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Adieu to Portland Fashion Week

Hundreds made the two-elevator pilgrimage up to the top floor of the "Stinky Pinky" [US Bancorp Tower] for the inaugural Portland Fashion Week show last Friday, October 20—although most of the familiar faces that habitually haunt Portland fashion events were absent. But with a couple more nights bringing up the rear of Portland Fashion Week, you've still got a shot at seeing how the other half lives.

Firstly, the view from the 43rd floor is amazing, and well worth any excuse you can find to get there. The Portland City Grill, several floors below, is basically Portland's answer to New York's legendary Windows on the World restaurant, and is itself on the checklist of "places every Portlander should go." But the tippy-top floor, which is unfinished, with a warehouse-y feel, isn't often accessible to the public, so events like these are somewhat rare opportunities.

Sparsely decorated, Portland Fashion Week's setup allows for a lengthy runway with a clean white backdrop, certainly one of the most professional- looking runways seen here in recent memory. Beyond that, visitors have more than enough room to mingle, and there are several bars set up throughout, as well as a table selling snacks like quiche and desserts. A word of warning, however, to those of you who splurged on VIP tickets: That does not exclude you from the responsibility of paying for your drinks! It does, however, put you behind the velvet ropes with the other VIPs, which on opening night included Mayor Tom Potter, who kicked off the event with a speech. It was rather amusing, considering the original primary goal of the organizers was to publicize Portland as a hub of sustainable fashion design, that Potter admitted he had "just learned tonight that sustainability applied to clothes." (Despite his front-row presence at the sustainable fashion show [entitled "Locally Grown"] and accompanying month-long exhibition that city hall hosted in September).

A more plugged in Sam Adams acted as host, wearing a tie from Emily Katz's Bonnie Heart Clyde collection, as well as a Black Fox jacket, both local. On a rare and seemingly random celebrity-sighting note: Michael C. Hall, who played David Fisher in Six Feet Under and more recently stars as Dexter Morgan in Dexter, was inexplicably sitting directly behind me.

Alice Dobson's Sofada line kicked off Portland's final week of fashion for the year, accompanied by Janine Gibbons' jewelry and Visage Eyewear. A veteran of last year's New York Fashion Week, Dobson showed spring pieces that continued in the vein of classic (and classy) wearability, with crisp whites and sunny polka dots, bright florals, stripes, and dashes of red and lightweight denim. Of particular appeal was a pair of crisp white pants with black piping running up and down the front and back of both legs, evocative of hosiery seams. A floor-length halter dress in juicy green and blue floral, and several punchy coats in candy hues of pink and green also stood out. Of her bathing suits, the most appealing was a strapless green and white tropical print, cut to look vintage. Low points: the prom-dressy employment of tulle peeking out of a strapless dress, and a Bermuda-shorts suit—although in Dobson's defense, this look almost never appears short of ridiculous.

Although I unfortunately had to miss Saturday and Sunday's shows, reports and photographs reveal good news: excellent options for menswear from The Black Fox and Duchess, a godsend in a town that experiences a dearth in proper options for the lads on most days.

Still to come is Thursday's "OSU Fashion Night," an exciting chance to view designs from students, faculty, and alumni of Oregon State University's Department of Design and Human Environment. And Friday brings the Week's finale, with Urban Metallics, Kicklet Kreations, Adriana Couture, Urban Girl NW, Leanimal, DoubleCross Belt Co., Magalí Corzo, and Eden Dawn Apparel—a combination that should provide a nice melting pot of styles.

It's a nice change of pace to see Portland designs in such a clean, professional setting, and in front of a vast, well-heeled, and seemingly serious audience. Come see for yourself, and sip a cocktail over the lights of the town. (43rd floor of the US Bancorp Tower, 111 SW 5th, Thurs-Fri Oct 27-28, 7 pm receptions, 8 pm shows, $10-15, all ages, portlandfashionweek.net)

Bright lights, city nights: marjorie@portlandmercury.com

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