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Monday, February 11, 2013

Unmentionable in Review

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 10:04 AM

To be honest, recently there's been a growing worry in the back of my mind that the number of exciting new designers striking out with their own lines in Portland is starting to ebb, at least when it comes to apparel. But if Thursday night's Unmentionable lingerie show is any indication, our community of lingerie designers, at least, is growing and evolving in exciting directions.

R.A.W. Textiles kicked the evening off, a line that's been on the scene for years. The new collection combined the signature dye techniques of Rio Wrenn with flattering, practical briefs—a theme that would reemerge throughout a show I'd assumed would err toward showpieces. She also added a number of pretty crocheted pieces that could easily translate out of the boudoir, along with cool bodysuit (throw on jeans or a skirt and forgo an extra shirt, at least in summer), with one sheer caftan that hollered back to the original loungey romanticism of lingerie proper.

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  • Beth Olson

Under the Root came out next with a similarly playful-but-feasible-for-everyday approach (minus the corsetry closures, which are a bitch to tie yourself when you're running late). This was also one of the lines that threw in a few briefs for men, too.

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Aniela Parys was the breakout hit of the show. Overall her collection held some of the most elaborate, confectionary pieces, but they were handled both tastefully without withholding fantasy. I loved everything:

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Make It Good reverted things back to a sporty, graphic place, again demonstrating the ease with which you can incorporate local undies into your daily rotation:

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Allihalla is a line out of Eugene employing lots of jersey, lace, and creative, well-placed strap details with a few notable standouts:

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Again, Mag-Big showed you a workday drawer of cute briefs and cropped tops with cute ruching and heart details. I was particularly fond of the high waisted versions in cozy winter-weight fabrics.

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Corset Connection, as one might expect, was the most costumey of the bunch, matching their waist cinchers with frilly pants and tap shorts and the sweeping skirts of old time cowboy saloons. It's an aesthetic that's a bit Burning Man or historical recreation for my tastes, but there always seems to be a customer for this sort of thing, and these pants are kind of amazing.

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Headliner Lille Boutique showed off their latest, a Spring-appropriate dose of color and floral. And come on, it's Lille: This is the go-to, ground zero in the city for the latest and greatest in independent lingerie design, although I missed the fact that there wasn't any way to decipher which line(s) we were looking at. Still the favorites were clear:

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I'm not sure why I was anticipating a show of almost all local designs to be about broad-strokes and ideas rather than functionality, but I was more pleasantly surprised than I could have known. Unmentionable really drove home that the lingerie being made in our community is as realistic a thing to commit to as the wealth of jewelry and dresses that already hang in the dressing rooms of local patrons. What's key is making them readily available, and I don't mean Etsy. I mean in-town locations like Mag-Big and Lille where you can try things on and finger the materials. There's never an American Apparel too far away, and the easier it is to avoid them the better.

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