HAPPENINGText: Lisa Radon

Portland Fashion Week had its share of showstopping moments: Emily Ryan’s architectural honeycomb dress, IDOM’s black trapeze cocktail dress with an open back cut down well below the waist, Kate Towers’ cascading floor-length rose tulle gown, Sameunderneath’s runway theater. The first sustainable fashion week in the US,

Portland Fashion Week
Kate Towers

Portland Fashion Week 2007 was six nights of runway shows in a shipyard on the Willamette River (with 5-10 designers each night) plus panel discussions, and pre- and after-parties. It featured dozens of Portland designers as well as sustainable fashion labels like Del Forte Denim from San Francisco and Lara Miller from Chicago.

Portland has hundreds of independent fashion, jewelry, and accessories designers and many small boutiques. There are high-end designers like Anna Cohen, Liza Rietz, and Jess Beebe for Linea, streetwear lines like Sameunderneath and Hecklewood, and avant-garde designers like Emily Ryan and Leanimal. Portland has a remarkably vibrant and intertwined community of independent fashion designers who are mutually supportive.

On the runway there were some lines that were more mainstream than high-end: t-shirt dresses, a-line skirts, and standard cotton sundresses. But there were many designers making strong, directional statements.

Many of these designers are part of a loose collective called The Collections. Most produce very limited edition or even one-of-a-kind pieces (often tailored to the wearer) with influences ranging from Chloe under Phoebe Philo to Threeasfour to Buckminster Fuller. Their work ranges from a rigorous minimalism to a nostalgic and naive femininity.

Portland Fashion Week
Jess Beebe

A few of The Collections designers showed fall 07. Linea by Jess Beebe did a brilliantly minimal collection, her only flourish the exposed (inside-out) brass zippers on stripped-down boiled wool jumpers and mini-dresses like the mini-dress in black whose cuffed six inch hem formed great pockets.

Portland Fashion Week
Liza Rietz

Liza Rietz showed elegant statement-making pieces like a long, dove-grey high-waist suspendered skirt with oversized, draped pockets and a great charcoal circle coat that looked like a kimono jacket.

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