It's always invigorating for the design scene when a new name comes to the fore, but Tiffany Bean is already a familiar face. Having just celebrated its fifth anniversary, her boutique, Mabel & Zora, has been a familiar presence on the independent retail front, first in its original location along the NE Alberta retail corridor, and now in its current Pearl District digs at 748 NW 11th.
First, the confusing part: Longtime patrons have always known Bean as Tiffanee, but with the debut of her new eponymous line, the labels now read "Tiffany Bean"—a move she admits has caused more question marks than anticipated. The reason? She thought that the more traditional spelling better complemented the swooping '60s-era design of the line's logo, and she's right. In fact, she's considering changing the spelling of her name to match and cut down on the confusion.
Like her store, the new Tiffany Bean line is inspired by the cheerful femininity embodied by vintage film star Doris Day. Also akin to the focus of the shop, Bean's output thus far maintains an emphasis on dresses, some of which let Bean's self-described Southern (Texan, to be exact) style show a bit with a focus on bright, colorful prints. And while Bean has sewed all her life, she's taken her time with her foray into apparel design. When the store moved across town back in 2009, Bean planned to concentrate on her own work in earnest, but soon after became pregnant, which she admits captured much of her attention. Meanwhile she took classes through Portland Community College, the Art Institute, and now Portland Sewing—her line is set to be included in the sewing school's first anniversary party next month, on April 16.
This week, you can get a glimpse of Bean's debut work as part of the Boutiques Unleashed fashion show benefiting Dove Lewis, which features both four- and two-legged models (Bean's dog has modeled for the last several years). A recent visit to the shop found only two of Bean's dress designs swinging on the racks, but more pieces are rolling out of production, so for many the event will be their first good look at Bean's work. Other participants to watch out for include Amai Unmei, Clair Vintage Inspired, Folly, Garnish, Leanna NYC, Lizard Lounge, Phlox, Physical Element, Pin-Me Apparel, Popina, Saysay Boutique, Seth Aaron Henderson, and Shop Adorn, plus a slew of pet boutiques and adorable furry models. In addition, for two days after the show (April 2 and 3) all participating stores will be donating a percentage of their sales to the cause, so if you see something you like, give Fluffy a treat! Boutiques Unleashed, Tiffany Center, 1410 SW Morrison, Fri April 1, 6 pm, $60 (includes a hosted bar and more hors d'oeuvres than you can shake a skewer at)