LAST WEEKEND I GOT my hair cut, got my nails did, and spent a good couple of hours detoxing in the spacious white refuge of Löyly Sauna. Other than the fact that I didn't quite make it to the dry cleaners, I think I'm pretty much ready for the onslaught of fashion that's about to hit this town—are you?
With its inaugural night kicking things off well after press time on the evening of Wednesday, October 7, by the time this issue hits the streets Portland Fashion Week will be in full swing. This is the third year of the event in its more or less present form (by which I mean since it went Big), and it is marked by a return to the shipyards of Swan Island as a venue. This proved a dramatic and excitingly offbeat locale in 2007, although it was met with criticism for being so far off the grid—you can ride your bike there, but it's dark and unfamiliar territory for most. (Although isn't this really about not wanting to appear overly sweaty and disheveled at the pre-party, always so full of those mysteriously moneyed and well-groomed people you never run into anywhere else?) Nonetheless, the bike accessibility is proven with "Ready to Roll," a matinee show of bike-friendly attire pooled from nearly 30 design firms—including big-name brands like Patagonia, Icebreaker, Simple, and (shudder) John Fluevog—taking place on Saturday afternoon, October 10, from which attendees are encouraged to bike en masse from the fashion show to the afterparty.
Another new development this year is the inclusion of an Emerging Designer Showcase competition (full disclosure: I served on the submission panel), where a select number of designers are showing smaller collections for a discounted rate, in order to facilitate the inclusion of those in the process of transitioning in their careers. The audience at Thursday night's (October 8) presentation will have the opportunity to weigh in on a diverse crop of designers doing everything from wedding gowns to painstakingly detailed art-piece corsets.
Outside of Portland Fashion Week, there are two not-to-miss shows coinciding (but thankfully not conflicting) with the main event. The first is "The Procession," a collaborative presentation by Dayna Pinkham's Pinkham Millinery, who is creating showpiece hats to complement ensembles from some of Portland's most wildly creative and seminal apparel designers. To up the drama, the location of the Friday, October 9, show is top secret—only those who RSVP will learn where the show takes place. (I've been reassured that it will conclude in plenty of time for those of us so inclined to make it out to the Island for Friday's installment of Fashion Week as well.)
The second event is a presentation of fall/winter collections from Liza Rietz, Emily Ryan, and Modi Soondarotok's Idom line, as well as a retrospective of work by costumer and designer Fuchsia Lin, called "Fashion Collective" on Monday, October 12. Lin's inclusion is particularly exciting, given that her fashion design has rarely been seen in Portland, and together the quartet of designers comprise a group of particularly modern and sculpturally innovative talents. The fact that they are showing fall/winter designs seems like a comfort after a blast of forward-thinking spring shows, too—the cozy familiarity of the here and now? Perhaps, were it not for the propensity of these artists to produce work that's well ahead of present-day convention.
Beginning with last month's FUSE runway show, which combined fine showings from Portland designers with the work of visiting Chinese artists—part of a bourgeoning international partnership still in formation—and extending into next week's far-reaching Content installation show at the Ace Hotel (see next week's Mercury for much more on that), this season in Portland fashion is long and varied, with Fashion Week merely the nexus of a great swath of activity. The Mercury will be covering it all, with photos and reviews in this space and at mod.portlandmercury.com, in addition to a steady diet of shopping news, gossip, and more—'til then, I'll see you at the shows.