Last night my brain went into autopilot as I steered my way to the Vigor Shipyards on Swan Island for what felt like millionth time and in my mind will always be called Portland Fashion Week (new name FashionXT). The sense of déjà vu was overwhelming as I pulled up to the secret self assigned parking spot I’ve hoarded for years and headed through the massive entrance to a shiny unfamiliar crowd far different than the faces at most local shows brought out in part to the television names and big budget production.
The thing about FashionXT that should be acknowledged is it’s slick. The transformed warehouse space looks fantastic with decorations hung from the ceiling, a spectacular stage production in place and even floral installations around the furniture in the VIP lounge. It’s easy to see why some of the fancy business people that might not come out to the rowdier indie shows in town, flock to this classy cousin with velvet ropes and even a mention in the current issue of TIME magazine. But all the glitz and glam aside, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of what we saw on the runway.
Designer: Intel Personal Cloud Concept collection by Project Runway’s Seth Aaron and Viktor Luna.
What I liked: This was a fun experimental play on fashion by using elements of Intel to play into the collection. Not much of it was really wearable (minus cool long black pieces by Luna), but it wasn’t meant to be.
Hoping to be helpful: Seth Aaron has a penchant for covering up his models mouths. Last year with masks, this year with duct tape. Is that because he doesn’t want anyone talking back to him? Because I don’t see how that fits into the collection.
Designer: Reborn by Soham Dave
What I liked: The philosophy behind Soham Dave is inspiring. The company uses traditional Indian methods to make eco-friendly hand woven and printed cloth while also creating women entrepreneurs in different spots in the country. The chain of good just keeps going.
Hoping to be helpful: While I massively admire the company itself, to be blunt the clothing is not very fashionable. A series of mainly basics that look often like things that can already be purchased in stores without a consumer knowing the story of Soham Dave, I worry the items would be easily passed over. Items that were more interesting (such as the pretty blue shirt dress) stood out more and those pieces seem more appropriate for this venue.
*And, I don’t want to get into it, but the shoes just plain didn’t go.
Designer: Atelier Exclusively Yours
What I liked: I am definitely a fan of Japanese inspired clothing and the Japanese designer Kathryn Matsuura regularly visits Kyoto to find her fabrics. One particular kimono inspired dress was lovely.
Hoping to be helpful: There’s a lot to cover here. First off, the name Atelier Exclusively Yours means “Workshop” or “Studio Space” Exclusively Yours, which doesn’t make a ton of sense and is too long. Second, though some of the fabrics were pretty, there was basically no cohesion to this line. A collection shown at a fashion show is supposed to be a family of items designed together unified by concept, fabrics and silhouettes. This was a series of many outfits that were all different colors and shapes leaving the audience very disjointed. To get this line to appeal to viewers it needs to refocus on concept and fit.
Designer: Viktor Luna
What I loved: All of it. After being impressed with Luna’s use of prints on last season of Project Runway, I was thrilled to see him further that strength by creating his own prints for this spring line out of photographs he took of Mexico City and New York. Luna summed up his collection to me with the words, “Dark, Sensuality, Elegant and Modern.” His tailoring and craftsmanship of both women’s and menswear was only one-upped by his thoughtful use of embellishments achieving a level of skill impressive of someone twice his age.
Hoping to be helpful (off topic): Luna told me the long navy gown was designed for Heidi Klum to wear to the Emmy’s and at the last moment she backed out and wore this instead. You chose wrong Heidi!