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Friday, February 14, 2014

Unmentionable in Review

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM

It was a typically packed crowd at Tuesday night's Unmentionable lingerie expo, a combination of mostly locally made underthings—both everyday cottons and costumey one-of a kinds—along with former Portlander Rachel Rector, New Zealand's Thunderpants, and Lille Boutique.

Lille opened the show with a set of its latest offerings. A cross-reference with their website reveals that the pieces that stood out to me as favorites were from Huit (no surprise there given my most recent lingerie-drawer acquisitions). Neutral black and white mixed with the saturated colors that are trending in the lingerie world now, giving you the perhaps-unnecessary but completely welcome reminder that when it comes to underthings, Lille rules the town.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Make It Good was up next with his and hers cotton basics, body hugging boxer briefs on the menu for both genders in prints that matched accompanying sweatshirts and t-shirts. The cuts seem more suitable for loungewear than for disappearing comfortably under clothing, but the patterns are casual and appealing (and edgier than some of their more cutesy past designs—a good thing in my view), especially up top.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Jason Quigley

Iron Oxide showed its collection of body chains (the full repertoire is more diverse), appropriate for the context of this show. It takes a certain personality to wear these seriously, some combination of bohemianism and gall, but I think they look best when on the subtle side, with thinner, simpler weavings of chain and a minimum of additional accents—or maybe I just mean that that's the safest route. It's the sort of thing that can be gloriously impressive when pulled off correctly.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Then we took a sharp left turn back into casual cottons with Thunderpants, sturdy briefs in playful patterns that are sporty and perfectly suitable to market on the tomboy wave that's riding high these days.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Folly's Sarah Bibb showed a collection of slips, with plenty of simple, versatile pieces with nice coverage and a signature asymmetrical lace trim at the bust, bust even better were a couple of adorable pajama sets and a long finale "slip" with dramatic hem and deep rear plunge that could do double duty as an evening gown.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Eugene's Allihalla had some of my favorite pieces in last year's show, and there were some cute panty sets on display, though overall the designs seemed to lack focus or cohesion and almost all were distractingly paired with leather harnesses, sometimes in dubious combination. The leatherwork at times looks creaky, but worked best on the male models, who looked more comfortable with them worn across their bare chests.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Recently relocated to Brooklyn, former Portland designer Rachel Rector was my overall pick for the evening, with a fascinating combination of sorbet colorblocking and shapes and cutouts that were original without looking too tricky to be wearable. I've always liked her work, but these latest designs are far less reminiscent of brands like VPL and demonstrate that she's increasingly refining her own signatures. I can't wait to see where she takes this.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Mag-Big's house line showed its continued knack for keying in on effortlessly cool, comfortable pieces that you could absolutely live in, from high-waisted but unfussy briefs to a cozy sleep/lounge shirt, very much akin to the work being done by Make It Good... unfortunately I don't have many photos of it, but hopefully more will surface eventually!

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  • Beth Olson Creative

Lastly came the all-out decadence of Urchin Redesign, with the sort of lovely, mussed, repurposed style that has been a throughline in Portland's apparel design history. The collection unfolded to reveal some excellent crocheted pieces, dramatic, fun elements like playful tassles and fringes, and a truly impressive caged finale. I can't imagine anyone other than a burlesque performer finding a use for most of it, but it's certainly something to see.

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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  • Beth Olson Creative

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