FULL DISCLOSURE: For the last several years I've helped put together Content, the fashion installation event that transforms an entire floor of the Ace Hotel into a walk-able library of Portland designers' minds. However! I'm off the hook in 2014, which leaves me free to gush and simply enjoy one of the year's most unique and anticipated events.
Originally founded by a team led by a pre-Project Runway Gretchen Jones, the premise of the event is simple: Each designer/brand is given a hotel room and tasked with creating an environment reflective of their work. It's decidedly not a showroom. You won't just see racks of clothing (though there's a concurrent pop-up shop featuring the designers in the Cleaners). If the past is any indication, you'll see rooms flooded with eyeball pillows, short interactive films, dance parties, murder scenes, nature settings, and more.
Over the years, Content has grown beyond a dedicated focus on brands specific to the apparel and accessory world, gradually pulling in makers of home goods and scents. This year's participants might be the most diverse yet, with the first-time inclusion of a floral company (Fieldwork Flowers); Kayla Mattes, who makes amazing art pieces in addition to jewelry (knitted mini-pizza, anyone?); and the multimedia artist and designer Emily Katz, whose work ranges from apparel to macraméd household items to hang-able embroideries. It's also the first time the event has included a Seattle participant, with Doberman Menswear.
It's a lot to take in; plan accordingly. It will take you longer than you think to get through nearly 30 rooms, to say nothing of the truly excellent people-watching and shoulder-rubbing that happens up and down the hotel hallway. Things tend to get increasingly crowded as the evening wears on, so come early and stay late, and save yourself some time to hit the pop-up shop. Content has a way of inspiring the desire to lay some dollars down on the emerging designs you've just been able to glimpse with far more intimacy than your average retail experience. (My prediction for hot sellers include accessories lines like Primecut and Kiriko.)
The lineup includes some of Content's all-stars, such as Bridge & Burn, Portland Garment Factory, Holly Stalder, Imaginary Authors, Shwood, Draught Dry Goods, Reifhaus, and Duchess Clothier, to name a few. But Content is all about discovery, and newer names on the roster are loaded with intrigue: What will a ridiculously awesome wiener dog-inspired line (yes, really), Bean Goods, come up with, for instance? And Alexa Stark has been steadily impressing with the pieces she slips into the inventory at places like Stand Up Comedy; one gets the sense this won't be her first time around the fine-art track.
There are too many exciting names to mention (the new SIXSEVEN collaboration between Liza Rietz and BOET! WWJJD! Dehen 1920!), which is indicative of the fact that, well, Content can be a little overwhelming—even when you're not working behind the scenes. Content 2014, Ace Hotel, 1022 SW Stark, Sat Oct 18, 5-10 pm, $15-20, all ages
• The Rebel Craft Rumble pits Pacific Northwest crafters against each other in "craft-offs" trying to invent their best creations with random assortments of goods provided by SCRAP. May the best crap-crafter win! Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy, Wed Oct 15, 7 pm, $10
• The annual Modified Style fashion show invites amateurs and pros alike to sew runway looks out of salvaged materials. It results in some pretty wildly creative stuff, and raises dollars for some worthy nonprofits: This year's recipients are p:ear and Community Transitional School. Ambridge Event Center, 1333 NE MLK, Thurs Oct 16, 7 pm, $15-35, all ages
• Mercantile celebrates a new shop within a shop: They are now home to an Amina Rubinacci boutique, purveyor of luxury Italian woolens. Stop in to clink prosecco glasses with reps from the company and warm up the new space. Mercantile, 729 SW Alder, Thurs Oct 16, 3-6 pm
• New neighbors Adorn and Nationale fling open their doors to warm up their new spaces. It's a relocation for Nationale, and a second location for Adorn. Adorn, 3366 SE Division, Thurs Oct 16, 6-10 pm; Nationale, 3360 SE Division, 6-9 pm
• TWIST welcomes Seattle jeweler Jamie Joseph for one of the shop's frequent trunk shows, known for her focus on stones like opals, tourmalines, and moonstones, all cut by her husband. She'll be bringing hundreds of one-of-a-kinds, so go early for the best selection. TWIST, 30 NW 23rd Pl., Sat Oct 18, 11 am-6 pm
• For a limited time, the Mercantile (hello again!) will have an exclusive selection from AG Jeans' fall/resort collections, and are offering $25 off each pair while they're at it. Mercantile, 729 SW Alder, Mon Oct 20-Fri Oct 31, mercantileportland.com for store hours