Portland needs a fashion police, and not just for the people who wear North Face to weddings. There's a tangled web of lies, rivalry and political subterfuge enveloping our fashion industry.
Two fashion shows, Portland Fashion Week and FashioNXT, are coming to Portland runways in October. Both shows have signed proclamations from Mayor Charlie Hales' office declaring them to be the city's official fashion week. Portland Fashion Week claims the first week of October as—surprise—"Portland Fashion Week." FashioNXT, which hosts shows during the second week, holds the mayor-approved title of "Portland's Official Fashion Week."
The intrigue does not end here.
While the designers are usually the main draw, Fashion Week organizer Tod Foulk is keeping his lineup under wraps because of harassment by Internet trolls. Foulk says he was accused of being "a crook and a criminal" and believes that "too many people in the Portland fashion industry are engaged in character assassination."
Lauding Portland Fashion Week as the world's first carbon-negative fashion event, Foulk claims he planted $10 billion worth of trees by himself to offset carbon generated by the event. It will open with a sustainable fashion showcase, followed by ready-to-wear and swimwear collections, then bridal and couture shows. The four-day event wraps up Sunday, Oct. 4, with a showcase of accessories, an homage to the often-overlooked contributions of hair and makeup artists and a benefit dedicated to LGBT designers.
Three days later, FashioNXT kicks off at its Pearl District location, bringing a roster of five Project Runway winners—including local heroes Seth Aaron and Michelle Lesniak—and national names like L.A. designer Walter Mendez. "FashioNXT has emerged as the premier event for the Portland fashion community," says creative adviser Lynn Frank, "which is why the mayor has designated it as the official fashion event."
FashioNXT's biggest draw may be its second day's wearable technology fashion competition. Hoping to "create a relevance reflective of Portland," Frank says, the competition attracted entries from around the world that fuse wearable technology—like your mom's Fitbit—with high fashion. There's a cash prize and an invaluable raft of features and mentoring opportunities for whichever designer best fuses function and aesthetics.
We're looking at a tale of two catwalks—one mysterious and eco-conscious, the other tech-inspired. With their claws already drawn, one show is likely to rise to prominence, posing the question: Does Mayor Hales' office have a "Portland's ONE, TRUE, ACTUAL, SERIOUSLY GUYS THIS IS THE REAL ONE Fashion Show" certificate on deck?
(8 pm shows) $30-$165 per show.