IT'S ASTONISHING to realize, but the Mercury is heading into preparations for its seventh annual spring fashion show! Over the years, this show has evolved in order to adapt its focus to a growing industry. Last year we debuted the "Open Season" model, named in reference to the variety of business practices employed by its design participants. Fashion weeks of the world at large may strictly adhere to seasonal directives, but many of the most valuable members of Portland's talent pool defy convention, debuting spring in spring and fall in fall, or by simply creating new work steadily over the course of the year. It seems contrary to the spirit of such a fiercely independent community to exclude anyone based on something as mundane as a production schedule, and thus the inclusive "open season" theme was born.

In 2011 we are repeating the concept, with one important modification: In contrast to last year's by-invitation-only participants, we are also welcoming submissions from any designer interested in being considered. Whether you're an established name already making a living in design, or you're new to the area, emerging, or a budding student, there's a place for you in the big picture that an event like Open Season creates. The submission process is particularly exciting as a means of discovering untapped design talent, and in turn providing growing lines valuable exposure to the market. (Not to mention the fact that we should probably consider charging the producers of Project Runway a finder's fee, having introduced both Leanne Marshall and Gretchen Jones on a Portland runway.)

We welcome submissions from apparel designers, but also from jewelry and accessory makers—as long as you're willing to put together head-to-toe looks for the runway (as always, experimental interpretations and theatrics are encouraged), you will be considered.

Submitting your portfolio is a snap: All we need are clear photographs representing a sample of your best work to date, accompanied by a succinct bio. Sketches, fabric swatches, and other materials are welcome, but please don't send in anything you need to be returned. Submissions can be dropped off or mailed to the Mercury offices (605 NE 21st, Ste. 200, Portland, OR 97232) or emailed to, and are due by 5 pm on Monday, March 14!

We hope you're as excited as we are to be part of Portland's most thrilling spring fashion event. Open Season will take place once again at the Bossanova Ballroom (722 E Burnside) on Friday, May 6. For more information on participation and submissions, see