, 1101 NE Alberta, 7 pm, 21+