Ah FashioNXT. Like an on again/off again boyfriend, you weave in and out of our lives each year, sometimes charming us, sometimes bringing drama. This year you were on your best behavior, with tents that stayed in place despite the torrential downpour, a house packed more for the local designer night than the big visitors, and sheer dresses as far as the eye can see.
On opening night Mayor Charlie Hales introduced FashioNXT and the international partnership with Shenzhen, China by telling a cute story about how he proposed to Nancy Hales on the Great Wall of China. This is the second year of devoting an entire night to this symbiotic relationship–last year local designer Cyndi Koon was hired by one of the Shenzhen labels to design and has been trucking back and forth between Portland and China for months. The takeaway I’ve had each year is the level of craftsmanship and knowledge of construction is at an incredibly impressive level.
This night was devoted to local designers and was my favorite of the week. Former Emerging Designer contestants Myriam Marcela and Devonation debuted fantastic collections, and my normal grumpy ‘tude about childrenswear mixed into an adult fashion show was erased with the cool kids that presented the Age to Come line. And of course, there was the Emerging Designer competition that begat its own review here.
A night that was a mixed bag of local and visiting designers, and frankly designs that were hit or miss. After a first half that ran the gamut from highly embellished wedding gowns to fringed leather rompers the final collection from Michelle Lesniak was by far the most emotive, cohesive collection straying away from the seemingly thousands of gowns we saw over the week to offer a full line of dresses, blouses, pants, and accessories.
The finale night was all about Project Runway. Sweet Mondo Guerra (still one of the most fun interviews I've done) presented an all white, modern collection along with a talk about eschewing what’s expected of you, while Viktor Luna turned up the futuristic notch to a dial fiddling between next wave modern and costume. Closing out the show was Seth Aaron who for the first time in years presented a full line showcasing the impressive tailoring and attention to detail (back seam pattern matching!) that made him a twice over winner.