This year, as we were told to cut budgets, buy American and expect less, the economy receded like a hairline. In response, communities nationwide gave a collective sigh and combed over.

Happily, plucky P-towners plunged ahead with their ventures and visions, parading the exuberance, optimism and independent spirit we're known for--as well as a new polish and maturity.

If Portland's style and design scene were a hairstyle, '02 would be a flaming henna updo glistening with Aqua Net. Curl up and dye, axis of evil!

Phoenix Rising: Reduce. Reuse. Refind. ReFind Furniture started hatching coffee tables and shelves from timber salvaged from North Portland's Rebuilding Center. Speaking of hatching, Fashion Incubator launched a new chapter in PDX style when its group show drew hordes of trend followers to the Portland Art Museum on a chilly night in November. Way back in January, Seaplane celebrated its first anniversary with a 20-designer show that double jam-packed hipster stadium B-Complex. Make sure to check out the upcoming Seaplane XOX show at Wieden & Kennedy on Jan. 18, 2003.

Welcome Wagon: New stores nested in our freshest neighborhoods. Among them were the Pearl District's zooming Vespa boutique and the déjà-vu-ish Design Within Reach (which replaced the like-minded Full Upright Position). Old Town saw the incredibly right now Hive Modern Furniture, Just Be Toys and Harput's Shoes. Miss Mona's Rack, design lab Itch Studios and Bishop's Barber Shop brought a fresh batch of indie style to the eastside.

Sticky Fingers: Remember our long, hot summer? Sweat-inducing (and frankly bizarre) boutique thefts plagued local retailers such as Gold, French Quarter and Aubergine. And the visiting Cirque du Soleil had valuable costumes swiped. Tsk. Tsk.

Other Three-Ring Circuses: The annual Embellishment Bead and Button show mollified mad mini-crafters. The Portland Bridal Show scared the bejeezus out of yours truly.

98.6 Department: Northeast Portland's très feminine boutique Vergotis shuttered (the space is soon to be occupied by a Birkenstock emporium--that's enough to make a big girl cry) and moved into a closet space downtown. Two of Portland's venerable edifices, the Oregon Historical Society and The Imperial Hotel, undertook radical makeovers (hello, Lucia!). Finally, art and fashion got fine facilities: The lux-ish Mario's and the Art Institute moved to swanker digs (in the Fox Tower and Brewery Blocks, respectively), and Nordstrom fired a powder puff across fashion's bow with Via C, a new department courting couture's country-cousin customers. Our own Lit was featured in Nylon magazine's definitive list of the world's 100 most stylish shops.

Letters Department: The Look bureau got heaps of correspondence responding to three columns: men's retail recommendations, a story on plus-size punketeria Torrid and pre-teen exposé "Babes in Tweenland." The public groundswell tells this columnist that fashion still consistently overlooks anyone not 21, female, and 36-24-36. In 2003, let's make niche the new natural.

Poor Little Match (or Coordinate) Girl: For those seeking style without spending, Naked Lady parties proved a thrifty solution. A survey of the city's best shoeshines revealed that, at three bucks, it's cheaper than a haircut and earns just as many good-grooming gold stars.

Time Passages: Longtime Daisy Kingdom security guard Joe Marras passed away in August after minding the henhouse for more than 20 years. This writer remembers often being shooed out at closing time with his reassuring, "We open again at 9 am tomorrow." So long, old friend.

And adieu, 2002.