IT'S JANUARY, so don’t be surprised to find yourself engrossed in the winter doldrums of sobriety resolutions and austerity budgets. For most designers, however, this time of year is a much-needed calm before the storm of spring/summer collections. Many are bundled up in their warmer layers while adding finishing touches to their colorful, vibrant warm-weather clothes; among them is influential boutique Mabel & Zora, which will be launching its newest house-line collection, Tiffany Bean Designs, at the Fade to Light runway show (Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, Wed Feb 24, 8 pm, $10-55, all ages).
Like many showing at this event, Tiffany Bean (Mabel & Zora's owner/designer) will have a mix of capsule and collection pieces that will be available in her shop in March and April. We interviewed Bean to get more details about her design inspirations, styling components, and sensibilities.
MERCURY: What inspired this collection?
TIFFANY BEAN: This collection is inspired by my daughter, Frances, and the joy of being a five-year-old girl. She is full of the adventure, excitement, and wonder I love so much. For me, the collection relishes the loveliness of being a girl. It was also inspired by Wes Anderson movies, because I love the sets, styling, and layers of patterns on top of patterns. We did a lot of print mixing with this collection—and that came from watching his movies.
How did you decide your color story, patterns, and themes for this collection?
Bonnie—our manager at Mabel & Zora, my dear friend, and co-designer for the line—and I are pattern-crazy! So we just started looking for fabrics in prints that we loved, and fell in love with this peach daisy print. Things just evolved from there. We were both on a Wes Anderson kick at the time and could both imagine characters in his movies wearing this collection. I can also just see my daughter, Frances, as a character in a movie of his. She has such a unique and larger-than-life personality! It all fit together and went with the new styles we were buying for the shop. It just felt right to us.
What do you look for in a garment?
I look for quality fabric and construction, flattering fit, and overall design. I tend to be drawn more to vintage styles, and love mixtures of luxurious fabrics and patterns.
Fade to Light requires a video from each designer to accompany their runway show; these videos typically capture the "soul" of their company or collection. Can you give us any hints about your video?
I'm so excited about it! I don't want to give it away, but it's our own little movie that leads into the collection. We've scouted set locations all over Portland, and I can say it's a real family affair!
As for myself, I'm really looking forward to checking out the new ready-to-wear garments from Tiffany Bean Design. Stylistically, I anticipate a collection that balances professional, feminine sensibilities with a pattern-forward flair that transitions from day to evening seamlessly. Bean is well known for her attention to construction and a careful eye for silhouette. In the category of boutique house-lines, this company is a looking glass for customers seeking a more direct connection to the source of their apparel. The newly remodeled Mabel & Zora boutique can be found in the heart of the Pearl District and curates not only Bean's own designs, but those of many other independent Portland-based manufacturers.
And before I sign off for this week, I just wanted to mention that it's an honor to be contributing to the Mercury's fashion column. Contemplating the greater purpose of these articles, and the huge shoes that former fashion columnist Marjorie Skinner leaves behind, it feels necessary to outline my goals as an enthusiast of independent manufacturing. In my future work, I hope to highlight brands that are making a difference in our city; to enrich our understanding of manufacturing techniques, inspirations, and challenges; to encourage support of ethical production; and most of all, to expand the platform for the cascade of designers, photographers, make-up artists, hair stylists, set stylists, and models that make Portland's fashion scene so impactful. I'm not an "all-seeing eye," so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, feedback, or updates about fashion happenings!
For more on Tiffany Bean Designs see tiffanybean.com or visit Mabel & Zora, 748 NW 11th.