LAST WEEK, Portland’s style scene was taken by storm at the Fade to Light fashion show at the Crystal Ballroom. The twice-a-year event (which, full disclosure, is produced by another of the Mercury’s Sold Out columnists, Elizabeth Mollo) is one of the city’s most beloved fashion events and it sits perfectly timed as one the main premieres for upcoming collections of independent manufacturers in Portland.
As last week’s attendees know, Fade to Light is structured differently than your standard runway fashion show. Each contributing designer was hand-selected by Mollo and asked not only to show a completely new collection, but to accompany that collection with a video capturing the “soul” of their designs. Videos and performances push the narrative much further and let designers truly create a fuller story for their clothing.
Check Blogtown for my in-depth recap, but I wanted to share here some of my favorite moments from last week’s show. Among the seven designers who showed, there were some major standout pieces from each.
Opening the show was whimsical brand Adelheid Bergin, whose collection, “Kingdom,” blended woolly plaid textiles with brocades, and tied them all together with very wearable jumpers and wrap dresses. My favorite look was a shimmering brocade long-sleeve wrap dress that looked like something Kate Middleton would wear.
Veil & Valor stunned us with metallic printed textiles that blended a primal aesthetic with delicate silks and subdued color palette. They pushed the one-shoulder envelope with bell-sleeved dresses and tops that read as formal wear with a twist. Every time this company shows, I am mystified by the continuity and taste of their prints.
West Daily is a ready-to-wear company with such a broad range—absolutely beautiful garments for men and women that have an urban modernity with a perfectly timed conceptual element. West Daily’s sheer red blouse set was one of my favorite looks of the whole night.
Wendy Ohlendorf has become a much-talked-about independent designer in the scene with bespoke garments that range from formal wear to everyday looks. Her most recent collection delivered clean lines and beautiful attention to silhouette and tailoring, as well as some very innovative ready-to-wear pieces. There was a jacket and gold shorts combo that every person in the room was imagining themselves in, and some gorgeous formal dresses with bold prints. Continuity in color story was tied together with pops of gold. It was very effective.
Moore is a ready-to-wear company that I have totally fallen in love with, featuring ahead-of-trend design sensibilities for both men and women with an incredible attention to construction, quality, and tailoring. It is truly special that we have a company such as this to boast about in our fair city. The massive collection released by designer Andrea Jenkins had unity of color story, texture, innovation, and wearability.
Sara Bergman apparel is also among my favorite companies in Portland. Clean lines, luscious fabrics, and taste define this company. Bergman has a subtlety about her line; tucked in the details are wisely placed statements about design innovation. One of my favorite dresses of the entire night was her solid black maxi dress with a perfectly designed keyhole. I need one.
The headlining collection was a capsule collaboration by Altar Houseline, Michelle Lesniak, and Wolf Child. (Full disclosure: I am the designer/owner at Altar.) Our mission with this collection was to unite three different companies’ design sensibilities: boldly printed graphics, wearable ready-to-wear pieces, and high-design tailored jackets. Continuity of theme was developed through a focus on “classic gray aliens.” We promise to deliver more pieces from SEARCH3R to the public very soon.
I got a quick moment to chat with Mollo about her role in the Portland fashion scene and her plans for the future of Fade to Light. When asked what her overarching goal is with her work—which includes contributing to the Mercury, co-producing fashion shows with me (such as Alley 33 and Unmentionable), teaching at the Art Institute, and a myriad of other things—Mollo’s mission statement stands out.
“My goal is to show Portland that we have amazing design talent in this city, and that they should support these designers and the boutiques that sell them instead of relying on the mall and other fast fashion chains for their clothing,” she said. “I also love to be a catalyst for designers, models, and stylists to meet and network with each other. Backstage at Fade to Light is always so much fun, everyone supports and helps one another, there is never drama, and by the end it seems like everyone becomes great friends.”
Visit Blogtown for an in-depth recap of the most recent Fade to Light.