The Portland calendar is wacky. Because most of the designers who live and work here have arranged their business so that they're not beholden to the machinations of the greater industry, it's more often than not that a designer will show spring in the spring and fall in the fall. (Portland Fashion Week is the most notable exception, showing spring in October, as per Fashion Week custom.) Because so often sales are direct, there's no pressure to keep up with the Joneses, but at some point a designer must choose where they are headed and what to pursue.
Gretchen Jones of MothLove is trying to get the best of both worlds, straddling the Portland ease of life with ambitions of national success. Her progress is potentially a model for solving some of the roadblocks that lead designers to feel like they have no option but to leave Portland or stagnate. "Stepping into the wholesale market (and national sales schedule/machine) has been extremely challenging and (I hate to say it) 'real,'" says Jones. "Living within a community that is creative, affordable, and accessible is a necessity as I transition. However, these pursuits have made me realize that even though my goals point outside the city limits of Portland, I am who I am and have had the chance to grow and mature because of Portland."
As a way to help resolve the calendar discrepancy, at least, Jones is presenting two collections at a presentation on Friday, Harvest Moon (spring) and Rose of Cimarron (fall). The spring pieces will be available at Frances May (1013 SW Washington) and on mothlove.com, while the fall pieces are being sent off to showrooms, and are only available by direct order. Jones explains the arrangement:
"Each collection now departs Portland long before local retailers will receive their orders, and it's important to me to have the opportunity to share my creations with the community I live in... which grounds me. Any designer has the desire to be received well by their peers, and I'm eager to show because I want my community to stay connected to my endeavors and vice versa." (w/White Hinterland, DJ Hanukkah Miracle, video by Leif Peterson; The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel, 403 SW 10th, Fri March 5, 7 pm, $5)
Across the river later that night is the second installment of Sarah Gottesdiener and Jenny Hoyston's Art Party. This month is the fashion edition, with installations from Julia Blackburn of Dust and Emily Baker of Sword + Fern, plus a late-night runway show of new work from sometimes-Portland, sometimes-San Francisco designer Chelsea Starr's House of Starr. (w/Atole, STLS, Permanent Wave, Gottesfinger, Lifepartner; Branx, 320 SE 2nd, Fri March 5, 9 pm, $5)