Open Season was a trip. Overall I had a fantastic time, despite my cold-pill-drug-induced haze and Seth Aaron getting my hair tangled in the buttons and faux pearls he was wearing resulting in an awkward hair pulling detangling session. The crowd of hundreds was rowdy, the talent was evident and short-shorts were in full effect. I even wrote a note to myself in the program that simply said, "Buy some Nair." On to the review!
The opening act consisted of the vitaminwater challenge. Several designers were charged with the task of creating a garment that was inspired by an assigned flavor of vitaminwater. This act began with a fantastical light up glow-in-the-dark creation made by Junk to Funk’s Jen LaMastra from the drinks’ bottles. It was bookended with a frock concocted purely from vitaminwater labels and packing tape by Seth Aaron. Those two ensembles weren’t part of the competition, but the garments in between were something to be proud of as well. As a judge for the contest I can tell you that choosing the winner was not an easy task. After my fellow adjudicators (Seth Aaron and Leanne Marshall from Project Runway, Tacee Webb from the Portland Design Collective, Stylist Kevin Lennox and Mercury editor Marjorie Skinner) and I saw the pieces it was a lot of back and forth before we finally landed on a winner. Newbie designer Rachel Kranick was named victorious with her tailored paper bag waist pants and color blocked blouse and handed a $1,000 check to go to her next collection. Then it was on to the main event.
Alicia Wood: Wood was a crowd pleaser in the vitaminwater competition for sure and already had some fans by the time her collection hit the runway. I’ve already reviewed it from the Portland Sewing fashion show last month, but the short version is I still love it.
Midge: A lingerie and swimwear line that had a vintage vibe and wasn’t afraid to show some skin. I thought most of the pieces straddled the line between sexy and conservative quite well. It’s always good to see designers not take themselves too seriously, which was evident with the models bouncing beach balls and batting each other with pillows on the runway.
Tod Naught: Tod Naught is the work of designer Joshua Buck who was never done a boring thing in his life. He created a kind of out there day-glow amped of version of menswear, which is a hard sell for most, but I appreciated the fact that it was truly something I hadn’t seen before. And as a fashion editor, I like that.
Reif/Coco Cardenas: The pairing of apparel designer Lindsay Reif and accessory designer Coco Cardenas was like red wine and chocolate. They just go well together. I was completely enamored with this collection from the chunky jewelry to the patterned pants and the way Reif’s dresses swung on the stage. My one tiny note involved a camel toe moment I could do without, but other than that I use my giant "Approve" stamp.
Sara Bergman: I wasn’t familiar with Bergman prior to the show and my notes on her pieces primarily focus on the surface treatments she uses. And though I saw many a romper that night, she won my coveted Romper Love Award.
Boet: The French named line was devoted to accessories that were playing the role of lead singer and never back up vocals. Each piece of metal, rope or chain was designed as a focal piece that is sure to warrant either complete lust or confusion, but nothing in the middle.
Ruki by Melanie Parr: Parr put together one of my favorite collections of the evening. It may have been one of the more understated aesthetics in the dramatic bunch and that was what I loved about it. The Calvin Klein-ish minimalistic pieces relied upon their clean lines, great fit and classic qualities to win some fans.
Heather Treadway: In a complete juxtaposition of the Ruki pieces, Treadway sent out item that were a little bit quirky and ready for a party. I always think of Treadway anytime I see a good use of a hood and she delivered that as well. Her final outfit of mini-shorts and a batwing silk blouse got a rousing cheer from intoxicated folks. Who doesn’t love a good batwing?
Bridge & Burn: If a filmmaker was making a movie about Portland the assigned wardrobe stylist could probably pick up nearly everything from Bridge and Burn. Right down the line it is tried and true to the fitted plaid shirts, cool jackets and layers. The one thing missing was a PBR.
Isaac Hers: Designer Barbara Siepp makes pieces that can swing a little bit country or a little bit rock n roll. From the front her designs are a bit more classic and then the model swishes around to reveal mesh panels, exposed zippers and other interesting details. Although, I will delicately state that the hair was not my favorite, and stole some of my attention from the clothes.
Dawn Sharp: Sharp’s pieces always seem kind of effortlessly pretty, which also sums up what I see in Sharp as a person. Lovely garments steeped in femininity.
Seth Aaron: In between accidentally pulling my hair and flipping off the crowd from the stage Aaron showed the line he debuted in LA Fashion week I reviewed awhile back. And for the record, I thought it looked even better on our Portland models.
Gretchen Jones: Jones traveled from her now New York home to show her first collection since becoming the most recent Project Runway champ. The line reminds me very much of a Portland-er with good taste. High moment was a fantastic green above the knee cocktail dress that looked s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g on the red headed model working it.
Leanne Marshall: We lost Marshall after her PR win a couple years ago and after seeing her segment I missed her even more. Combining outfits from the past collections to give a smorgasbord sample of looks, each showed the high skills she possesses as a designer. While her finale dress of floating teal silk was a total magic moment on stage, my favorite look of the whole night was Marshall’s red cocktail mini. In my garbled note to self about it I wrote, "sex in dress form, but like classy style." I still think that sums it up pretty well.
On the whole, it was a hugely successful event with loads of talent. I am impressed each year as The Mercury grows the production and caliber of the event and am already looking forward to next year.