For the second consecutive year, the Mercury is celebrating the advent of spring with "Installations," a fashion show showcasing emerging local design talent. Unlike most of the ever-increasing fashion events on Portland's calendar, Installations draws on a unique mix of original ventures and established lines. While the roster is dominated by exciting new lines that have never—or very rarely—been shown, it also provides a platform for more mature designers to exhibit their ongoing work in an unconventional presentation.

Beyond the models on the runway, Installations is characterized by its inclusion of standing exhibits created by the designers; whether sculpture or performance art, these stations allow the designers to further express their creations by drawing attention to their process and imaginations. The show's format also provides the audience with an opportunity to peruse the work more closely, rather than limiting the experience of viewing it to a fast-paced runway. We hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to attend this unique event, which also features the equally impressive talents of local musicians Tu Fawning; the world-class spinning skills of DJ Beyonda; the high-style visual designs of E*Rock; and the inherent charm of host Adam Arnold, a local and much beloved designer himself. In the meantime, this special pullout edition of the Mercury profiles the 12 designers who will present their work in the show—the audience will be invited to cast a vote on their favored line, the overall winner of which will receive a $1,000 check to invest in their business. So begin to familiarize yourself with each participant now, and enjoy a taste of what's to come.

Installations takes place on Sun April 20, Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell, doors 7 pm, show 8 pm, $10, 21+


Liz Spencer's Aiguille et Fil line focuses on dresses inspired by the photo archives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Andy Warhol, as well as street fashion in cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland. Rendered partially or completely in reclaimed and vintage material, the Linfield College graduate's designs belie the fact that Spencer is self-taught and has only been sewing for just over a year. Aiguille et Fil is available online at and by commission:


Meaning "sweet destiny" in Japanese, designer Allison Covington's Amai Unmei line (pronounced ah-mah-ee oon-may) takes its starting point at tsutsumi, the Japanese high art of wrapping. Using organic textures and modern updates on classic silhouettes, Covington's wrapping art is practiced on the body. Amai Unmei is available online at


Primarily a textile designer, Rio Wrenn has been working with rusting processes on silks for the past six years, recently expanding from a fine art point of view to fabric production. Drawn to natural processes, Wrenn also uses dyes of insect, earth, and plant sources. Wrenn's work has been shown primarily in art galleries; she is continuing an experiment with constructing the fabric into wearable pieces after a positive reception to an October exhibition at the Rake Art Gallery. Product inquiries can be addressed to


Anisa Makhoul's casual, wearable Makool line is grounded in her background as a fine art student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and her love of and dedication to nature. A resident of Portland since 2000, Makhoul has worked with industry experts from local companies Nike and Adidas to produce the line locally, and what started as a part-time gig selling pieces at the Saturday Market has blossomed into a business whose product is sold internationally. Makool is available locally at Johnny Sole (815 SW Alder) and online at


The work of Janeane Marie, a onetime intern of eco-fashion star Anna Cohen, and current junior at the Art Institute of Portland, is marked by simplicity and thoughtfulness. Committed to designing and producing apparel that leaves a light footprint on the environment, Marie is also drawn to minimalism in design, and often looks to inspiration outside of the fashion world, in nature, music, and literature, and she carries a sketch book with her to mark down ideas as they come.


Descended from a line of German sewers, ElizaBeth Rohloff began her career at the age of eight, making clothes for her dolls. Since then, she's worked in theater costuming and as a teacher, and her line of hats and apparel are meant to augment the individuality of the wearer. Rohloff was also an early adopter of a green approach in design, utilizing every scrap of fabric, producing locally, and when possible using sustainable fabrics. ElizaBeth Rohloff is available locally at John Helmer Haberdasher (969 SW Broadway), Physical Element (1124 NW Lovejoy), Moxie (2400 E Burnside), Chapter Four (4702 N Albina), and by appointment at her design lab ( for more information).


Designed by Ruth Waddy, Ruth is a new line of one-of-a-kind special occasion dresses. In keeping with the modern design world's tendency toward sustainable practices, Ruth is made using recycled, reclaimed, and locally purchased materials. With a degree in costume design from Trinity University in Texas, Waddy moved to Portland in 2001, and has since done costuming work for Milagro Theatre, and for artists' performance projects. Ruth is available by commission:


"Good girls who play with bad boys" is the theme designer Chelsea Erhart gave to her line's spring/summer '08 collection, emphasizing pieces that can be styled demurely or provocatively. Featuring everything from jumpers to stirrup leggings, Erhart's signature color is a golden yellow, and often bears embellishments birthed from frequent collaborations with local print houses (including Foyer and Hart Mind Soul). Erhart is available at Foundation Garments, Inc. (2712 NE Alberta) or


Jewelry designer Jesseca McCloskey, who was brought up by the ocean, has an eye toward the legends of pirate chests and shipwrecks full of treasure. Paper Treasure's season-less pieces are assembled out of a continually renewing pile of collected vintage materials. Broken bits of old castoffs, beads, and charms find new life when reinvented as beautifully repurposed, timeless jewelry. Paper Treasure is available locally at Xtabay (2515 SE Clinton), Olio United (1028 SE Water), and Motokitty (1117 SE Division), and online at


Already known to many, Rachel Gorenstein's Rachel Mara line is classy and sexy, with this spring's collection taking a page from Albertus Seba's 1731 "Cabinet of Natural Curiosities," an illustrated scientific study of nature. This translates into a focus on technique and beauty, with butterfly and floral prints, details rendered in sequins and sapphires against a swath of silk and chiffon. Rachel Mara is available locally at Moulé (1225 NW Everett).


A collaboration between Gretchen Jones (who also has her own line of apparel and accessories, Moth Love) and Melody Geer (whose Little Bit's Apparel focuses on everyday pieces like go-to hoodie tunics), Freyja is a balance between the high fashion aspiration of Jones' aesthetic and the streetwear of Geer's. The name, of course, is borrowed from the pagan goddess of love, beauty, and fertility.


Designer Julia Blackburn (whose day job is as an art director for Wieden + Kennedy) is interested in telling a story with the pieces that constitute her line, Dust. Whether it be unusual mixes of colors and patterns, the image of a tattered ballerina costume, or highly textural meditations rendered in fabric, the pieces are memorable and meaningful, often revealing the process through exposed seams and threads, and viscerally evocative through ripped and hand-dyed fabrics. Dust is available by commission: