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My issues with Portland Fashion Week are well-documented. Put as succinctly as possible, I think the used of its (very official sounding) name is a power grab that isn't backed up by its content; it's not all bad, but it's a long way from being the event that it should be: one that represents the biggest names in Portland's fashion industry; that debuts the city's most exciting new designs; that every designer in town aspires to be a part of.
Instead what we have is an uneven, three-day "week" of shows that vary wildly in quality and relevance.
I'd like to keep discussion of Friday night brief. Attendance was disappointingly sparse, and I don't have much to say about what came down the runway. Columbia Sportswear? Okay!
(Apparently site-less) Revolution Couture could have used more context/introduction. Created by Native American designer Edison Ritchie of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation, his collection seemed to be part protest/reclamation of the mainstream appropriation of his culture—there were feathers and fringes aplenty, as well as a protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline. It was a dialogue that needed some setup, and there was none. I can virtually guarantee that over half the audience had no idea what to make of what they were seeing.
O'Pearl Brands is a jewelry company that tends toward a "bigger is better" mentality, with huge, tacky bib necklaces that looked like they had been magnetized before a walk through Ed's House of Gems, paired with ill-fitting gowns. They did however have a corny introductory tableau featuring tiny dogs (yay!) and a wholly uncalled-for thong underwear butt-flash as finale:
Moving on, UnderU4Men took to the runway and tranformed the experience into something of a bachelorette party, with a parade of spray tans and teeny weeny bikini briefs for men. Give or take a few plausible swim trunks, things quickly devolved out of fashion territory and into Chippendales territory. Complete with cowboy boots.
I was ready to forever bury the shame (maybe try Portland Fashion Day?) in that basement, but to everyone's luck, Day 2 was a vast improvement. Stay tuned for a happier story.