MAYTEE

Portland Fashion Week doesn't officially start until October, but this Friday, September 25, kicks off the first of a series of exciting events on the fall calendar. It's a testament to the number of talented designers that live here that there is almost no overlapping—if you're ready to see what's new in town, you'd better synch up your calendar.

This week brings us FUSE, the first major event to be thrown by the Portland Fashion Synergy (PDXFS) group, which formed last year and has since merged with a project known as China Bound, which last spring brought the work of independent designers to the Henan province of China, where it was shown in a fashion week presentation there. Now developed into the China Business Exchange Initiative, the joint mission includes facilitating student exchanges in design and manufacturing programs, and introducing Portland fashion to the Chinese market, helping to establish the city as a design hub in the international consciousness. How exactly that will play out remains to be seen, but the FUSE event promises to be a vibrant first step.

The first half of the show is dedicated to Portland design, with PDXFS President May Tee, Emily Katz, and the casual menswear line Defyance all showing full new collections. Following that will be a rainwear collaboration mixing references to Portland and China by a clutch of exciting up-and-coming names: Adam Andreas, Hillary Day, Janeane Marie, Barbara Seipp, Emily Sunnell, Christa Taylor, and Heather Treadway.

The second half of the show will showcase visiting designers from China, among them Cathaya, Cui Wei, and Chong Jian, who is reported to be the most famous of the guest designers. Next month, at the gala kickoff to the exhibit China Design Now, which will be at the Portland Art Museum (October 10-January 17), Chong Jian will also be providing eight exclusive looks that will be shown during the cocktail hour, an arrangement also made in partnership with PDXFS.

Tickets to FUSE are not cheap! General admission is $100, with VIP tickets going for $150, but because the event is a benefit, part of the ticket price will be tax deductible, and you know, exclusivity rarely comes for free. (Portland Art Museum's Kridel Grand Ballroom, 1219 SW Park, Fri Sept 25, 7 pm pre-party, 9 pm fashion show, $100-150)

After you've blown your budget on Friday night, Saturday is packed with free shopping events, including a new TOMS fall style launch, trunk shows, and the first anniversary party for E Burnside's Frank James boutique. Hit mod.portlandmercury.com for all the details.