THE BAD NEWS: Two weeks ago, the Art Institute of Portland was affected by nationwide restructuring within the chain of schools to eliminate, according to a press release, "redundancies and complexities." At the Portland school, 15 positions were "impacted," and are being replaced with just nine new positions according to the schools' Devra Pransky, who also noted, "Those that were impacted have the opportunity to apply."
The news sent shockwaves through the school community and by extension the creative industries where many alumni now participate. But it took longer than expected for everyone to get the memo, due to an apparent technical glitch that prevented students from receiving a mass email announcing the changes, leaving the news to travel via speculation and word of mouth for days.
In the school's fashion department, its longtime Academic Director Sue Bonde and Assistant Director Melanie Risner were among those whose positions have been eliminated. Bonde in particular is widely credited with elevating the quality of education for aspiring fashion students in Portland, and the news of both dismissals came as a shock. The changes not only threw into question the academic tracks of students, who often plan the coming year's classes based on offerings taught by particular teachers, but seemed to pose a threat to the school's annual graduate fashion show. A massive event, the graduate show is spearheaded by a small group of staff including Bonde and Risner, who work with students in various fields to produce it. Although it ostensibly brings fashion design students specifically to the fore, the show is also the largest fundraiser for scholarship dollars for the school as a whole. It's difficult to imagine the event happening without these key players, but according to Pransky, they plan to proceed with next year's. In the meantime it's possible that Bonde and Risner will resurface to fill some of those nine remaining spots.
And, the good news: When the economy tanked, notorious Vogue Editor Anna Wintour decided to do her part in the name of recovery. She worked with the city of New York to arrange a massive night of retail festivities called Fashion's Night Out, which has now spread to cities all over the world, including Portland. Just about every downtown retailer is hosting some kind of party on September 6, with Director Park acting as a central hub of activity. There, a fashion show of fall looks from stores like Mercantile, Parallel, Radish Underground, House of Lolo, Mario's, and Frances May will repeat every half hour from 5-7 pm, plus there will be refreshments, mini-makeovers from Sephora, pedicab rides, goodie bags, raffles, and more.
A few shop highlights: Solestruck is hosting a pop-up shop launch party for Seattle brand Dolce Vita, with champagne, ice cream, music, and giveaways—they've never thrown a bad party. Mario's is teaming up with Agave Denim, Cristen Jewels, and Shwood to break out the vodka and celebrate Agave's 10th anniversary with an extended inventory. And, Frances May is hosting a cocktail party and meet 'n' greet with the designers behind Pendleton's the Portland Collection and jewelry lines AK Vintage and Better Late Than Never. Fashion's Night Out, Thurs Sept 6, downtownportland.org