There's a dainty, moon-sized planet on Northeast Broadway: a women's clothing boutique called Vergotis. In that gentle land, where ceilings are frescoed with sweet fluffy clouds amid an azure sky and babbling brooks flow with Cosmos and Lemon Drops, shady bowers decked with gilt settees welcome the weary shopper. A benevolent colony ruled by Kelli Vergotis and her female advisors, it celebrates the advent of each winter with a fashion fête of panache and plenitude. For those who suggest that Portlanders don't know how to behave at a genteel event, I give you planet V's Holiday Runway Fashion Show.
The scene's a dead ringer for the fashion show in Clare Booth Luce's classic--and recently resurrected--Broadway play, The Women. You know, the show in which society sweethearts in foxtails and feathers survey, shimmy into and secure the latest styles in the elegant enclave of a ladies' boutique. Similarly fashionable femmes patronize the Vergotis show. Women at this year's soiree arrived coifed, scented and dressed in outfits designed to showcase good grooming and modish manners. The crowd talked in low murmurs between sampling salmon canapés and pastel cocktails. Everyone was polite, parting the crowd for a wheelchair and finding a seat for a pregnant woman. And when models passed through the French doors to claim a runway rimmed with silver-painted twigs, the assembled group gave up gossiping to ooh, ahh and clap courteously for the clothes.
Kelli Vergotis reads the same fashion magazines you do, so her clothes tend to be more Vogue vanguard than the avant-garde anomalies of some like-sized boutiques. Her inventory, which embraces brands like Poleci and Chaiken & Capone as well as the Vergotis house label, cruises confidently down the "Do" column of that big "Dos and Don'ts" list in the sky. For example: Do wear low-rise denim with Western details on the pockets; Do invest in sweater coats and tweed trousers; Do dabble in black lace skirts and dresses.
Starlet standouts at her show were a '60s-esque, cropped (and dropped low enough to make even Jackie O. blush) tawny wool bouclé suit, a miniskirt in oversized houndstooth paired with a bad-ass chain belt, and some grand evening dresses by Mandalay of Beverly Hills--shapely silk sheaths laden with bejeweled embroidery.
Though I did overhear one onlooker whisper, "Where do you wear these clothes?" Vergotis should take that bon mot only as a note of encouragement, as the only obvious answer, of course, is "everywhere." Vergotis imagines a savvy she-shopper who knows what she likes--hang the cost.
Hell, if Sex and the City were set in Portland (stop laughing), its costumer/clothing designer, Patricia Field, might even shop here.
As is, plenty of Stumptown "It" girls visit Vergotis for the show and faithfully return to purchase a new favorite or two. Unlike in The Women, there's no dressing room death-match for popular items; Planet Girl is a little bit too mannerly for that.
Just a little.
1433 NE Broadway 284-4065
Determined to reverse the "tradition" of treating the day after Thanksgiving as a consumption free-for-all, Adbusters will celebrate its 5th annual one-day recess from purchasing. Visit www.adbusters.org for news, campaigns and local BND events. Friday, Nov. 23.