Night two of FashionXT was a time to measure the growth of designers. Four of the seven designers (Grishley, Lizz Basinger, Moontess and Becky Ross) showing were returning from their appearance in last year’s Catapult: Emerging Designer competition including winner Amanda Grisham. It’s not often an audience can see a large group of the same designers all show together twice and I heard hub bub of people excited to see these ladies return to the runway and see what a year can do.
FashionXT Show and Market Location
Vigor Industrial Shipyard, Swan Island
5555 N. Channel Ave.
Portland OR 97217
Designer: Grishley by Amanda Grisham
What I loved: The entire collection. After voting for Grisham to win last year’s Emerging Designer competition and profiling her for our January issue, I was anxiously crossing my fingers she would avoid the dreaded “Sophomore Slump.” Instead Grisham turned out a beautifully crafted collection still incorporating her signature use of Pendleton prints and wool, but expanding to additional solid colors in the line of cute and flirty skirts, dresses and tops. There was growth in her designs as she moved into pieces that flatter different silhouettes and while her last collection almost bordered on overworked, this one felt effortlessly cool.
Hoping to be helpful: Not a whole lot, the styling was even spot on. Well done.
Designer: Lizz Basinger
What I loved: Anything with piping and hints of western wear. This is the area Basinger has real potential. When one adorable western inspired dress came down the runway, I thought to myself that I know hundreds of girls who would wear that dress. Basinger has only begun to explore this design route and I would massively encourage her to continue in this area.
Hoping to be helpful: The high-waisted skirt Basinger does seems to be her trademark. However, it isn’t terribly flattering. The majority of women want to take attention away from their mid-section and appear longer and leaner, but the cut of the skirts drew your eye right to the belly button and created an odd proportion on the model. It seems time to move away from that skirt and on with some of the new design ideas she had for this collection.
What I loved: Any woman who has worn a swimsuit knows that they are often poorly made with straps that don’t stay up or bra cups that feel as if they’re trying to torment you. Moontess designer Mihaela Ciupei knows how to construct a good suit. Her Miami friendly looks, with a hint of Bond Girl, were expertly put together to sustain all vacation frolicking.
Hoping to be helpful: The suit shapes are adorable and while the prints work for the tropics, I am curious how they do for every day Portlanders. It seems a little off target for our scene. Additionally, I think the scarves and things aged up the fun suits some, I would ditch them in the future so they don’t distract from the main attraction.
Designer: Raylene Designs
What I loved: Hmmm, I like the pink color.
Hoping to be helpful: As a nice person who doesn’t enjoy saying negative things I still must be blunt and say I just did not care for this collection. Beyond that, from an industry perspective I have no idea who is wearing these jumpsuits with buttons tragically placed right on the breasts in those colors. The idea of the color blocking is cool; it just needs a more lux feeling fabric in an appealing color way and fashion forward silhouettes.
Designer: Nelli Millard
What I loved: My notes for Nelli Millard say, “An episode of Golden Girls where Blanche decides to design a line.” And that’s not entirely a bad thing. Millard’s aesthetic is over the top, a little gaudy or Snookie-esque and sometimes borderline tacky, but those people who are into all the sequins and animal prints loved it. There was one toned down suit I thought was particularly nice for a wider audience and think there is a possibility there of expansion.
Hoping to be helpful: There’s going to be a lot of people who do not love this. Millard just needs to find her niche clientele and keep running with it or think about toning down the Jersey factory as she did in the tamer looks to reach out to a wider audience.
Designer: Becky Ross
What I loved: In a testament to reduce, reuse, recycle Ross created an entire collection out of all the leftover fabrics she had from previous lines. It forced her to get crafty and produced some interesting results. Her standout pieces were the series of impressively tailored jackets.
Hoping to be helpful: While I think the idea is cool, I wish I had gotten to see what Ross would do with having started from scratch. Some of the fabrics were lining materials and seemed too shiny to be for everyday wear and I fear the limited materials impinged on some of her skill.