ORDINARILY, summertime sees a dearth of fashion-show action in Portland, despite the fact that this town loves just about any occasion for a catwalk. Designers are typically between seasons, or have moved on to the fall clothes that nobody's ready to think about yet, and even clotheshorses become minimalists in the heat. Last year Cassie Ridgway changed all that. The Honey Bijoux designer and owner of Mag-Big threw the first annual Alley 33 fashion show—so named after the SE 33rd alley where it takes place, adjacent to the Gold Dust Meridian, which joins in to keep the party flowing with the addition of a beer garden.
"It's an unusual time, but Portland designers have tended to learn how to make their clothing wearable in all seasons," explains Ridgway of the mid-summer timing, noting that she places no seasonal restrictions on what designers choose to show. Some of the designers are planning to take the opportunity to showcase a mix, demonstrating the ability to comfortably adapt pieces for a variety of seasons, something that Portland dressers are already accustomed to doing.
"We wanted small production to be in the public eye rather than in an exclusive setting," says Ridgway, and there is no place more public than right off one of Portland's most heavily foot-trafficked thoroughfares, SE Hawthorne. It's this traffic, too, that Ridgway also hopes to showcase, noting that she finds "daily inspiration" in the clothing she sees traipsing down the boulevard.
At last count, Alley 33 is slated to showcase a whopping 20-plus designers with 117 looks (!), making it one of the most massive displays of Portland design talent you may ever see in one sitting. Attendees can expect a wide spectrum of genres, including introductions to student designers and participants from further afield, like a group making the trip up from Eugene. Expect everything from swimwear to bridal to tasteful goth (in hot weather!) attire, in a show whose length will be mitigated with attention-retaining shifts of aesthetics and surprise appearances from a host of local personalities. (Ridgway dropped names like Voodoo Doughnut's Tres Shannon and erstwhile Decemberist Jesse Emerson—and current member of the Caleb Klauder Band—by way of specific guest models.)
All of Portland's runway-starved will be out to sip a few cold ones and see the latest from talents like Alicia Wood of Ms. Wood, Clair Vintage Inspired, Make It Good, Silvania, Varnish, She-She, and so many more, so don your best iteration of easy summer dressing and join the cabal. Just make sure you don't skimp on SPF. Alley 33, SE Hawthorne & 33rd, Sat July 28, doors 6 pm, show 7 pm, $12-15, hosted by Eden Dawn with music by DJ Gregarious.