THE LATEST import to the Museum of Contemporary Craft's Fashioning Cascadia exhibit is Adrienne Antonson. A Southerner who's spent time in Washington (on an alpaca farm!) and is currently based in New York, Antonson is among a wave of apparel artist-designers who are increasingly breaking away from the strictures of convention.
Know for her (uh-may-zing) sculptures of insects made from human hair as well as the clothing line STATE, Antonson will present an artist's talk during her museum residency, where she'll be "deconstructing and reconstructing everything I need to wear while at MoCC—clothes, shoes, accessories, etc... much of my work focuses on creative constraints and traceable material sources."
As STATE grows, Antonson's begun incorporating more new material that meets her environmental standards ("If I'm bringing new objects into the world, I want them to be an improvement"), but her apparel roots are in the deconstruction and reconstruction of old garments—something she's popularized particularly in the form of smocks (perhaps proving fashion's unpredictability, smocks are trending hard right now). Limited quantities of fabric make it difficult to fulfill seasonal orders in the typical retail sense, but Antonson says, "The stores we work [with] understand the material origin and subsequent variety. Since we do such a tiny amount of wholesale, we're able to be unique and offer products when we have them... The typical fashion calendar has never clicked with me; I much prefer the rhythm of online, direct-to-customer sales."
If the interest in reuse, sustainability, and unique sales strategies that conform to the work (and not the only way around) sounds familiar, it's because these are the sorts of things our own independent designers have been saying and doing for years—arguably to their financial detriment. It's a fresh, appealing approach that appears to be catching hold. Moreover, it's new, and newness is fashion's clarion call. Artist talk, Museum of Contemporary Craft, 724 NW Davis, Thurs July 31, 6:30 pm, free
Another import of interest this week is the Urban Air Market, a long-established pop-up shopping and music event in San Francisco that's making its first foray into Portland. In addition to bringing up some of its Bay Area vendors, it's tapped some of Portland's finest, including Liza Rietz, Sticks & Stones, and BOET. The Market has an emphasis on sustainable practices, and combines small-business shopping with visual art, live music, a beer garden, and food vendors in a two-day event that, if successful, could become a staple on the Portland calendar. Zidell Yards, 3121 SW Moody, Sat Aug 2 & Sun Aug 3, 11 am-6 pm, free, urbanairmarket.com
Meanwhile, it's the annual Style in the Pearl, with two days of runway shows and shopping from some of the city's better-heeled shops like Vintalier, Mabel and Zora, Parallel, and Physical Element. Really Big Video, 525 NW 10th, Fri Aug 1 & Sat Aug 2, 8 pm, $25, all ages
THIS WEEK'S STYLE EVENTS
• Indie Ella is launching a brand new bag collection, and with it? A party. Look for sale prices on the new totes, as well as the Indie Ella and Ginger Lamb lines of apparel. Indie Ella, 333 NE Hancock Suite #2, Thurs July 31, 5-9 pm
• The August edition of Wanderlust Vintage's "Window Dressing" series kicks off this First Friday, featuring crafter/blogger the Paper Mama, whose window design will remain up at the shop throughout the month. Come for the first look, first dibs on limited edition merch, and refreshments. Wanderlust Vintage, 2804 SE Ankeny, Fri August 1, 5-9 pm
• Every neighborhood takes its turn in the summertime, and this week is Fremont Fest, where, in addition to other brands of mayhem in the street, Adorn will have a clearance tent with markdowns up to 70 percent off, plus a photobooth, face painting for the kids, and more. Adorn, 4120 NE Fremont, Sat August 2, 10 am-6 pm