Valentino posing with models nearby Trevi Fountain. Rome, July 1967. Courtesy of The Art Archive / Mondadori Portfolio / Marisa Rastellini.

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Sprezzatura—an Italian word for essentially being cool without even trying—is in full swing over at the Portland Art Museum. If you’re not one of the tens of thousands of folks who have cruised through the gorgeous Italian Fashion exhibit, it's time to get with the program. For those of you that have and still want more, block out March 26 and April 2 on your calendar for a couple of events the likes of which Portland's fashion world has never seen.

The education department at PAM has organized a conversation series to take place those nights (moderated by myself and fashion friend Marjorie Skinner of the Portland Mercury) with a panel of carefully selected guests to represent Portland’s fashion past, present, and future.

Never made it to the legendary Seaplane? Find out why it was important to our growth now.

On March 26, the series begins with a peek back into our stylish history. Panel guests include Vivian McInerny, the woman who told Portland what was happening in fashion for decades as the fashion columnist for The Oregonian from the 1980s–2000’s. In a time before blogs and the Internet, McInerny was the Portland ambassador who went to New York Fashion Week and brought us back trends. She’s interviewed everyone from Anna Wintour to Oscar de la Renta and Beyoncé, and covered every fledgling local designer and store from the long-gone to the now fully blossomed.

On the design front, Holly Stalder holds court as both a relevant current maker and shop owner (Haunt), but also as the arguable godmother of our indie scene. Stalder—along with her partner Kate Towers—founded the now legendary Seaplane in the year 2000. Part boutique/part gallery, Seaplane gave an early platform to many of our established names (Liza Rietz, Elizabeth Dye, and Claire Le Faye to name a few) while also garnering national attention for embracing the independent style movement. Finally, Nathaniel Crissman and Rachel Turk join as the voices of heritage brands. Crissman and Turk have straddled many creative roles as partners of longtime local line Church & State, two-thirds of the design team behind Pendleton’s much loved Portland Collection, and now Crissman is head designer for Dehen’s line of classic men’s knitwear. Learn how our scene evolved into what we are today.

Portland Fashion—Looking Back
March 26, 6–8pm
Portland Art Museum
Tickets $20, click to purchase

A look from Lesniak's Project Runway winning collection. Photo courtesy Lifetime.

In a natural progression, the second half of the conversation series focuses on design here in this present moment, as well as a look to the future. Panel guests include Angela Snow, a longtime veteran of Nike who will speak on the infamous Swoosh and what direction it will take us. Additionally, we will be joined by Brit Howard and Rosemary Robinson, two gals that are well equipped to inform us of what exactly is happening with Portland’s burgeoning (or flourishing?) manufacturing scene as the owners of the ever busy Portland Garment Factory and the designers of PGF’s house line. Finally, who better to speak on the current frenzy of attention on our local scene than our own Project Runway champ Michelle Lesniak? Beyond her TV time, Lesniak is an accomplished designer working hard to remain in town as a small designer and can speak to the pitfalls and gains of that. Be part of the conversation for shaping the future of local style.

Portland Fashion—Now and The Future
April 2, 6–8pm
Portland Art Museum
Tickets $20, click to purchase

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