Unlike the something-for-everyone pandemonium that pervades most group fashion shows, Thursday's "In-Finite Swirl" show at Level was blessedly specific. It showcased the work of 10 kindred creators, from Northeast's blossoming Alberta community, whom you might know by sight if not by name. Briefly described, the look these Albert-ers presented was "Country Fair meets Fetish Night," a prurient and very Portland mix of goth and hippie (OK, throw a dash of strip-friendly Union Jacks in there, too). Many of these designers sell their work at the Dandy Lyon, an Alberta Street boutique that allows local consignors to market their limited-run party punk creations to neighborhood buyers (see Dress, WW, Aug. 22, 2001). Happily, the shop is well into its second year of business with no signs of slowdown.
Because this is no average boutique, of course, this was no typical fashion show--and unlike anything you'd see on the play-it-safe runways of New York's just-finished Fashion Week. For example, alongside actual clothes were accessories like horns, tails and riding crops. To help the show move along, there were also a sword swallower and a 10-minute cave-dance orgy featuring a dreadlocked faun in a tank top made of bike tire tubes. And, oh yeah, there was a raffle to raise rent money for a friend recovering from Tylenol-induced liver poisoning (prizes included a slave for a day, and a night at Breitenbush Hot Springs with free massage).
Despite the sideshow, a few standout designs careened down the catwalk. The Red Cross white vinyl corsets and hotpants shown by Morgan's Belle Epoque (above right) played out the naughty nurse theme in a line that was clean, consistent and spectacularly well-made (desirable traits in a nurse, after all). Likewise for the gypsy skirts, Sufi coats and mirrored Xena breastplate from Cate Carter's Moonhare Creations line. Faith Jennings' reconstructed sweaters, with rough reverse-serged edges and angled seams, provided great and very wearable contrast amid the show's abundance of lace and latex. And I definitely wanted a better look at the koi-patterned, hand-painted leather pants that flashed by during the segment by OROBOROS (the man next to me whispered, "Those sell for thousands").
Art, yes. Entertainment, yes. Plumber's crack, definitely.
But maybe we should replace one f-word--"fashion"--with another, more descriptive term. Blest Moon, Dandy Lyon principal and emcee (wearing a stunning patchwork leather trench he had made that morning), gave a midshow pep talk about supporting indie design that ended with the benediction: "Go forth, make fierceness and be fierceness."
Tumbleweed's Kara Larson joins Sarah Mansfield to show their line of unique wedding dresses under the label "Frill."