Friday night the view from the FashionXT lounge was ripe with people watching. By far the most full crowd of the week I watched everyone from the studded glam to a schleppy gentleman who looked like he had jogged in mingle about in an elevated mood while cruising through booths of electronic and bag vendors. Whether the additional fashion goers were there because the weekend arrived or the trifecta of former Project Runway-ers on the bill brought them out is difficult to say. Regardless it was a good crowd ready to take in the sights.
FashionXT Show and Market Location
Vigor Industrial Shipyard, Swan Island
5555 N. Channel Ave.
Portland OR 97217
What I loved: Back for a third year, Lenzanita designer Anita Kealey specializes in using sustainable fabrics for her evening looks. This year she branched out into some spectacular menswear and piqued my interest in a way that hasn’t happened in the past. She seems to have a knack for creating classy, stylish looks for the fellas which is hard to do and I say, run with it.
Hoping to be helpful: The menswear was spot on, but the women’s looks had some consistency issues. Not only did the prints run a too wide gamut, the young customer who would wear a short romper with a flowy chiffon train doesn’t seem to align with the 40+ customer wearing the conservative work wear suits.
What I loved: Designer Brent Collier owns a high end menswear shop that regularly has him jetting over to Europe for buying trips and over time he began designing his own pieces for European tailors to stitch up. Because of that wise business decision, the line of suits, sport coats, pants and dress shirts he showed were exquisitely crafted. The entire segment was a crowd success from the speakers blazing Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” to the cool coats and the perfectly color popped pocket squares on one handsome model after another (including Collier’s elderly father as the finale).
Hoping to be helpful: Keep it up.
Designer: Joshua Christensen (Season 9 - Project Runway)
What I loved: A menswear designer for Guess, the LA based Christensen created a line of mainly wearable basics with highlights of tees with mesh paneling and some basic shorts.
Hoping to be helpful: After meeting Christensen and instantly agreeing he seems just as sweet as he did on Runway it pains me to say that his collection read very “new” designer to me. The hand painted embellishments of insects and honeycomb shapes on the ready to wear felt a little crafty and potentially alienated customers as far fewer men will purchase a button down with a bee stenciled across the chest. I think the items would have been stronger had he trusted their potential as basics and left off the extras.
Designer: Josh McKinley (Season 9 - Project Runway)
What I loved: Prior to FashionXT I had been quite fond of some of McKinley’s women’s wear pieces he put forward on Runway last year (particularly his unconventional challenge look). For his debut in Portland, McKinley went with neon menswear that was often over the top. The tank tops he made were solid with a stand out outfit being a geo pair of drop crotch pants and a green striped tank.
Hoping to be helpful: There were some cool and wearable pieces in the collection, but overall it was difficult to pinpoint what kind of a collection this was. The shiny metallic short-shorts would be right at home on the dance floor while the knits paired with athletic socks sent a message of loungewear pieces for home. Add to that a sort of futuristic take on a rain coat with neon lacing, I gave up trying to figure out who’s wearing or buying it, and just picked out the things I liked.
Designer: Seth Aaron (Season 7 winner of Project Runway)
What I loved: Seth Aaron’s attention to quality and fit is utterly impressive. From the second his initial look hit the runway I remembered how Aaron wowed the reality television world with his ability to churn out incredibly well constructed clothing. This time around, his jackets particularly forced you to notice these skills.
Hoping to be helpful: Fall means the showing of spring collections, but the red, purple and black color palette was not only counterintuitive to spring it also was a redo of past color palettes. Even the purple gloves on the models were the same from last year’s runway show. Out with the old and in the with new.