FashioNXT, the four-day event that shows Portland “what’s next in fashion,” went down last month and was the official conclusion of the 2017 fashion show season. Attending the event as an audience member for the first time was a little strange—I was the runway producer starting with its inception in 2012—but it was great to just sit back and watch the show. Twenty-two designers participated over the course of four days, some with collections I absolutely loved, others with collections I absolutely hated—but that’s the nature of group shows. One of the major factors that draw designers to FashioNXT is the top-notch runway lighting, which illuminates every single detail on the clothing and models. It also spotlights flaws, so if you’re a designer, your shit better be on point.

There’s not enough space to go into detail about every single designer, so I’ll be focusing on collections from Portland companies.

James Hunt Jeff Wong
Night One

May and Mary Apparel Jeff Wong
Minnie Opal Jeff Wong
The UpNXT emerging designer competition opened the show with five hopefuls vying for the top spot. The point was to give exposure to designers at the beginning of their careers, so one has to be a little forgiving when it comes to design and construction issues; often, collections come off as “student work.” My two favorite collections were from James Hunt and May and Mary Apparel, which were so solid in terms of design, construction, and cohesion that they didn’t resemble student work at all. Ultimately, the winner of the competition was eco-conscious designer Minnie Opal.

Night Two

Myriam Marcela Jeff Wong
This was a very Portland-centric night featuring some outstanding collections; my favorite was from Myriam Marcela. The collection, titled Wild Woman, is a collaboration with NYC-based textile artist Laura Renée Maier. Much of the work was done on a 100 year-old sewing machine, and featured intricate women’s portraits in black thread that adorned exquisitely tailored white jackets and coats. Seriously, this collection was so beautiful people in the audience were audibly gasping.

COLTY Jeff Wong
Colty was another crowd favorite. This line’s debut at Fade to Light in February had people gasping in a different sort of way with its BDSM undertones. And while the collection shown at FashioNXT was definitely on the tamer side, it still had all the theatrics one would expect, complete with a model walking down the runway sucking on a pacifier connected to a chain on his harness. The collection featured a vast array of extremely well-made leather accessories, including body harnesses, backpacks, and totes, along with two amazing leather jackets in a soft pink-and-white color palette.

Moore Jeff Wong
Moore delivered yet another top-notch ready-to-wear collection for women and men featuring floral prints paired with neutral tones and pops of red. Many pieces would easily fit into the typical Portlander’s wardrobe, and while I was definitely feeling the autumnal vibes, these pieces could definitely be year-round staples.

Night Three

Michelle Lesniak Jeff Wong
Michelle Lesniak opened the show with her THORNEBIRD collection, which I reviewed back in July. (To jog your memory, this collection was based on the story of a bird that searches its entire life to find the perfect thorn. Once the thorn is found, it impales itself and sings the most beautiful song ever heard.) While I’d seen most of the pieces before, there were a few beautiful new pieces that skewed toward a darker color palette, but still fit within the story of the collection. My favorite part was when one of the dresses went down the runway on a male model, in keeping with the ongoing trend of fashion challenging gender norms.

Seth Aaron Jeff Wong
Seth Aaron closed the show with a Japanese-inspired collection paired with the world’s first 3D-printed designer shoe collection in collaboration with Feetz. I loved this collection, which played with shape, volume, and silhouette while still keeping the same narrative. Favorites included a blazer with slim cutouts at the shoulders and a bottom hem that whimsically folded upward, and a jogger pant with pleated sheer fabric inserted on the sides that billowed outward as the model walked.

Night Four

Designs by Thor Jeff Wong
The last day of shows only featured one designer from Portland, Designs by Thor. This company is best known for creating custom suits and jackets for men and women, and the collection that went down the runway was expertly tailored, with each look displaying unique details like contrasting welt pockets and lapels, as well as an interesting use of color blocking.

Honorable mention to non-Portland designers Vouture, Lourdes é Eva, Tiffany Brown, Brittany Nicole, and Julie Danforth. Check them out!