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Springing Ahead

The months are dark, the parties aplenty, and most people are waiting for their post-New Year's Resolution figures to kick in before thinking seriously about what they'll be wearing come spring. Not so down at Garment (4136 SE Hawthorne), where preparations are underway to reveal the spring lines of some 12 Northwest designers whose goods can be found at the store.

One part of the Urban Art Network's third annual holiday art exhibition, the artists selected to represent the fashion contingent at the event fit perfectly into the Network's goal of providing support for independent artists, emphasizing clothing that is hand designed and limited edition. Situated in the midst of an all-day affair at the Crystal Ballroom showcasing visual art, music, and unique (of course!) gift ideas, Garment will be holding a runway show as well as a shopping-friendly fashion and jewelry expo.

One of the biggest fashion names that will be showing is Sofada, the work of Alice Dobson, and one of the Portland exports that has made it to the runways of New York. Classy yet sexy, her designs can often be identified by a signature ruffling at the edges of sleeves and skirts, and her pieces tend to rejoice in colors and pattern, a welcome departure from the monochromatic mania.

Flood Clothing is another familiar face, one of the cleaner examples of designers who emphasize recycling in their methods. Creator Nicole Flood uses secondhand clothing and reshapes it into a second life. An old graphic T-shirt is combined with a men's dress shirt or a lacey top to create a longer skirt and some sleeves, and voila, it becomes an unusual one-of-a-kind dress. Likewise, a granny violet floral sweater gets its arms chopped off, its neck scooped, and a lace trim to create an edgier, younger piece. As I've said before, this method treads a thin line between funky and garbagey, but can work on the right person.

Far subtler in use of resurrected pieces is Seattle's Suzabelle, which adds hand-painted designs to update tweed jackets, and breathes new life into old incarnations to display a range of dresses from simple jerseys to ball gown confections that maintain a strong sense of their history. Other pieces include flirty, classic flounce dresses, demure camisoles, belted jackets, and tunics that hearken gently back to a less aggressive era of fashion without looking off-puttingly old-timey.

Also showing is Eden Dawn Apparel, a line of primarily cozy pieces like T-shirts, tanks, boy shorts, hoodies, and casual skirts printed with graphics that give homage to the greats of fashion design history. While such pieces can be appealing, and certainly have their place and function, they do not strike one as necessitating a runway exhibition, given that comfort wear such as it is tends to be better experienced through exploring the feel of the fabric and ease of fit. Nonetheless, more power to Eden Dawn for capitalizing on the exposure. Hopefully she will include more of the overtly outerwear pieces that were glimpsed during her portion of fall's Portland Fashion Week.

Mabel and Audrey will present the latest in their line of simple, wearable, comfortable, and sleek clothing "for classy broads," which emphasizes a flexibility for a range of sizes. Another similarly minded line is Midgewear, whose pieces tend to be simple basics with a twist, versatile, and widely appealing.

Collectors of denim—particularly fans of esoteric denim—will want to check out Louise Jeans, something your friends and family back home will surely not recognize when you blow in to town for Christmas. The designs often feature cuffs trimmed in patterned satins.

Other designs will be shown from She-She (super-girly, ruffled slips that beg against all better judgment to be worn as dresses, but which actually have far more impact behind closed doors and peeking under hems), Lucia, Heidi Steeves, Misha Ashton, and Eve. (Sun Dec 17, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, exhibition runs 2-8 pm, fashion show 7 pm, free, all ages)

Other happenings: Shoefly is having a holiday party, with nibble and drinks, plus—get this—complimentary foot massages! You'll also save, with increasing percentages off your purchase price, the greater the number of pairs of shoes you buy. (Thurs Dec 14, Shoefly, 718 NW 11th, 6:30-9 pm)

And finally Weiden + Kennedy is hosting the Sample Sale of the Century, featuring goods from locals No Star, Bonnie Heart Clyde, Sameunderneath, db clay, Tanner, and more. (Sat, Dec 16, Weiden + Kennedy, 224 NW 13th, 11am-4pm)

Too much shopping, too little time: marjorie@portlandmercury.com

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