Last Friday's Strut fashion show included a crop of Portland's burgeoning apparel designers bearing familiar names: Sameunderneath, Magalí Corzo, Leanimal—all known to those who follow local fashion. But one name on that roster, Rachel Mara, was an unexpected addition; the Strut show is the first time the line's designer, Rachel Gorenstein, has shown her work in Portland. And she's a local talent you'll want to get to know, for two reasons: Her clothing has a youthful sophistication and great fit, and she's one of the owners behind Moulé (1225 NW Everett), a formidable new presence on Portland's retail front.
Originally from Winnipeg, Rachel's mother Beverley Gorenstein started the small Canadian chain of Moulé stores, and when you visit the Portland location (the first in the US), you'll see her black-and-white visage gracing the front window. But before following in her mother's footsteps, Rachel Gorenstein took a different route: She studied art, and became an art director working in advertising. She moved to Portland three years ago, after having lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco, when her husband joined the team at Wieden + Kennedy.
Along the way, Gorenstein gradually sunk into the world of fashion. She began by redesigning a line her mother had created, and has been teaching herself through trial and error since. Opened about five weeks ago, Moulé is now the premier supplier of Rachel Mara Designs in town; the line is one of the strongest in the women's wear department at all of the Moulé locations, although she has also sold to fine boutiques as far flung as Tokyo and Paris, and has even seen her line in Saks and Fred Segal stores. New Moulé is the kind of store you could spend an hour in without noticing, poring over the sleek vases and dishware sets, smelling the selection of candles with unusual scents like grapefruit and tobacco, trying on the designs by Mara or Catherine Malandrino, plus a small selection of shoes by Chie Mihara and panty sets by Eberjey.
Canadians have a lot to be envious of: universal healthcare, liberal policies on marijuana and gay marriage, maple syrup—but with Rachel Mara and Moulé in Portland, we can all be a little bit less jealous.
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