I WAS a summer bride, year before last, and I remember well the spring season of stressful decision-making. So hopefully this column is directed towards either the highly organized, or the premature-thinking aisle-bound dress-shopper.
Until finding themselves in the market, most women don't give much thought to bridalwear, and this is the first year in recent memory that the indie schedule of wedding-dress bonanza hasn't been kicked off by the English Dept.'s annual show. So it's worth putting it out there when a gown designer like Sunjin Lee operates out of a fifth-floor apartment in an otherwise unassuming SW Portland building without so much as a sandwich board.
You may, in fact, have heard of Lee, who has quickly captured the regional bridal world's attention, with her dresses appearing regularly in glossies like Portland Bride & Groom. Those editors knew a good thing when they saw it. Lee made her runway debut at the bridal showcase that was part of the rebooted Portland Fashion Week early last fall, and all who witnessed it were bowled over by designs that seemed light years ahead of the three-and-a-half actual years Lee has been pursuing her eponymous business.
A longtime hobbyist, Lee caught the bug after coming up empty in a search for her own wedding dress, and wound up making not one, but two for herself, including a painstakingly hand-beaded number (along with one store-bought dress, that brought her up to a total of three, and yes, she wore them all). Tellingly, her background is in architecture, and she is very attuned to the similarity of priorities between dresses and buildings: form, material, and proportion.
Lee's originally from Seoul, Korea, where there aren't many occasions to dress formally in western styles (she refers to traditional, waist-less formal Korean dresses as "silk bombs"), but Lee strikes an unmistakable balance between modernity and princess fantasy. So as you look around, bride, don't forget to look up. Sunjin Lee, by appointment, sunjinlee.com
• As part of the monthly Shop the Block, Adorn is throwing a trunk show for one of their favorites, Prairie Underground, with exclusive pieces available through the week, 10 percent off all new in-stock Prairie pieces, and a "gently used" Prairie section, plus refreshments. Adorn, 4120 NE Fremont, Wednesday, March 12, 4-8 pm
• The cluttered delight that is Flutter is hosting a second Thursday (also a thing?) art show featuring illustrator Corina Dross' portraits as well as her zine, Echo Chamber. Flutter, 3948 N Mississippi, Thursday, March 13, 5-8 pm
• Wildfang doesn't half-ass much, and their first anniversary is no exception. They're planning a two-part blowout, beginning with free beer and wine at their flagship store as they roll out yet another limited edition collab, this time with Petals and Peacocks. Part two moves over to the White Owl for bands (Hurry Up, The Ghost Ease) and DJ Hero Worship. There'll also be one-night-only discounts and the debut of—of course—a brand new cocktail called "The Wildfang." Wildfang, 1230 SE Grand, Friday, March 14, 5-8 pm, free; White Owl Social Club, 1305 SE 8th, 8 pm $3
• Tiny NE Alberta shop Amelia has a one-year birthday, too! Theirs is a bit more straightforward, with refreshments and 25 percent off storewide—but as a destination for locally manufactured apparel, it's not to be overlooked! Amelia, 2230 NE Alberta, Saturday, March 15, 5-9 pm
• Meet the makers: Lizard Lounge hosts the designers of the lines Primecut and Upper Metal Class for an afternoon social with Prosecco and appetizers, plus a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. Lizard Lounge, 1323 NW Irving, Saturday, March 15, noon-4 pm
• Vintage shop Half Pint is moving on up to the heavily foot-trafficked N Mississippi. They're inviting all to come help them break in the new space with refreshments, raffles, and a photo booth, too. (Maybe be prepared to leave with a pair of their vintage boots—also their specialty.) Half Pint, 3920 N Mississippi, Sunday, March 16, 2-6 pm