If there is just one thing you should know about Saturday night's Portland Fashion Week show, it is that Brady Lange took the grossest, cat-patterned, possibly-meant-for-upholstery-purposes fabric from the grandma section of Mill End and turned it into a moto jacket (plus matching pants) that has become possibly the most coveted piece in the history of PFW thus far.
But first, Day 2 was immediately better than PFW's weak start on Friday. There was a full house, for starters, and everything was elevated, from the designs themselves to the (intentional) entertainment value to the styling of the looks. Things started off with distinguished bridal designer Sunjin Lee, who brilliantly styled some of her more modern ideas for brides (jumpers! leather! chambray!) with a boho vibe, complete with the occasional floppy hat. It was Lee dipping her toe in the ready-to-wear market, to which I say YES PLEASE.
Lee inadvertently set the tone for what turned out to be an onslaught of white eyelet lace. If that directive was clear enough (white lace for spring '14! got it!), the signage for the Sri Lankan Kur Collection was momentarily confusing (turns out Brandix is "a leading apparel group in Sri Lanka which is highly focused on eco-friendly best practices" where designer Kasuni Rathnasuriya currently works), though there was nothing explaining this (I found out on the internet!). That aside, the collection paired its lace with a bold floral print that I thought only worked in small doses as trim or when printed on the aforementioned eyelet. There were some perfectly workable summer dresses along with what felt like some filler, and the odd injection of harder-edged black leather that didn't quite add up.
Things veered into sportier territory with Lizz Basinger, a crowd favorite who won over with a collection that most resembled what people actually wear: comfortable pieces in easy-care fabrics and jaunty nautical stripes. I particularly appreciated a little dress in ubiquitous horizontal striping that added a little extra interest with strategic, subtle tucks and a bright red rain jacket.
Up next was Kate Troedsson with a minimal, well-tailored and mostly monochromatic collection that emphasized neutrals and—again—all white. The lowlights for me were tassled zippers on the ankles of a pair of pants along with a rear zip that dove straight down the ass crack. But overall the exactitude of the shapes (I can see myself in that
leather waxed denim blazer) made up for it. There's obviously a lot of talent there, but it could use an added shot of character to get beyond basic.
And then came the aforementioned Brady Lange, who continues to display a knack for embracing something gleefully wrong. The whole collection had a cat/social media vibe, with models taking selfies and wearing everything from a garish jungle print to the much-abuzz cat upholstery to a more subdued cat silhouette print and leopard prints, not to mention some solid, non-catty pieces like a gray leisure suit of sorts for him. If anything it felt just a tiny bit stretched out at times, but overall bravo, Mr. Lange, meow.
And how do you follow that? With Hello Eliza, of course, whose manic clubwear cannot be upstaged, complete with an extended intro featuring a towering, dynamic drag performer and followed by references to My Little Pony (hello rainbow tail), Care Bears, and weed. I would consider wearing almost nothing here (with the notable exception of the marijuana-printed dress with cropped "I Got 5 On It" tee—want!) but it makes for such an entertaining show that I struggled to edit down the photos. Plus the rapt expression on the little girl seated behind me seemed to indicate that at least one mind in the audience was blown to adorable smithereens.
Next up was Owl, an eco-conscious line that literally dealt in owl prints and owl makeup on the models. There were lots of experimental shapes in neutral colors, and while one can appreciate shaking things up, much of it looked like the half-baked product of an overactive brainstorming session.
Bryce Black brought us back to the club with his signature shiny black fringes, delicious fabric texture, and some interestingly layered skirts with dramatic, romantic volume, including the bridal look of some cool girl's dreams.
Finally (this was a loooong show), Magenta ended things with a feminine, more than a little gothy collection that sported some nice LBDs with bright sleeve details, and a black velvet gown with a crocheted skull in the rear that I need for my next Halloween formal. Not everything worked, but there was enough to pique interest in designer Wendy Ohlendorf's Boulevard de Magenta, which is apparently hiding in plain sight downtown.