I’ve lost track of the number of Fade to Light shows. Eight? Ten? Regardless of how many incarnations, the formula thus far has been relatively the same: super fun atmosphere, with some designers blowing it out of the water (the Sharon Blair live hair chopping and Bryce Black Beyoncé choreography have become the stuff of legend), and a couple playing it pretty safe. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But this time around, the familiar peaks-and-valleys feeling was different. Every designer upped their game, from a fantastic video installation that introduced the show to a dance troupe on the runway to collections that demonstrated a designer's evolving aesthetic.

West Daily
A new(ish) line from veteran designer Jason Calderon, West Daily’s impressive separates worked best in menswear with a sophisticated, subdued color palette and quality materials.

Stephanie D Couture
Though designer Stephanie Dong’s specialty is bridal, for me her style works best when she lets it flow. The standout of the collection was a black halter gown gliding down the runway with a thigh-high slit.

Tiffany Bean
Major props to Tiffany Bean for enlisting her mini-me daughter to create the most cohesive video of the night. As the audience watched the little girl indulge in fashion activities and prance about with oversized balloons, we wondered if it was Bean as a child—until a model carrying the same balloons floated onto the runway. Bravo to her for both creating a moment and debuting a collection of wearable pieces in cute prints.

Rogue: Minx
A mixed collection for me, because I’ve come to expect so much from Rogue. Though it overall felt a bit simple compared to past embellished bits and contrasting velvet and mesh materials, the collection also had one of my hands-down favorite outfits of the night: a simple high-waisted jean with fantastic triangular cutouts on the waist allowing the patterned bodysuit below to pop through. Love.

Bowie Breakdown­ Intermission!
I’ve never known bigger David Bowie fans than show producer Elizabeth Mollo and her husband, show DJ Gregarious. They even had Bowie decorations at their wedding. The intermission was jazzed up with a sweet video tribute to the Starman and a nice extra touch for our beloved fashion icon.

Laurs Kemp
Kemp is well on her way to becoming the sweetheart of Portland's fashion scene. She easily created the most buzz of the night by blasting Salt ‘N Pepa’s “None of Your Business" before showing a chic minimalist collection in cottons and linens with her now infamous boob print blazing across the chest. If that wasn’t enough, midway through multiple members of the 11: Dance Company came onstage shaking booty and turning the crowd into a screaming, cheering mess.

Wendy Ohlendorf
Ohlendorf has evolved quite a bit since her time as the Emerging Designer at FashioNXT two years ago. And this collection was my favorite of hers yet. Eschewing color for a black-and-white theme, graphic prints on pants and dresses brought a new sophistication to her work. And the finale suit looked tailored to a T.

Altar
On the flip side to Ohlendorf leaving color behind, it was nice to see the boho babes at Altar embracing color with a tropical print caftan and vibrant cobalt halter dress. A line that maintains simplicity to keep pieces highly affordable, the foray into more color makes sense and gave the pieces a new vibe for spring.

Ms. Wood
After three years the woman we can all call a leather legend returned to the runway, and of course, my selfish reaction was I want more. At only five looks, I was left longing for double or triple the Wood, but what we did see was fully realized in the way we know her to do. Not content with simply designing the dress, Wood gave us bags, belts, cuffs, and everything you could need in the accessory world. Or things you never knew you needed, including a belt with layered fringe hanging off one side that I now desperately want.

 

 

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