Highlights included Taruc, WWJJD, Bad Wolf Clothier, and Bryce Black.

Last week’s winter installment of the crowd-pleasing Fade to Light fashion show proved, once again, that Portland is a hotbed for independent talent. In the way some of the city's other long-running shows have figured out their place in this scene (Open Season often highlights the tried and true old guard, The Art Institute show is for graduating design students, FashioNXT loves its Project Runwayers, etc.) this show has begun to find its niche in the local market hosting emerging local designers in a group setting.

Overall, the production of the show continues to strengthen under the helm of local producer Elizabeth Mollo. At each installment of the biannual show, the lighting gets a little better, the bar lines are easier to get through, the ushers are quicker, and the crowds grow with word of mouth. Part of the success of this show is its ability to give designers the opportunity to show their overall aesthetic beyond their clothing. In the past that’s been things like designer Sharon Blair hacking her hair off on stage while her clothing strutted downstage or Bryce Black’s now infamous dance attack where the models were actually dancers who did a joyful display of booty shaking to Beyoncé tunes.

Of course, the hard thing about these shows is the ability to top yourself time and time again, and it’s simply not possible to always have a hair chop, stunning violinist, or some magical moment occur on cue. That being said, I did walk away wishing something in the multimedia area had blown me away a bit more. I think I’ve been spoiled. Additionally, as this show continues to grow in popularity and designers clamor to get on board, the producer might need to face the task of editing. The show has reached its capacity as far as length with some of the standing patrons getting fidgety after balancing in heels on the bouncy floor so long, and frankly, some of the designer collections ran too long.

But the most exciting thing about this show is seeing local talent mature, so let’s talk about what we loved.

  • Bad Wolf Clothier, still a baby of a line by all rights, delivered some of the most beautiful and interesting menswear I’ve seen in Portland.
  • New line WWJJD with one of my long time favorites Joshua Buck as half of the design duo also hit the ball out of the park in the men’s realm using casual street wear textiles to create new takes on everyday outfits (plus some crowd-pleasing male-models-in-undies action).
  • Bryce Black’s show opening white ensemble, both stole my heart with its swishy draped knit and inspired me to take up Pilates instantly so I can one day wear a side abdomen peekaboo number.
  • Local model Keely Taruc debuted her first collection with two particularly inspiring looks, a sizzling mesh two-piece and a full-length take on a gown with alligator embellishments up the backside. For a “newbie” Taruc’s fit and styling was particularly impressive giving some of the strongest head to toe ideas of the night.
  • Finally, Michelle Lesniak’s surprising foray into resort territory with swimsuit bottoms and cover-ups came in an undeniably strong color pallet ending the show on a bold hued note.

Overall, an intriguing peek into the current snapshot of emerging local fashion. Fade to Light is our reality fashion show with an episode every six months. I’m already looking forward to the next.


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