In a city like Portland, the path to fashion has many routes. There’s the bigger-biz path of earning fancy degrees in fashion from OSU or The Art Institute, the make-things-for-myself-and-my-friends way of learning to sew small-scale through classes from Modern Domestic, Fabric Depot, or PCC’s continuing education program, but we’re also lucky to have the in between level from Portland Sewing’s Fashion Forward program.

Now in its fourth year, the program developed by longtime instructor Sharon Blair focuses on helping aspiring independent designers learn how to sew while also taking introductory business classes preparing them for launching their own small lines upon graduation. At the culmination of the program they show off their pieces at Blair’s Fashion Forward runway show.

This weekend the latest crop of grads are ready to turn their baby collections loose for the public—and you can see the new class for yourself Saturday night at Refuge PDX. In addition to supporting our ever-growing indie talent pool, proceeds from the Fashion Forward Show benefit Portland Sewing’s Fashion Design Scholarship for teens.  The scholarship prepares Portland-area high schools juniors and seniors for a career in the fashion industry. Past scholarship winners have used their work at Portland Sewing to get accepted to London’s Central St. Martin’s College of Design (FYI: That is a very fancy fashion school).

Fashion Forward Show
Saturday, April 12
Doors 7:30pm, Show: 8 pm
RefugePDX, 116 SE Yamhill
Purchase Tickets Here 

Designer Bios

Jessica Caldwell for Machine. Modern design, technology, and motorcycles are just a few sources of Caldwell’s inspiration. Her line is a collection of “urban, attitude-infused street wear for badass women," she says. Caldwell has a background in web design and programming and recently completed a design internship with Bridge & Burn.  She is currently in New York collaborating on a fashion spread for her new collection.

Rachael Cruthirds for Drift. Cruthirds graduated in 2013 from George Fox University with a degree in fashion merchandising.  She now works for Mallet Bespoke Furniture and interns with designer Holly Stalder of Haunt.  Her line “showcases dresses with feminine silhouettes, elegant fabrics and bold details,” she says.

Claire Doody for Copper Union. Doody was born in New York City and grew up in Seattle. She attended Western Washington University where she studied costume design and fiber arts with a focus on construction and fiber creation. Through her retail background, she claims, “a solid grasp on what women are looking for in the fit and fabric of their clothing.” Her experience includes working as an assistant to designer Andrew Harmon in New York City, and designing jewelry for brands including Urban Outfitters, Torrid, Hot Topic and The Limited.

Lucy Egging for Whiskey Ginger, a line of American sportswear she calls "dresses and separates for daytime to drinks." Egging says she is ready to pair her business savvy and manufacturing knowledge from her day job with the garment design and construction skills she has learned at Portland Sewing. She is working on her business plan and is lining up backers

Stephanie Hutton for SKPDX. She calls her line a "Uniform for Living”.  It is for the "emerging young woman who is ready to take on the world."  Hutton works for Nordstrom while she interns for StudioSKB apparel.  She hopes to enter Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City this Fall.

Christine Van Abkoude for Perilous Activity. Van Abkoude’s early apparel work in lingerie and costume brings a provocative edge to the activewear she designs today.  Perilous Activity "bridges the gap between stylish and edgy street clothes with high-performance activewear for the woman who wants to express herself through her body and what she does with it."  Van Abkoude now works as a pattern maker for Carson Footwear.

Jessica Van Hulle for The Lady Jessica.  Van Hulle is from the San Francisco Bay Area, Calif. She has a B.F.A. in Illustration from the Academy of Art University. Van Hulle has been designing costumes, lingerie and women's shoes since 2008 and is now launching her own apparel, art and lifestyle brand.  “All of the pieces in my line conspire to give you a stunning hourglass silhouette from the office to an evening out,” she says.

Lisa Silveira for Wandering Muse.  One of Silveira's greatest loves is travel, from which she draws her inspiration.  She studied at an art school in Florence, Italy then later interned with an Italian fashion designer.

From this she developed a passion for Italian fashion, knitwear, textiles, and “La Bella Figura”- a way of life emphasizing beauty, good image, aesthetics and gracious behavior.  “Spending time living abroad out of a suitcase inspired me to start creating garments that are convertible in unexpected ways,” she says.  “Wandering Muse is a collection that is ever-transforming.”

Every other Tuesday: Home and garden ideas, fashion trends, stories, and images from Portland's rich design scenes. (See an example!)