WE CAN AGREE on one thing: The semi-annual Fade to Light fashion show is a good one. Produced by Elizabeth Mollo (who, full disclosure, is also an occasional Mercury contributor), it evolved out of several earlier iterations that capitalized on the ages-old pairing of fashion with rock 'n' roll. These days, its focus is more visual, with each designer tasked with producing a short film to accompany the debut of their latest collection.
Surprisingly, designers don't balk at the extra work; they relish it. Season after season (Fade to Light also occurs during the winter, usually in February), lineups of often-returning apparel designers seize the opportunity for added communication with their audience—and some pile on additional flourishes in the live setting. (No witness will soon forget the Bryce Black presentation that ended in an insane, clubby dance routine last year.)
Among a steadily crowding calendar of Portland runways, Fade to Light's near-universal popularity is somewhat in contrast to a splintered scene that can be hilariously passive-aggressive on social media fronts. (Troll the right Facebook corners and you'll find conspicuous disses of omission among pointed and unprompted declarations of "support.") But let's leave the gossipy fun of factions-that-doth-protest-too-much for fall, when the publicity-grabbing hubbubs of Portland Fashion Week, Fashionxt, and the Portland Fashion & Style Awards rain down in all their catty glory. It's still summer, after all; let's just chill.
This go-around, I'll be keeping a particular eye on Bad Wolf Clothier, a returning Fade to Light participant who's marked each show with a steadily gaining talent for menswear tailoring. This time designers Devon Burrus and Seth Noles are promising a jacket-focused spring/summer collection inspired by a Mad Men-ish versatility for "the Madison Avenue office and sipping martinis poolside in Palm Springs." Also of particular intrigue: the latest from a reliably dramatic Bryce Black, the technical, laser-cut evolution of Emit, and WWJJD, a collaboration from the modern, boundary pushing sensibilities of Joshua Buck and Jeanne Tunberg. Fade to Light, Wednesday, Aug 20, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, 7 pm, $12-15, all ages
On a slightly tangential note, I've recently begun volunteering as a moderator for an ADX-sponsored series called Lunch Wagon. It's part of a broader program called the Explorers Series that seeks to foster dialogue about the culture and challenges around various types of local manufacturing. It's framed around the "language" of food, and each event—weekly Friday lunches at ADX along with sporadic dinners and brunches at Stargazer Farm in Sandy—features a meal cooked up by Jason Barwikowsky. Something of a Portland culinary hotshot, Barwikowsky's resume includes getting some of the city's favorite spots off the ground (Clyde Common, The Woodsman Tavern), and his menus revolve around food from Stargazer and other area farms.
Guests and topics have ranged, and stray far from the world of fashion—we've heard from electronics inventors, bike builders, packaged-food business incubators, and more—though sometimes parallels and hints of potentially shared solutions have emerged. This week, however, the connection is direct: Britt Howard and Rosemary Robinson of the Portland Garment Factory will be on hand to talk about a business they've created around the production needs of independent apparel designers in the community (and beyond). At a time when eyes are trained on the viability of the city's apparel industry as a potentially significant economic sector (thanks in part to a City Club forum and follow-up steering committee, on which I sit, and a long-running multi-media exhibit, Fashioning Cascadia, still up at the Museum of Contemporary Craft), an understanding of the less-glamorous realities of fashion's business side is as important as ever. (Plus, Jason's making BLTs!) Lunch Wagon w/Portland Garment Factory, ADX, 417 SE 11th, Friday, Aug 22, noon-2 pm, $25, adxportland.com
THIS WEEK’S STYLE EVENTS
• Grayling Jewelry is throwing a party to celebrate the debut of their fall collection (as well as a redesigned e-commerce platform), with Eastside Distilling/RAFT Syrups cocktails to sip on while you try out some jewels. Grayling Jewelry, 3115 NE Sandy, Friday, Aug 22, 5-7 pm
• The converted service station turned shop/café Associated is having its first flea market, with adult bevies and live jazz by Joel Kraft, as well as DJs HWY 7 and REMA REMA. Associated, 4212 N Interstate, Saturday, Aug 23, noon-dusk
• The Ace Hotel is throwing a ice cream social and (Olympic Provisions) hot dog party to raise money for sexual minority youth organization SMYRC, with Stumptown cold brew floats, a cash bar, photo booth, Michael Horwitz portraits, and DJs ROY G BIV and Sappho. The style angle: Raffle prizes include Ace merch from collaborations with Tanner Goods, Billkirk, and Moscot, in addition to Ace stays, Poler swag, and other “top-secret in-the-flesh stuff.” Ace Hotel, 1022 SW Stark, Sunday Aug 24, 4-7 pm raffle, 7-9 pm social
• Nationale/YU intern Matthew Kyba is releasing In Conversations, an intimate look at artists Delaney Allen, Ty Ennis, and Jaik Faulk. The publication debuts at the Nationale gallery/shop, along with “a reproduction of sorts” on the walls. Nationale, 811 E Burnside, Sunday Aug 24, 4-6 pm