When a glass votive candle exploded midway through Jess Beebe's Linea fashion show at Holocene on Sunday night, it could have been choreographed. The burst of tinkling glass and extinguished light didn't seem out of place. Scratchy, breathless video projections and atmospheric swells of music (performed live by local trio the Cherry Blossoms) had been building the tension for 20 minutes, and it seemed like something--anything--could happen.
In fact, most of the show's drama stayed just beneath the surface, and that was its elegance. "In a 'normal' fashion show, what is being expressed is sass and sex and getting down," says Beebe. "I'm into that too, but I'm interested in what else can be said--something quieter and subtler." To wit, the highlight of the entire production was when a statuesque blonde in a cream dress stenciled with abstract roses sat down, then gradually leaned to sleep.
"The show went into slow motion at that point," said Beebe after the show. "I wanted to highlight the hand-printing on the dress, but that sequence also had a lot to do with the model. I think of Becky [the model] as meditative and sweet and soft-spoken, and I wanted her part of the show to reflect what I know about her."
Models with personalities...isn't that a bit, well, personal?
It was a refreshing format for local fashion. Beebe's designs, which can be found locally at Southeast Belmont haute spot Seaplane, have a kind of intimacy that seems too subtle for the stalk-and-gawk format of typical runway shows. As a designer, Beebe gravitates toward flowing shapes and naturalistic color--fresh, olive-colored panels in a tailored mod dress, peony-pink charmeuse quilted with quiet blossoms and scrolls. She's also not afraid to take on risky design challenges--one black-and-green velvet frock was made entirely of diamond-shaped harlequin panels individually stitched together. Beebe produces everything herself, often rendering delicate, exotic fabrics like silk georgette and chiffon into blossomlike garments with pintucks and ruffles. Even a white sequined two-piece ensemble, which in any other context would scream "South Beach trophy wife," seemed somehow fragile and angelic.
Linea clothes don't flash, they glow.
By consulting with local dancer/choreographer Elizabeth Ward, Beebe developed choreography for the show that felt strange and intense--sometimes even awkward--but oddly fitting for her designs. Lovely, angular models trailed out slowly in ones and twos, their pale draping frocks and gossamer persimmon-colored skirts wafting behind them. Some models opened and closed battered folding chairs. Another walked a tape measure as if it were a tightrope. And throughout the 30-minute performance, an overcoated crowd maintained a patient poise.
In the absence of swaying spotlights and a throbbing beat, the show felt unfamiliar--and that was the point.
"I tend to fly in several directions at once, and the goal was to push myself toward my own edges," says Beeble. "With this show, I wanted to push the audience, too--gently."
Psst...if you push yourself gently toward Seaplane this month, you may be able to buy one of the remarkable pieces from the show.