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October 25th, 2007

Portland Fashion Week: Take 1

As noted in our weekend in review, which is what all of us shoe and fashion lovers look forward to at the beginning of our work week (quite possibly the only thing we look forward to come Monday morning!), October 19 marked the beginning of Portland’s answer to the haute fashion weeks in places like London, New York and Los Angeles.  Yours truly could not possibly allow a week of local brilliance pass her by without getting just a glimpse of the creativity that spawns from the amazing streets of Portland, Ore.  I searched the Portland Fashion Week site and chose wisely as to which night I wanted to attend.  With such names as A Broken Spoke, Dayna Pinkham, Kate Towers and Holly Stadler topping the list of 10 for “The Collections” night, how could I pass up such an evening of martinis, conversation and fashion?   Monday October 22 would be the night to tantalize my senses with visions of what could one day be blessing my lonely wooden hangers suspended naked behind my closed closet door.

The Scene

Although the place which would hold the week long event was more than cool, for PFW, which international magazine Book Moda boasts as “The most sustainable fashion in the whole of the U.S.A., if not the world,” it was sure hard to get there in an ecological fashion.  Public transportation didn’t even recognize the address as one that existed within Oregon!  Therefore, if you wanted to get there a car or taxi would be the only way to travel—unless of course you don’t mind riding your bike for miles from the nearest bus stop in your $700 Jimmy Choo’s and $3,000 Dolce and Gabbana dress.

The Event

I waited (with bated breath) on my folding chair perched upon a makeshift platform, pen and paper in hand.  The lights dimmed to reveal a silhouette of the first model waiting patiently to christen the catwalk for the night’s event.  The crowd fell to a hush as the music began and the lights exposed the first piece. Then came the walk; the painful, painful walk of what would have otherwise been a lovely ensemble.  This would turn out to be a sporadic paradigm throughout the showcased event.  Allow me to explain.

Maybe, maybe this is my critical mind working overtime as another performing artist of a different kind, but the models are there in fact to perform by walking down the catwalk and presenting these beautiful pieces to the audience.  Yes, it is a presentation and a performance.  There needs to be a connection made between the performer and the audience and though there were some phenomenal models on the catwalk that night, there were also some less than stellar performers which turned out to be a disservice to the exquisite ensembles they were showing.

The models are the vehicles for these pieces that take so much time and creative energy—not to mention marketing.  Yet there were a few models that made me squirm, and I am not speaking of their aesthetic beauty, I am speaking of their performance.  There was one in particular that simply looked bored, like this was a waste of her time.  Her energy, or rather lack thereof, completely took away from the garments she was wearing.  I felt as if I was completely invading her space by watching her walk. 
There was one woman whom every time she started walking down the aisle I felt compelled to call softly to her: “Slow down!  I would like to see what you are wearing!”  Maybe they shouldn’t give models Red Bulls to drink back stage.  There was another model who seemingly couldn’t move his head independently from his torso, making him look like he was wearing a doctor-prescribed invisible neck brace after an unfortunate night of martinis and steep stairways. Yet another model had the most horrid posture which she was either coached to or chose to exaggerate that was more than unflattering, it was painful.  She drastically pushed her hips forward and dropped her shoulders completely back, thus creating one of the most acute angles in her lower spine that I have ever seen—it made me ache just watching her.  Beyond that, it destroyed an otherwise beautiful dress that would have done so well with a normal posture creating the long, slender, feminine lines the piece was trying to illustrate.  Instead, she looked more like the missing piece to a well-dressed jigsaw puzzle, rather than a model revealing art.

As I was walking from the evening’s main event I couldn’t help but overhear other people’s comments about the exact same things.  Although I do feel that the night in-large was a great and successful event, Portland needs to, how can I say this, step it up.  We have incredible designers within the city limits as well as a fashion-savvy community that jumps at the chance to support and showcase these brilliant minds and the work they create.  Portland has steadily become recognized as a mecca for up and coming designers. If we want to hold our place on the national map of fashion, our events need to at least be of the same caliber as the other national venues, if not beyond.  Our unique designers deserve it.

Of course the night was not a complete bomb, quite the contrary actually.  Look for future entries which illustrate some of the many highlights of the night, as well as some pictures of the beauty that the designers in Portland create.  Did I happen to mention that I love this city?

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