THE PORTLAND WINTER of 2012-2013 already has at least one claim to fame: It is the densest winter of lingerie fashion shows in recent memory. Whatever mysterious motive is behind it, Portland seems to have gotten a bug for this particular brand of runway presentations. Obviously there is the usual draw of scantily clad beauties (that you don't even have to stock up on dollar bills for), but the cheesy, lewd route is not how the Portland fashion scene works. The lingerie presentations that have been cropping up since December are showcases of innovatively designed pieces from independent designers, either brought to us exclusively by tasteful local businesses like Lille Boutique, or, increasingly, designed and manufactured in the Portland region.
This week brings us to the final lingerie event of this streak (that we know of), the cleverly named Unmentionable. A new endeavor from the producers behind the popular outdoor Alley 33 summertime fashion show (Siren Nation's December Carson and Mag-Big's Cassie Ridgway), this first-time winter lingerie edition also gets a hand from backstage manager and Mercury MOD blogger Elizabeth Mollo, as well as Mercury account executive Marissa Sullivan on emcee duty.
And, as if lingerie weren't a sufficient motivator in its own right, Unmentionable is also going to be a one-stop for any Valentine's Day-related shopping you may have on the agenda, with vendors hawking everything from chocolate to dildos. We tracked down Ridgway recently to give us a better idea of what to anticipate. Unmentionable: A Lingerie Exposition, The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell, Thurs Feb 7, 8 pm, $10
MERCURY: How did you decide to do a show focused on lingerie specifically?
CASSIE RIDGWAY: My co-producer, December Carson, has always wanted to do a lingerie show. With Alley 33, we have an incredible spectrum of designers, but it is a little challenging to add lingerie to the program because our runway is outdoors on SE Hawthorne. It is also the case that my shop has a lot of local lingerie designers in store, and they're all so awesome. So... over a bottle of wine, December Carson, Elizabeth Mollo, and I decided to put together a show singularly focused on lingerie. If you've met my co-producers, you know that getting the three of us in a room usually results in some big undertaking or another.
Which came first, the month of the event or the Valentine's Day tie-in?
Valentine's Day just made sense to us. We have an incredible lineup of vendors at this show, and it will be the perfect place to get everything you want to give your valentine, including jewelry from Betsy and Iya, Missionary Chocolates, extra saucy gifts from She Bop, and of course, intimate apparel from independent designers.
How did you curate the designer lineup? What were your criteria?
We wanted to include both independent designers and independent boutiques in this show. Lille, Mag-Big, and Corset Connection are bringing select pieces to complement the amazing talent of Portland's best lingerie designers. Make It Good, Under the Root, Allihalla, Aniela Parys, and R.A.W. Textiles are each so different, too. I can't wait to see the crowd response to different aesthetic elements.
Are there any unifying themes given to the designers in terms of season?
The awesome thing about underwear is that it often transcends the "seasons." Its primary aesthetic tasks are to make you feel sexy and comfortable underneath all your winter wear. (Although, Mag-Big is going to feature some high-waisted wool panties from designer Una Rose.)
What else should people be excited about?
We have a penchant for packing the Secret Society Ballroom to its brim (see: the Alley 33 clothing swap fundraisers). It is truly a special venue. Folks can enjoy cocktails while doing all of their Valentine's shopping at our vending tables.