Portland Haute Couture?

It's true that when you walk down the streets of Portland, most people look like they're dressed to go to the Laundromat--but that doesn't mean there's no fashion. We're a town of poor, struggling artists, and it turns out many of us poor strugglers are fashion designers. Stella Farina, the founder and executive director of the newly launched non-profit company PDX Fashion Incubator (www.fashonincubator.org), showcases Portland's wealth of local talent this Sunday with a 28-artist fashion show at the Portland Art Museum.

When Stella talks about the Portland fashion explosion, she cites the opening of Seaplane in October 2001 (a boutique on Belmont that features local designers) as a landmark in the evolution of Portland's couture community. She says that although the city is littered with talent, most of the designers didn't know each other and had no network.

Farina explains that after many loveless years in Corporate America, getting laid off twice, and enjoying only low-level opportunities at local apparel conglomerates, she decided to use her organizational skills to create something worthwhile. Her interest in business and apparel design helped create Fashion Incubator, which opened its office/showcase in January and is preparing for its second runway show. Incubator helps artists by teaching classes focusing on the business and marketing side of fashion, promoting Fashion Incubator members' work (membership is $150 a year), and providing computers and software for designers so they can create brochures for their creations.

The strength of the fashionistas and the local interest in original clothing is evident in the opening of boutiques featuring local talent, such as the Gold Boutique (1524 NE Alberta), Itch (SE Clinton & 26th), and Sofada (NE Fremont & 45th)--all of which opened within the last year and a half. Wildly successful, colorful, and professional fashion shows are also becoming a Portland cultural mainstay. Just recently, Seaplane hosted another runway extravaganza at Weiden-Kennedy, while Lush hosts smaller, more frequent shows. And now there's Fashion Incubator's show this Sunday. The clothing lines on display range from streetwear (Uniform), to menswear, to accessories (Muse Handbags, Accents of Grace jewelry), to lingerie, to a couture bridal line.

The designs and models for Incubator rival those on the New York runways. Plus, this Portland show features dozens of talents, unlike your typical one-man Isaac Mizrahi show. Beyond being a visual buffet, Incubator's show will be an educational experience--where slobs like you and me can be enlightened to fashion beyond the grubby band tee and Converse. KATIE SHIMER

Fashion Incubator's "The Art in Fashion," Portland Art Museum's Grand Ballroom, Sunday March 16, 7 pm (doors at 5), tickets at

www.communityboxoffice.net, or by calling 226-0973.

Hugest Anti-War March Ever!

It is sometimes too overwhelming to fully understand the gravity and future impact of current events. But, for better or worse, this Saturday promises to be a turning point in Bush's march to war.

In Portland, planners expect an eye-popping 30,000 people to show up and march against President Bush's pledge to plow forward with his plans to invade Iraq. Coordinated with protests in dozens of other cities around the globe, the number of demonstrators worldwide could top 10 million.

This anti-war march comes on the heels of a similar worldwide demonstration last month, where an estimated 6 million people from Paris boulevards to Portland's Park Blocks protested President Bush's headstrong foreign policy. Yet, in press conferences following those marches, Bush was dismissive. "I don't decide policy based on focus groups," he declared. (Ironically, The New York Times recently reported that the Bush administration actually does employ focus group for deciding policies.)

But don't despair: In spite of Bush's cold shoulder, the increasing public pressure is shifting policy. Already, other nations and leading senators are back-peddling on their pro-war support. This truly could be the first time in history that a collective massive demonstration will stop a war before it begins.

What is perhaps even more remarkable is that these demonstrations dwarf anti-war demonstrations from other eras--both in terms of sheer numbers, and diversity. The cross-section is remarkable: from anarchists to labor unions. Even the Pope--the goddamn Pope!--has added his voice to the anti-war protests. What about you? PHIL BUSSE

Waterfront Park, between SW Salmon and Morrison, for more info call 471-1535, Saturday, March 15, 2 pm

You Go, Margaret Cho

Miss Cho is a ho and we LOVE her for it. She talks dirty, carries a big stick, and has been touring on the comedy circuit for over a decade now--yet she is far from stale. Her tuff-as-nails, no-bullshit artistry keeps her at the forefront of stand-up. It costs $30 in advance to check out her show at the Schnitz, but you should still attend because she is fucking hilarious. I nearly peed my GD under-roos while watching her Notorious C.H.O. concert DVD. WARNING: This girl has a soap-box or two to stand on. I've heard people dis her for using the stage to push an agenda. I say fuck 'em! If her "agenda" is all about deconstructing gender, class, race and sexual orientation, while making me piss my pants, I say "Preach on sister!"

Golaughsay "right on" a few times it'll do you some good. BRIAN BRAIT

Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Thursday, March 13th, 7:30pm, Tickets available through Ticketmaster or at the box office, $30