April 28th, 2009 5:33 pm | by Adrienne So News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

The Merc's Forecast: Spring 09 is the Season to Nurse Dying Farmhands to Life


(pictured, design by Sarah Wizemann's Gatsby lingerie)

Blah blah blah, Leanne Marshall, Portland's fashion scene. I am of two minds of this alleged fashion blossoming in our fair city of roses. Yes, Marshall's work is feminine and graceful, and yes, her success has encouraged a heretofore unseen number of young local designers. But. Does that make her an artist? Or even a good designer? I just don't know.

Likewise, at the Portland Mercury's fifth annual spring fashion show, Forecast, last Sunday, April 26 at the Armory, the clothing was light, feminine and almost entirely in different shades of nude and beige. Is it pretty? Yes. If I had a couple Benjamins burning a hole in my pocket, would I buy some of it? Maybe. Is it anything I haven't seen before? Well...

You can always rely on local legends like Adam Arnold and Julia Barbee (Frocky Jack Morgan) to fire up the imagination. Adam Arnold's runway show was...a mini George Washington. In an egg. Who emerged, wandered dazedly about for a few minutes, and then—in a horrifying display of pseudo-cannibalism—ate a hard-boiled egg from a basket, with a little silver spoon. It was something from a fever dream. I don't have the slightest idea what Adam Arnold's spring collection actually looks like, but he's definitely piqued my interest.
forecast047(pictured, design by Adam Arnold)

Julia Barbee's spring bridal collection was also eclectic, rich and textured. To me, her clothes are the apotheosis of Portland design, as they are immensely flattering, luxe, environmentally friendly, and, uh, weird. Was that a dead bird in that bustle? Are those...old cotton balls? WOOOO!

forecast101(pictured, design by Julia Barbee, Frocky Jack Morgan)

I understand that emerging designers have a reputation to protect, but if you don't make a statement there is very little reputation TO protect. Emily Katz's flowered romper and silky shirts were attractive, but not anything that I hadn't seen before at TopShop for much cheaper (er, buy local!). La Merde has some beautifully cut spring jackets. Liza Rietz's crisp, clean kimono-like designs were some of the more interesting pieces of the night.

forecast084(pictured, design by Liza Rietz).

But if there's one message you can take away from the Merc's show, it was this: We are poor, dammit. We haven't been this poor SINCE, LIKE, FOREVER. And if you're not poor, and you still have money to buy locally-made designer clothing, WE DON'T CARE. YOU SHOULD STILL LOOK LIKE YOU'RE POOR. DAMMIT. WHAR YER OVERHAULS AT.

At least, that's the impression I got from Julia Blackburn's "Tough Times" collection, Kate Towers' lovely, Grey Gardens-inspired ensembles, Mothlove's dusty minimalist lingerie, Smith & Bylee's Of Mice and Men engineer pants and ascots, and Elizabeth Dye's burlap bag cocktail dress—which, I swear to God, I have seen on Phoebe Price at some premiere at least a year ago. Phoebe Price, or Katie Price? Two quarters to rub together, for the reader who brings me that picture!

That's why I'm calling Spring 09 "the season of Steinbeck." Grapes of Wrath chic, anyone?

forecast093(pictured, design by Elizabeth Dye)
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