LAST FRIDAY'S Open Season fashion show had record attendance! Hundreds of supporters came out to see the latest from a diverse group of 12 Portland designers who gave a varied, entertaining show with equal parts style and charm.
Isaac Hers opened with a wearable, feminine nine-look collection that had a bit more edge than we've seen in past collections from designer Barbara Seipp—sheer black panels and bright metallics pumped up tweedier pieces, including several everyday looks like a shapely winter day dress and high-waisted stovepipe pants. Dawn Sharp followed with sheer floral dresses peppered with standouts like a smart velvet jacket, a slinky off-shoulder dress in wet black, and a show-stopping bikini.
Andy Lifschutz was the sole jewelry designer in the group, and he solved the issue of visibility by constructing large quasi-steampunk costume pieces of mixed materials alongside some of his heftier pieces on models wearing only simple black leotards. Rio Wrenn's R.A.W., a crowd favorite, showed her latest run of artisan-dyed lingerie, the standout look being a pair of playful tulle hip bustles over a beautiful crocheted pair of tap pants.
Heather Treadway introduced the first of several more performative moments in the show, as her dancer models were led onstage by a poncho-clad ringleader and aggressively danced their way up and down the runway in Treadway's movement-friendly dresses, separates, and dramatic capes. Janeane Marie showed a strong post-Project Runway collection, including a smart skirt suit in attention-grabbing chartreuse and a spectacular funnel-neck blanket coat.
Julia Blackburn's Dust line continued with Blackburn's deconstruction, with dresses in strips and washed-out colors meant to evoke work wear and a romantic sort of early 20th century American peasantry, with the added cute factor of including the show's two youngest models. Liza Rietz had a short-but-tight collection of sculptural dresses in touchable black with neon citrus accents, her origami influences incorporating well into a signature style.
Lindsey Reif's Reif line showed some real breakthrough for the quickly rising designer, most notably in a gown of sheer black with a crisscrossing bodice that managed to be elegant and still somewhat sporty, complementing the modern playfulness of her floral shorts and shorter cocktail numbers, which were witty and sexy with sheer layers and lace. Meanwhile Chelsea Erhart of Erhart expanded her streetwear for men to also include a nerd-chic cardigan and bike commute-ready jackets, with most of her models appearing in ties and dress shoes.
Relative newcomer RUKI by Melanie Parr turned out wear-anywhere graphic skirts and tops, as well as a great little leather jacket for all your windy summer nights. Adam Arnold, as always, gave the audience some theater with his comment on comfort dressing, sending out models in baggy sweats (including some amazing pieces in stripes and psychedelic paisley) taken to extremes, and including a full-body pillow suit and covetable little felt house slippers, complete with giant soda holders and ending with a finale-burst of feathers.
Thanks for everyone who helped, especially 220 Salon and Nica DeMaria. Let's do it again next year.