Friday night at the shipyards was a packed house. With two big names, The Portland Collection and Michelle Lesniak, bookending the evening, general admission sold out days in advance and the crowd was hyped.
It kicked off strong right away with the debut of the first spring collection from Pendleton’s TPC line. The warm colors of navy, creams, and pops of red filled the men’s and women’s selections of wearable, chic separates and dresses. Once again, designers John Blasioli, Nathaniel Crissman, and Rachel Turk make me proud to have them as part of our local design community.
In the middle act, Stephanie D. Couture showed a range of eveningwear. Perhaps slightly too big of a range as the bright blue and knit dresses felt out of place with the others, but her jaw dropping opening black LBD with a sexy thigh slit left a memorable impression and keeps popping into my head. Lenzanita was back for another year with a color story far more robust than years past and some interesting pieces. Though I must with all my heart object to the men’s ensemble of a matching dipped tie to colorblocked dress shirt. Moving on, Ethos Paris showed many casual low-key looks made from sustainable materials. Everything is completely sellable, but rather quickly the perfectly-suitable-for-day-to-day wear seemed to overstay its welcome on the fancy runway, though the dramatic floral accessories helped.
Finally, designer Michelle Lesniak came out (while the models got quick makeovers) to discuss the inspiration of her new “Decay” line, speaking on the beauty that can be found as things break down. With her married name Franklin conspicuously absent from all the promotional material, you felt the roots of the theme ran deep. Perhaps that’s why her show was the most haunting of the evening. As a violinist played, models in their dark makeup and hair walked the runway somberly in layers of chiffon, wool, and knit. The gorgeous prints, produced in collaboration with local textile designer Kate Troyer, looked light and airy until you saw the motifs actually consisted of dead leaves and rats. Topping the layered looks were unsettling jewelry made from doll bits by Ben Posin from Sticks & Stones. Overall, Lesniak’s dark dream was by far the most completely thought out segment of the week from the look to the ambiance, and a stellar way to show the world post-Runway she’s not fading out.