Dangit: Twice in a row I've had to miss the annual apparel graduate show held by the Art Institute of Portland. Last year I was out of town, and this year, well... note the theme of this week's issue, and our event picks for this Saturday night. It's a bummer, though, because the AI shows I have attended over the years are some of the best fashion show experiences I've had in Portland. Not only are they fantastic previews of some of the designers that go on to become important contributors to Portland's apparel culture, they're just fun. The student designers are, for the most part, not yet bothered by the practical hurdles of making a living in fashion design, and these collections seem to have an added dash of joie de vivre.

Granted, some of these graduates are hitting the ground running with their own design businesses, or under the employ of large companies in Portland and beyond. And even if I am projecting just a little bit, check out a sample of titles for the collections being presented at this year's show, titled A Feast for the Eyes: There's Cora Poole's Darkness Defined: A Noir Lexicon, Velia Salinas' Ghetto Blastin' Sounds, and Eddie Shander's Medieval Punk, for example. Yet despite such apparent creative exuberance, I wouldn't expect a scene of amateurish statement pieces. In my experience, AI has turned out students whose collections are informed by an education not only in pattern drafting and construction technique, but with an understanding of marketing and appealing to a certain customer, resulting in pieces that could walk right off the runway.

This year the main event will be preceded by a silent auction as well as Cocoa's Cuisine Couture, a show of clothing inspired by food, including a coffee filter-themed gown modeled by chef-to-the-stars Emily Crumpacker, whose credentials include feeding Leonardo DiCaprio on the set of such films as Body of Lies and Shutter Island. Continuing the food theme, the event is also a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank, and attendees are asked to donate two cans of food each. This is also the school's largest scholarship fundraiser, enabling the education of students across disciplines, including film and—lest we drop the theme—culinary arts, so feel free to bid on that trip to Cabo. (A Feast for the Eyes, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE MLK, Sat June 5, doors at 6 pm, $20-100)