It seems it's been a while (maybe since the Basic Rights Oregon fundraiser?) since Portland cooked up one of its melting pot fashion parties. These are always interesting in that they give a snapshot of a diverse lineup of local design to a group of people who are there to support an organization or charity for which the event is raising money. Upbeat and entertaining, the designers usually don't create all new looks for the event, under the assumption that for the greater part of the audience it will be one of, if not the very first, introduction to their lines—an arrangement that is symbiotic assuming it scores the designers (and/or stores) new clients.
Next up on the block is Explode la Mode, a runway show benefiting p:ear that features a staggering number of designers who were nominated to participate by the stores that carry them: Frock (1439 NE Alberta), Garnish (1524 NE Alberta), IDOM (1600 NE Alberta), Tumbleweed (1812 NE Alberta), Pin Me (3705 N Mississippi), Phlox (3962 N Mississippi), Blue (3753 N Mississippi), Mabel and Zora (1468 NE Alberta & 748 NW 11th), Moxie (2400 E Burnside), Physical Element (1124 NW Lovejoy), Rock 'n' Rose (616 E Burnside), Lizard Lounge (1323 NW Irving), and Seaplane (827 NW 23rd). After proffering suggestions of their best-selling local designers, the roster came together, and it's as eclectic as one would expect: Moop Clothing, Estate, Tony Dimitri, Alyson Clair, Erhart, Summit, Aiguille et Fil, Beauty Mark Designs, Oh Buggy!, Mischelle Johnston, Different by Design, Garnish, Sky and Boat, Robin Forsythe, Jolie Benner, Rachelle Waldie, Colton Helfrecht, and Amy Snyder.
Among the styles represented in this group are a few off-the-radar selections that haven't been widely seen, including the knits and camo palette of Moop, whose range has traversed from knit halter dresses to leathery warrior woman separates. Tony Dimitri's T-shirts for men feature sexy V-neck cuts and clever-to-borderline-offensive graphics, like a hot woman bending forward with her hands on her knees with puppet strings reaching up to a controlling male hand peeping over the wearer's shoulder.
Among the more familiar (but still not too often seen) are Alyson Clair's curve-friendly, vintage-inspired designs, the punchy-colored street wear of Erhart, an eclectic range of eye-catching dress designs from Aiguille et Fil, the slightly punky, sassy, and bright frills of Beauty Mark, and ladylike dresses and separates from Garnish that span generations in their appeal.
With a full lineup of DJs (Kassette, Josh Jones, Joeeirwin, and Pipedream) keeping things moving, and a very reasonable suggested donation, this "explosion" is shaping up to look like a fun, if dizzying, way to take in some of the youngest up-and-coming lines in the city. Keep 'em coming. (Explode la Mode, Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th, Sat Aug 9, 9 pm, $5 suggested donation)