FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, most people are only interested in clothing in its final, wearable state. But this month, Gigantic Gallery opens The First Look, an exhibit of fashion sketches and illustrations from nine of Portland's most imaginative apparel designers, affording an intimate glance at the penciled origins of their designs before they've been compromised with material practicality.
The participants in the show include emerging designers like Devon Yan Berrong, who first drew attention nearly a year ago with a graphic black-and-white collection at the Portland Fashion Week Emerging Designer showcase and competition. He's since gone on to impress with Madame Butterfly-inspired work that reflects his Chinese background and fascination with entwining cultures. For a designer nimble with switching gears between vastly different aesthetics, one can only expect the first phase of the process to be a lively one. Joining him will be Filly designer Emily Christensen, another relative newcomer to the community who also made her local debut at the last PFW, and whose latest work takes a page from mid-century American modernism. "But not the big names like Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra," says Christensen. "I was attracted to the folkier side, the smaller, everyday artists and designers and the spaces within which they executed their craft."
Other standout participants include Elizabeth Rohloff, primarily known for her hat designs, Dawn Sharp, and Barbara Seipp of Isaac Hers, a women's clothing line that's informed and grounded by Seipp's knowledge of the boutique industry (she is founder and owner of the downtown shop Isaac Hers, which went by "Phlox" in its previous life in its original location on North Mississippi). Isaac Hers has steadily become increasingly emboldened by Seipp's design confidence. While Dawn Sharp's romantic designs, which take pages from psychedelic fairy tales and pastoral communities alike, are sure to be some of the most inspiring contributions on hand. Of particular interest is an "art-to-wear" dress collaboration being shown in conjunction with her sketch contributions, a joint venture between Sharp and Joanne Burke, AKA Chromium Dumb Bell, whose bright, fantastical accessories and tapestries render scenes of elfin figures in a melted swirl that tickles anyone with a soft spot for the collision of pop culture and the occult. Gigantic Gallery, 1720 NW Lovejoy, #103; The First Look opens Thurs Aug 4, through Aug 28
Meanwhile, Portland's independent retail sector took a hit last week with the announcement of Golden Rule's closure. A unique concept that combined the basic vintage/consignment shop model with collaborative art projects and monthly shop makeovers, Golden Rule will thankfully not disappear completely. A lengthy statement sent to the Mercury by founder Wynde Dyer outlined the circumstances leading up to her decision, as well as future plans for the venture:
"In our time of working with over 100-something volunteers, interns, consignors, artists, and designers, we've burnt a lot of bridges—fortunately, not as many as we've built—because of my present inability to not spread myself too thin by building community more effectively than I'm able to maintain it... Our hope is that without the overhead of a brick-and-mortar location, with more time, energy, and money to focus on the things we really enjoy doing and do well, we'll still be able to keep the community and creativity, and for a change, nurture it with some revenue."
Stay in touch with Golden Rule's pro-gress by sending a mailing list request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Eclexion Boutique has been kicking out some interesting events for First Thursday, and August is no exception. Stop in for collage art by Chrissy Ortez, a mini-runway show, and a DJ set from Miracles Club frontwoman Honey O. Eclexion Boutique, 825 NW Glisan, Thurs Aug 4, 6:30-9:30 pm
• Longtime swimwear/apparel designer Alice Dobson of Sofada is launching her new line of lingerie, Sofada Hotcakes. Sip drinks and check out the line as worn by "real woman" model types. Oh Baby, 722 NW 23rd, Thurs Aug 4, 6-9 pm
• Talent management company Ryan Artists is launching the first of their monthly trunk shows with Ms. Wood, featuring an origami installation, pink drinks, sale items, and the chance to place custom orders for the famous Ms. Wood platform shoes at wholesale cost! Ryan Artists, 1122 NW Marshall, Thurs Aug 4, 6-8 pm
• This week marks the completion of Grayling's first year in its Southeast studio, so come celebrate one of Portland's most prolific and individual lines of jewelry. Olympic Mill Atrium, 107 SE Washington, Fri Aug 5, 6 pm
• Union Rose's monthly showcase features Estate, a line of easygoing separates to transition you from late summer into fall. Look for new work as well as deeply discounted past-season designs. Union Rose, 7909 SE Stark, Fri Aug 5, 6-9 pm