"I feel like locally we [designers] can get away with things that you can't when you're just another name," says Gretchen Jones of her push to bring her womenswear line, MothLove, to the national playing field.
A designer who's exhibited leaps of maturity in the past few years' collections, it's clear that Jones means serious business. She's squared with herself, recognizing that her talent is draping, and her newest work reflects that with a concentration on silhouettes that flutter along a woman's frame in crêpe de Chine, hovering at the borderland between lingerie and outerwear. Likewise her business plan is a focused attack, bombarding a list of carefully vetted retail targets with several rounds of unforgettable art cards and posters.
If you're familiar with only one item from Jones' past repertoire, it might well be the feather-embellished headbands that reached a pitch of near ubiquity last year, and which she now recalls, laughing, that she eventually "hated making." But they sold, and selling her work is what Jones is determined to do, striving to produce locally and sustainably (a term she identifies with over "green" or "eco," which refer more to fabric choice than to the bigger-picture implications of energy use and longevity) without letting those parameters preclude reaching a clientele that exceeds the bounds of Portland local-fashion enthusiasts. This not only means cleaning up common oversights like crummy zippers or neglecting to include the legally required laundering tags, but also takes more than just the "time and fabric" into account in her pricing, requiring an objective evaluation of whether the quality justifies the price.
This Saturday, August 15, Emily Baker of Sword + Fern will host a trunk show of the MothLove fall collection, called Stone Carved Daydream, including some of Baker's own jewelry pieces designed to complement Jones' work. Among the pieces (priced at 30 percent off—including custom orders—and starting at $70) are lingerie rompers in sheer black, some subtly ruffled. These rompers are the closest in direction to Jones' upcoming work for spring, for which she is making the trek to Las Vegas' POOL trade show at the end of this month—the trunk show is meant, in part, to help get her there.
Once she does, it will be up to buyers to pick up on the subtle thoughtfulness in her designs, which she has limited to three neutral color options: iron, coal, and bone. It's a testament to her philosophy that to be a responsible designer is to create pieces that will fold seamlessly into existing wardrobes and translate from season to season—and, one hopes, from state to state. MothLove trunk show, Sword + Fern, 811 E Burnside, #114, Sat Aug 15, 5-9 pm