My apologies for how long it has taken me to recap FashioNXT. To be honest, fitting this much fashion into one four-day marathon is a Herculean effort, and recapping every designer is quite the undertaking. In my first post, I went over the opening night of emerging designers (please find a link to that here). The nights that followed had a huge cascade of ready-to-wear, couture, bridal, and conceptual.
So before I begin going designer by designer, let me first say: production quality was on point. Venue was completely transformed, models were stunning, and the stage performance was executed with a degree of professionalism that truly puts this show on the mark. Kudos to Tito Chowdury and team on their accomplishment.
Now for the goods, designer by designer:
Myriam Marcela: culling some fierce Boho vibes, we had a stunning 1970’s color story that employed a beautiful use of paneling, textile braiding, and a bias-cut silk dress that makes the heart skip a beat. Truly my favorite collection that I have seen from this designer, and as well, my favorite collection of FashioNXT night 2.
Shea Wilxox: chic and refined with continuity of color story and silhouette. Had sort of a country club refinement about it with overlays that were imaginative and unique. The gloves were a super fun element as well.
Moontess: I have seen a little bit of work from this company, primarily in the swimwear category. An innovative sense of shape and hardware, it is really exciting to see such well-made swimsuits that are fashion-forward and functional. The addition of faux fur had it’s moments, but some of it was a little too festival for me. I loved the resort elements and the finesse that styled swimwear into everyday looks. I expect great things from this company.
Stephanie Says went big on color story with a Betsy-Johnson style sensibility. Pink, black, white, pink, pink, pink. So the truth for me is that I have a personal aversion to pink and yet I really liked her use of it. Designer, Stephanie Houlis, has a strong sense of bodice construction which is really nice to see. I think she will parlay into formal wear in a big way as the years go on, and I would like to see her textile choices and overall aesthetic grow (and perhaps employ more neutral tones for buyers like me that can’t quite rock the pink).
Vien To is a Portland bridal line that included bridesmaid and bridal dresses. The electric blue bridesmaid dresses were totally my favorite: using fabulous necklines and pretty peplums. The classic mermaid style wedding dress with lace appliqué was also a stunner. This designer clearly has construction in her wheel house, and I would definitely suggest her for a consultation on custom bridal because her aesthetic seems to be very versatile.
Sophie Chang Bridal showed us a ready to wear side that included men’s wear which was a very unexpected and pleasant surprise. Dresses had a perfectly placed low scoop neckline for a bodacious amount of “cleave.” The men’s shirts were beautifully made but I think the textile was a bit too blousy and snug to the body. I felt this collection had one LBD (little black dress) that would be a classic addition to any wardrobe.
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Wendy Ohlendorf showed a few familiar pieces that I have fan-girled for a while and was so happy to see in person one more time (such as her stunning velvet burnout off-the-shoulder dress and my favorite hot pants and blouse set that I wrote about after the last Fade to Light). I love to see this designer constantly pushing herself to create; her body of work is becoming quite the vision. The textile choices are starting to really tell the story of her company: simultaneously muted and natural with a pop of sparkle and glam. Kudos, Wendy. I sure love your work.
Katherine Tessier came out with a monotone collection that gave everyone in the room the high-waisted pants envy. Know that feeling when you see a perfect pair of high-waisted jeans? Yeah, you do. Well, she sure nailed it. The rest of this collection had mod vibes and some seriously cute A-line mini dresses. I’m into it.
SIDE NOTE: Can we talk about this babe model, Kimber London? Shaved head and ruling the runway harder than anyone. Loved her.
Stephanie D Couture delivered a collection that mixed ready-to-wear with conceptual and showed a broad spectrum of work from her company. It seems like she wants to move away from being pigeon-holed as bridal, and she made some really clever maneuvers to show her casual side. The yoke on the white mini dress created a gorgeous silhouette (worthy of bridal) but so wearable and relatable. I also adored her tulle skirt (which could style in so many ways).
Walter Mendez brought down the house with a 2 part collection that is worthy of it’s own evening. A beautiful use of sheer paneling, peplum, perfectly tailored bodices, and a gorgeous sense of color story that came across as naturalistic with pops of jewel tones. Some of my favorites include:
Also, quick model shout out: Favour Kibali where have you been? We have all missed you!
Walter & Ryan was the second part of the Walter Mendez show that focused on a bridal collaboration with designer Ryan Patros. The. dresses. were. beautiful. My words fall short; here are some photos:
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Julie Danforth is a Seattle-based couture designer with a great sense of the bias cut. The draping on the dresses was beautiful and I am crushing — big time — on the magenta silk two-piece set. Mercy!
Melynda Valera of Los Angeles had a collection that employed appliquéd silk flower embellishments. It was a little hit-and-miss for me; a few of the pieces had a beautiful use of concentrated floral accents that cascaded down the dress, and some others felt like an after-thought for continuity.
I think some of my pause is colored by the sheer amount of pastel pink that nearly every designer at FashioNXT seemed to use this year. I know that Pantone suggested a soft pink, but I feeling a little fettered by pink at this point as a color story. I think it takes me out of picturing it against a Cascadian backdrop.
I was very fond of the white pants with the floral element. So darn cute.
Romey Roe is a New Orleans brand that definitely has some music about it. Employing fringe, brocades, piping, beaded notions, and velvet gave it sort of a theatrical component. It seemed opulent and refined which I loved. My favorite garments was a space-aged silver strapless dress with a cute peplum that also featured a really interesting panel effect on the skirt. The only thing I wasn’t fond of was the hair concept. Slicked down hair, IMO, doesn’t elevate the evening vibe of this line.
Layneau is a lingerie company from Portland that featured some stunning boudoir pieces that had a strong sense of silhouette and comfort (the two most important things to focus on when you’re a lingerie manufacturer). I wasn’t familiar with this company and am pleased to know about them; some of these garments were couture works of art while others were so relatable that I am lusting to find out where I can purchase them! I felt like continuity of concept was so on point that we could bridge the gap between garments that we will probably find for sale and garments that flex up on the designer’s clearly impressive construction. This line was one of my favorite lines at FashioNXT. This blue tunic style night gown is so beautiful!
Elevating everything — like she always does — Michelle Lesniak gave us a collection that makes the heart skip a beat. Her design whims are poetic and imaginative. Her sensibility for details that make each garment feel like a fucking masterpiece (not to mention, everything was styled with Salt Empire jewelry which is, in my opinion, in the top tier of most innovative jewelry companies that Portland has ever had). Lesniak’s collection employed structured paneling in shapes that are clearly such a masterful display of craftsmanship and vision; the velvet t-length dress, for example, creates a skeleton out of sheer inlays. The color story of black, champagne, and neon green is just too good. Such a refreshing boldness. I can’t even with this company; our city should be damned proud to host a designer such as this (full disclosure: I have been a fangirl of this company for years).
My overall perspective on FashioNXT is that it needs a boost in it’s designer outreach and this is not for lack of trying. All of the FashioNXT team is deeply involved in the fashion community, and yet it seems that when they ask the design community to help them take everything to the next level, many designers are gun shy of being a part of such a big production. I can’t deny that I would have liked to see more work from Portland-based designers that I feel should be the focal point of out-of-town fashion editors such as those from Marie Claire magazine who were in attendance. I don’t what next year holds in store for their line up, but I hope they will court more designers whose production and outreach warrant the acclaim and national notoriety that this show garners. This is my call to action to get more people involved. They are putting the work into a show that is only as strong as our support, so let’s give back what they’re putting into it.
Kudos, FashioNXT team. It was a beautiful show.