Fashion may begin with the designer's vision, but it doesn't have to end there. Some of the best minds in the industry are those who do the buying for boutiques—scouring trade shows and researching lines to find the best items to suit their stores' personality and that of their customers. Often, these people are goldmines of information, brimming with informative back-stories to their garments. Essentially curators, these creative types bridge the gap in fashion between runway spectacle and commerce, making boutiques a vibrant and essential element of a city's colorful culture.

Portland is blessed to have a coterie of talented eyes behind the counters of its more conscientious boutiques. You won't find dime-a-dozen, cheap trend knock-offs or "made in China" tags at these locales, but you will find stylish, often local, exclusive, and unique items. Four of these stores have teamed up to present a runway show featuring their summer looks, in celebration of heavenly weather and heat-wave fashion: Denwave (811 E Burnside, #113), Yes (811 E Burnside, #116), Souchi (807 NW 23rd), and Una (2802 SE Ankeny). Collectively, these shops make up a powerhouse of influence, mainstays on the beaten path of any Portland shopper with wits about them, and the free show, aptly titled "4," is more about fun and camaraderie than commerce.

As for what will be shown at the event: Denwave has acquired a slew of swimsuits from Los Angeles' Ujena, including bikinis, separates, halters, boy shorts, and one retro-glam gold lamé piece reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. Also featured will be designs from co-owner Genevieve Dellinger, who has won over discerning hearts with her subtle, yet devastating pieces. To beat the heat, she's promising to show strapless tops and onesies. Another co-owner, eccentric jewelry designer Hazel Cox, is describing her pieces for the show as "accessories for warlocks" and "wizard meets Lee Scratch Perry." She titillates with the disclosure that this will involve snake spines worn as earrings(!). Also look for new handmade T-shirts for men and women from Moonblood, featuring spooky prints; lightweight button downs and denim from local John Blasioli's a broken spoke; and snap-crotch onesies from San Francisco's She-Bible.

Souchi, which started as the headquarters for Suzi Johnson's luxurious line of sexy cashmere, will show off its expansion into other lines of apparel, featuring skinny jeans and pencil skirts from Lyell and dresses from Corey Lynn Calter. The Souchi line itself will be represented in oversize cardigans, asymmetrical camisoles, plunging necklines, cap-sleeved vests, and off-the-shoulder tunics.

The popular Yes boutique is letting loose with new items from Wooden Mustache, Mary Meyer, Cece Chin, and LA Made, as well as local designs from Liza Rietz and Johnny Schultz, with jewelry by Amy Tavern. Rounding out the show is Una, with Hengst, Desanka, and the work of local designer Jess Beebe, Linea.

The show will consist of eight looks from each store, and will culminate with four models wearing ensembles pulled from each shop. That's something of a fantasy come true, having some of the best eyes in town creating outfits out of their pooled resources. It's how clothing is actually worn on the street, and will demonstrate how the styles of each shop complement each other, as well as the mutual support between these friends and colleagues.

Accompanying the runway show will be abstract video footage by Colin Brown, and music will be provided by Copy and Sew What. True to the sun-worshipping spirit of the season, most of the show will spill out onto the outside walkway, and will be standing room only. Plus, naturally, the clothing from the show will be available for closer inspection and purchase after the event. (Sat July 22, 9 pm, 811 E Burnside, free)

Also worthy of your calendar: There will be a trunk show at Löyly, featuring local designs and including everything from handbags and apparel to skin care products and jewelry. Keep an eye out particularly for Garnish Apparel, the work of Erica Platt, who you may have known formerly as Holden Apparel. Damn copyrights. (Thurs July 20, 6-9 pm, Löyly, 2713 SE 21st, free)

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