The first night of FashioNXT came out with a bang. Arriving at the venue, guests were dressed to the nines as they entered a massive industrial building that is currently converted into a fashion spectacle. Producer, Tito Chowdury, takes infrastructure very seriously which is one of the main reasons FashioNXT garners national attention: It is the most professional fashion show setting our fair city has to offer.
To commence the four nights of fashion, Mayor Charlie Hales and first lady, Nancy Hales, gave a warm welcome to the emerging talent we would be seeing that evening adding that the importance of supporting start-up apparel companies in our city is inextricably linked with the vibrancy Portland boasts in our design scene. The spectrum of talent we could look forward to were hand selected by the FashionXT committee for a range of reasons, primarily that each company showed promising design sensibilities.
The show began with current Project Runway contestant, Sara Donofrio, whose line called One Imaginary Girl, is a burst of color story amid the typical Northwest color story. Having just moved into the Portland scene hailing from Toronto, it's a breath of fresh air to see something so different hit our runways. Bold prints, geometric motifs, and vintage-inspired silhouettes were playful yet mature, and remarkably relatable. As someone who typically only wears dark colors myself, I found myself envisioning a number of pieces from this collection assimilating into my wardrobe as beautiful statement elements. Some of the prints reminded me of the animated scene breaks in Saved By The Bell (and I mean that in a good way). I expect exciting things from this company in days to follow.
My favorite look from One Imaginary Girl was a mismatched yellow pencil skirt that was fabulously tailored and a silk blouse with a bow-tied neckline.
The next designer was another newcomer to the Portland fashion scene, at least to my recollection. LaDonna Joyce’s line of upcycled/re-designed apparel is called And She Saw Stars. Employing old t-shirts to be reworked and reimagined as dresses communicated a careful use of draping technique showed off a strong grasp of silhouette. At first, I was a little trepidatious about the use of “up-cycling” (and to be honest, the Dr. Who prints and Star Wars prints were not to my taste) but I was impressed that the line managed to stick with it’s conceptual element until it proved itself. The contrast stitching was beautiful and the play on a bridal finale look was really clever.
Favorite look from this company was the solid white finale look.
After a brief intermission, we were ready for the UpNXT emerging designer competition which serves as an incubator for up-and-coming companies and partners with Mercy Corps NW to provide business consultation and financing for start-up companies. This year’s competition hosted five companies who each showed incredible promise in a range of directions from ready-to-wear to couture/bespoke.
We kicked off with Michiya Stine designs, who harkened to her Japanese heritage using beautiful pastel silks with Japanese floral motifs (which are my personal kryptonite). The silhouettes had kimono-inspired elements that were updated and wearable, as well as some handmade fascinators that tied the whole aesthetic together. My favorite look was an effortless wrap shirt and high waisted short that was very relatable and well tailored.
Lourdes e Eva by Nora Suarez followed up with another Spring/Summer collection employing a delicate pastel and taupe color story. The silhouettes were flirty and delicate with a strong sense of textile that seemed luscious and high-fashion. The first look was a beautiful bias cut silk body suit that made swoon right away (and pockets, yes pockets). I look forward to see more separates from this company such as the sweater knit blouses which have a high end ready-to-wear quality that will take Suarez far.
Fraulein Couture by Vanessa Froehling had a great sense of details tucked into each garment. Contrast fabrics, darting, pleating, and gathers were sophisticated and finished. The overall aesthetic had urbanity and a bit of an industrial flair. I was very impressed with construction and look forward to seeing what pieces Froehling plans to do production on for purchase as I think a lot of these pieces will be very marketable.
The peplums were on point.
Next up was Eve SkyWalker by designer Eve Styles. I have seen quite a bit of work from this particular designer, and somehow every time I see her work in shows, she always manages to create the best-in-show look in my opinion. I was floored by her manipulation of textile in this collection, and while I have seen her dye textiles as well as use her own photography for her garments in the past, this year she really outdid herself. Pressed flowers added a poetry to garments that had a beautiful sense of structure. Honestly, you’d really have to see this collection in person to relate with the beauty of it, but I’ll do my best here.
Simply amazing. The textile choice was bold and well executed, the garments were romantic and the pops of color kept our attention. Most of all: those pressed flowers. For real. All of the looks were my favorite; here are a couple.
The winner of the UpNXT competition was up-and-coming clothing company, MOORE, who I have written about quite a bit this Summer. Not surprisingly, designer Andrea Jenkins, brought her A-game with reversible, convertible men and women’s wear. Incredibly wearable, beautifully made, and totally on-trend Jenkins is truly deserving of the award last night as we can all expect big things from her company. Keep your eyes on MOORE.
We have three more nights ahead for FashioNXT, so keep an eye for my recaps!! So far, I am very impressed with everything I have seen and can't wait to see what's in store from Walter Mendez, Michelle Lesniak, and more!