Heading to the fashion shows at Vigor Shipyards each year has become a mile marker in my fashion life.  For what seems like the millionth years in a row, I made my way past the massive mounds of concrete and machines through the sky high double doors into the circus of red carpets, vendors hawking goods, floral installations, and more high heels in one spot than any other time in Portland.

The opening night of FashioNXT had an unusual theme this year. Always one to hit it from a new angle, producer Tito Chowbury synced with the US Philippines Society bringing in the Philippine Ambassador, designers, and (judging by the proud looks and standing ovations in the crowd), several fans all from the islands. 

Prior to the runway show, First Lady Nance Hales (wearing local line Moontess) introduced the Mayor and others to speak on the collaboration between the Philippines and FashioNXT. *During this portion, I strained to hear, but a variety of rude jerks in the audience made that impossible.

Designer Anthony Cruz Legarda

Once the shows began the audience saw nothing a typical Portlander would wear, but they did see drama. For each pass of looks from David Tupaz (whose celeb client list includes Kris Kardashian and Goldie Hawn) I repeated the following phrase to myself, “Like sands in the hourglass, these are the days of our lives.” His standout pieces to me were his floor-length opera coats, particularly the one with big bell Balenciaga sleeves.

Next up designer, Anthony Cruz Legarda showed resort wear pieces made from handwoven textiles. While not nearly as dramatic as the other collections in the night, a standout duo was the matching bride and groom looks shown perfect for an exotic beach destination wedding. Designer Alan Del Rosario also has an impressive client list (my celeb girl crush Drew Barrymore amongst them), and while some gowns sung like the strapless ball gown with full striped skirt, one angry scribble at the bottom of my notes sums up my main critique, “Rip off that freaking tulle.” Once again, tulle stirs up trouble.

Designer Frances Libiran

Finally, fresh off his press high from dressing this month’s Miss World winner, Frances Libiran provided the epic finale. With more shiny bling than this city has ever seen, each stunning look that came down the runway made me gasp a little. The beginning chiffon frocks had hand cut mother of pearl shapes sewn into patterns, his structured woven shoulders came from a pineapple derived textile somehow turned glamorous, and the finale black gown that left the crowd in awe took a month of handstiching to create.

Now that’s the true definition of couture everybody.

Tonight’s shows include the annual Up/NXT emerging designer competition along with collections from Yane Mode, Becky Ross, Atelier by Kathryn Matsuura, and MTCostello. For tickets and info head to FashioNXT.net

*Some Basic Rules on Fashion Show Etiquette:
-You are not the star, stay off the runway.  Walk on the sides of it so footprints don’t dirty it up before the show even starts.
-Once the show has started you stay in your seat until the end. Do not get up mid show to go buy a drink or head to the bathroom. The shows are under an hour, deal with it. When you get up you ruin photos for press and designers.
-When our Mayor, or anyone is up there talking, some of us want to hear, so be polite and be quiet.
-Loudly stating your opinion on the models bodies is incredibly rude, do not do it.