A Thank You to Portland’s Fashion Scene
In my Portland Monthly tenure, I have held many titles internally: 1990s editor, shenanigans editor, born-and-raised Oregonian editor, oh-god-she-has-a-microphone-again editor. But above all of those, I’ve proudly been our style editor, covering Portland's fashion scene. And today is my last day.
Over the last 11 years (which has covered 130+ print issues and literally thousands of digital stories), I’ve had the wonderful job of writing about our city’s fashion designers, makers, and small businesses. It has been such a gift. I will scream from the rooftops forever about the massive talent in this city, and the dedication folks have to their craft kept me going and excited for what is a lifetime in the journalism world. You let me sit in your studios, hold your babies, and even let me cry when you’ve told me you were closing up shop. You all deserve every possible light shined upon you and your work, and I am so grateful you let me do it.
Now, as I prepare to clean out my desk—colorfully littered with to-do Post-its, behind-the-scenes photos from fashion shoots, and cards from interview subjects—my mind is on a walk down memory lane. As journalists, we always strive to make our stories the best they can be, but there are some we feel especially proud of. For me, this includes the time I was called upon to put words to the grief we all felt as Oregon burned last year in my essay Watching My Home State Burn. After a decade of covering the freelance maker community, I felt driven to try to aid them through the confusion and stress of the pandemic self-employment debacles last year. But when I think back about my favorite interview (outside the obvious answer of every single time I got to speak with Darcelle), it has to be sitting in the living room of soul singer Ural Thomas as he charmed me with decades of stories from his life. Please read his story, support his band, and know Portland is lucky to have a fella like that.
When it comes to the fashion shoots, it is hard to choose between my photo children, but just as I theorize all parents do actually have a favorite, here are five of mine.
Fine Print (2015)
I had seen some very old photos of a fashion shoot in rooms with grand wallpaper and loved the idea. We were so lucky the then-owners of the beautiful John Palmer house at the end of Mississippi Ave let us spend the day running around their place, and photographer Brendan Coughlin’s pics from that day look like fine art paintings to me.
Portlandia Abroad (2011)
This whole Portlandia fashion editorial was a ridiculously fun day, but I particularly loved this shot. When we were talking about photo setups for each one (the idea was for Fred and Carrie to rep ridiculousness around the globe), I said no matter what, I wanted to have them matching shirts made, and a dog in a baby carrier. (I wish you could see that the pup is wearing a matching shirt of his own.)
Shape Shifters (2010)
My first shoot for PoMo. August of 2010. It hit over 110 degrees out in Goldendale that day, while we were on set with no shade, dumping ice water down our shirts to survive. I managed to sneak my friend Bryce Black’s senior fashion collection into this beauty shot that would later be shown when he was a contestant on Project Runway, and it’s always fun to see your work on TV.
High Style (2012)
A year before Leo’s version came out, we did our own all-woman version of The Great Gatsby at a very fancy house in Southwest Portland. This shot, featuring a dress by Sharon Blair and stunning feather cape by Kate Towers, made me yelp when I saw it in edits.
Cabin Fever (2015)
Maybe my all-time favorite pic from all of my shoots? This recreation of the twins from The Shining. We built the sets ourselves, and I was standing on a ladder dangerously waving the “blood” fabric around while Holly Andres worked her incredible magic. This shoot was the first fashion editorial to win the national CRMA award for best photo story, which was something I swore to myself I would accomplish when I got hired, and did, thanks to an amazing team.
It’s hard to find the words to say goodbye. So I’m going to do the most Eden Dawn thing possible and quote the inimitable Luke Perry (AKA Dylan McKay from Beverly Hills 90210) in the television special that ran the night 90210 ended its historic 10-year run.
“Sometimes you almost wish it hadn’t gone on this long because it’s a deeper hole you gotta dig yourself out of,” he says. “You’re in relationships a lot deeper than you thought and you gotta say goodbye to people and you didn’t realize the space someone occupied in your life until you really stop and think—they’re not going to be there tomorrow, they’re not going to be there next week. And when you can really start to get your mind around that, it’s pretty sad.”
And Perry, in all his eternal wisdom, is right. I will be sad to not see this crew every day. But in my case, they will be there tomorrow. I can pick up the glossy pages of our magazine, I can read through our award-winning stories, and I will feel right at home, because this place is always going to be a part of me.
Until we meet again,
Our editor-in-chief and my longtime work friend Marty Patail interviewed me on this week’s Footnotes podcast if you’d like to hear more inside stories about photoshoots, fun, and where I’m off to next.