OH BOY, here we go again. On Friday, June 24, the internet was set abuzz when the Project Runway crew set up in New York's Battery Park. Reporters, bloggers, and passersby with Facebook accounts snapped photos of the filming, which Art Institute of Portland teacher and Portland Monthly Fashion Editor Eden Dawn spent hours sorting through. It will no doubt be to the Lifetime network's chagrin that Dawn wears two hats: It was in her role as instructor that the show's producers asked her to suggest a few students for the show—and it was those faces, photographed in public view, that she was hunting for, ultimately visually identifying two of the three she had recommended, both recent graduates: Bryce Black and Becky Ross.
This will be the fourth season Portland-area designers have competed on the show. Black and Ross are preceded by Leanne Marshall, Janeane Marie Ceccanti, Vancouver's Seth Aaron Henderson, and Gretchen Jones—and with the sole exception of Ceccanti, all of them took home a win. It will be interesting to see how Black and Ross fare. Previous competitors from Portland had already dug into their careers and were well known within the local scene. By contrast, Black and Ross' most high-profile appearance was at the recent Art Institute graduate show (although Black's clothing has also been used in Portland Monthly editorials). Tune in on Thursdays starting on July 28, and look for our episode recaps each week on portlandmercury.com.
In un-televised news, those who've kept their eye on the retail developments at SW 13th and Burnside's Blackbox Building may have noticed its new Swedish outpost: Dunderdon swung open its doors in late May, after having kept its North American headquarters in Portland for several years. Store manager, product developer, and sometimes-designer Jessie DeSue gave us the downlow:
MERCURY: Why open a Portland storefront now?
JESSIE DeSUE: Although we've had our location in New York for years, we've continually gotten support and feedback from a loyal group of Portland-based Dunderdon customers. [And] although we do have several stockists here, many of them gravitate toward our popular carryover styles. By opening up our own storefront, it gives us the opportunity to show our customers the "big picture" that is Dunderdon. We are excited to have a place where Portland's creative tradesmen and women come through the door and find inspiration. We feel that our roots in work [are] something that the Northwest can relate to. So we created a retail environment that we feel has the potential to flourish with Portland's support.
What is the strategy with the new store? Is it tailored to this city?
We love Portland. We love being surrounded by the ingenuity, drive, and creativity that it harbors. We feel there is a parallel that can be drawn between Portland and Sweden in terms of design aesthetic and general appreciation for thoughtfully designed products, with an inherent consideration for the outdoors. We like the idea of bringing Sweden and Portland together. Many of the names on our ever-changing brand list are Swedish-made, US-made, and Portland-made brands that cannot be found elsewhere in the US, or have limited distribution. We are on a constant search for unique, innovative products that inspire us and can be used in an everyday work environment. Primarily being a men's brand, it's also important to mention that we're excited to be a part of the newly developed Blackbox Building! With neighbors like Blackbird and Tanner Goods, we hope the Blackbox will become the go-to spot for men's shopping.
How would you define the niche that Dunderdon fills?
Dunderdon is driven by functionality, innovation, and quality. We continue to build on these ideas while finding inspiration in classic fields of work. Inspiration for technical details come from Swedish military-issued clothing, classic nautical clothing, and as always, workwear as it relates to carpentry. Dunderdon, 1300 W Burnside #300