Techno music: check. Beautiful people sitting runway-side: check. Non-toxic makeup on models: check. Some of the nation’s hottest eco-friendly fashion designers: check. FSC-certified wood on the runway: check. All expenses paid by sponsors so independent designers can strut their stuff: check. “Move fashion forward for a sustainable future”: check. Empowered yet? If not, just read on. Every one of the designers at Portland Fashion Week is my new hero. From my favorites on down, the world’s most eco- and people-friendly fashion in the world…
TOP 5 OVERALL
Leanimal describes itself (and most of these budding designers) so well, I’ll just let it speak. “Living in green savvy Portland, and becoming a creature of environment, the incorporation of eco-friendly materials has become a more recent evolution of the Leanimal line. While not 100% sustainable, the usage of these textiles such as hemp, bamboo and organic cottons is seen as a sort of necessity in today’s world and will implement them as much as possible.” Designer Leanne Marshall grabbed my No. 1 for these gorgeous dresses… and lots of them. All the goodness in this show made my week. She led with some of the season’s It moves: bright royal blue, short hemlines — and she took detailing around the neck (”built-in necklaces”) to the extreme. This line epitomizes what’s up for Spring .
2: Emily Ryan
The texture! The depth! The detailing! I can’t get enough. What Leanimal did for me in “quantity of quality,” Emily Ryan did for me in textile innovations — the likes of which I’ve only seen in textile specialists like Anne Kyyro Quinn’s interiors (it’s all you, L. Lang!). This is the first time I’ve ever wanted to be like Tinkerbell — so I could call this closet my home and sleep in a different nook of these magical skirts every night. But fairies are another story.
3: Kate Towers
Kate Towers stole my heart from the first time I laid eyes on her line, and she didn’t disappoint at PFW. She showed the only floor-length dress, which is obviously still elegant for spring. Check her out online, on her own turf — her photo shoots are to die for. But Kate, where’s your About page? You don’t call, you don’t write…
4: Anna Cohen
When everywhere else says “blue,” Anna Cohen goes to the opposite side of the color wheel with a line of “orange.” And she totally pulls it off, in enticingly flattering feminine shapes that are right on target with her design filter to create “Italian Street Couture.”To top it all off, Cohen’s website lays down the smack on the fashion industry. The house’s vision is “To be on the forefront of moving both fashion design and the global fashion industry toward more sustainable practices that support environmental and social justice through creating cutting edge fashion apparel using globally responsible business practices.” It encourages shoppers to be proactive and make a difference in their communities through their consumerism. Amen.
5: Lara Miller
How has this happened — another Tinkerbell reference? Yes, this first outfit has her name written all over it. And I love it (but not for that reason, seriously). Miller’s line is layered and versatile like nothing else shown this week. “Grounded in geometry and then animated by the human form, the line can be twisted, wrapped, and most distinguishably flipped upside down to reveal a whole new garment. Wear it your way.” Okay.
RUNNERS UP: INDEPENDENT DESIGNERS
You saw it here first: Unpredictable shapes and bright accessories, especially the yellow. This plum vest/wrap is one of my highlights.
Stalder is famous for co-founding and co-owning Seaplane, an indie artists collective-meets-lounge-meets-boutique in Portland. Her own line is just starting to get well-deserved recognition for doing things a little differently.
When menswear looks this good, why not keep it around a little longer? Rietz creates small runs of two lines per year using all-natural fabrics. “The individuality of each piece exemplifies how clothing can be artistic and expressionistic as well as functional.”
RUNNERS UP: ESTABLISHED HOUSES
Del Forte Denim
Designer Tierra Forte, a FLP friend, got her start designing juniors’ denim for brands like Mudd and Younique. When she set off to start her own line, she assessed what she wanted her own brand to be about, and the answer was “fair.” Now, her organic cotton hails from Texas, her milling from South Carolina and her manufacturing back to Texas. Located in Berkeley herself, her admirable practices and notable redefinition of the word “luxury” (to include socially-responsible supply chains) have had fashionitorialists buzzing — for good reason.UPDATE: As of January, I am now a proud owner of the Willow (above left) — high waiste and wide leg. Though the “mom hips” look take a minute to get used to, these are as flattering as they are beautiful. I have a kind of short torso, but no matter, they put all focus on making your legs look a million miles long. Disco moves look particularly apropos while wearing them — and even that’s a good thing. (Do the hustle!)
Emily Katz designs are delicate, feminine, flattering and all-around lovable. On-trend yet classically rooted, Emily is a go-to for splurging on the newest staple.
You’ve heard me talk about these guys. You gotta love ‘em. In this fashion-centric setting, the house’s styles didn’t stand out as much as they normally do, but just visit their website again for today’s dose of mindful, pretty, industry-changing gems. This is all-American wear at its finest… they didn’t set out to be “couture.”
Symetry is overrated! While this line included an array of colors and textures, these unconventional takes on the LBD were the most interesting. NVF is self-described as “artistic expression of organic futurism via clothing.”
HONORABLE MENTION IN ACCESSORIES (AND, INCIDENTALLY, HANDMAKERY)
Personally-tailored, sewn-by-hand suits. Love the white shoes and belt here — it’s all about the “successories,” after all.
Feminine shapes, prints, necklines — and lots of skinny belts. Loving the yellow accents; they’re a keeper for spring. Sofada is designed by Alice Dobson and handmade. And who doesn’t love these glasses?
HONORABLE MENTION IN EXTREMITIES
Organic fabrics only — no zippers, buttons or clasps in the line. And it’s made to fit women size 0 to 26. Pronounced “move,” that’s what these sultry knit dresses are all about. Good move on the royal blue.
HONORABLE MENTION IN PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT
If only Nike would open up and tell the world about these wonderful world-friendly, adhesive-free, fully recyclable shoes and accessories! A beautiful story without a story teller. In time, in time. But until then, rest assured that Nike does in fact have a sole. I mean, soul.
MOST LIKELY TO TEACH KIDS IMPORTANT LIFE LESSONS
Entrepreneur and educator Ryan Christensen’s passion was to educate young people on the fact that we’re all the “same underneath”– and he saw hip clothing as a relevant medium that would make pop culture waves with its looks AND its books.
AND A FEW MORE I JUST CAN’T LEAVE OUT…
A Broken Spoke
John Blasioli was asked to design stage clothing for the Decemberists’ tour — and there it began. He claims his line “sharp, exceptionally tailored, modern and sophisticated,” and we agree.
For whatever reason, I’m in love with the vintage-style shorts-suit. And gray boots. So Elizabeth, your handmade styles make the cut. AND, I love the name of your boutique: The English Dept.! We could be great friends.
The connections begin! Linea is sold at Holly Stalder’s Seaplane. And designer Jess Beebe offers an apprenticeship of her own. AND, her education is in both art and literature. (I love these well-rounded designers.)
In a nutshell: All garments of the UK-based Izzy Lane are made from wool shorn from sheep rescued from slaughter. (Go ahead, tak a moment of amazement.) Multiple designers craft these pieces in “an economic model whereby sheep can exist, be valued and have a place in our world without becoming meat. It offers another way.”
Sharon Blair offers classes in sewing, pattern making, tailoring and more, to help YOU create that one perfect piece, from natural fabrics, no less.
This bamboo jersey is the hottest thing to hit…Weekender wear. This soft bamboo jersey is dyed and the clothes are made right in Portland.Thanks to Nina’s Photography for easy access to all the great photos.