By Jahna Peloquin
The semi-annual fashion event presented spring looks from a dozen local boutiques and designers.
[Look by Marissa Bridges]
It may not seem much like spring in Minnesota right now, but on Saturday night, semi-annual “Envision: Artopia” fashion show transported the crowd to the tropics, at least for the evening.
Hosted at the Graves 601 hotel ballroom, the twelfth incarnation of what has become one of the hottest fashion tickets of the season presented fresh spring looks from a dozen local fashion designers and boutiques, and doubled as a showcase for producers Ignite Models Inc.’s stable of model talent.
As always, the show offered a commercially-viable mix of emerging fashion designers and wearable spring fashions from local boutiques — making it one of the more accessible local fashion shows, as far as wearability, buy-it-now appeal, and relatively affordable price points are concerned. Menswear had its moment in segments from martinpatrick3, Atmosfere and local designer Russell Bourrienne, which showcased bright separates, pattern mixing and, particularly in Bourrinenne’s case, well-cut outerwear.
An unexpected highlight was a debut collection from Lindsey DeWitt, a junior at the University of Minnesota’s apparel design program. Her spring line transported the room to Miami, with tropical-hued cropped tops and short shorts that were skin-baring without being vulgar, and edgy yet elegant. Fellow University of Minnesota student designers Khampasith Davison and Kora Gleason also showed potential with their first off-campus collections. Fellow emerging designer Marissa Bridges displayed a knack for fabric manipulation in her edgy body-con dresses, though the overall effect felt a bit two-seasons-ago. More established designers Kjurek and CounterCouture predictably stuck to their guns, offering up lines of wearable and well-made (yet otherwise unnoteworthy) spring dresses.
Judging from the crowd — a mix of “girls’ night out” groups and couples on dates, with a smattering of fashion scene insiders — “Envision” certainly reaches a broader mix of people than most fashion shows. But the commercial aspect of the show sometimes means playing it safe with the styling. If you’re going to send shop clothing down the runway, some theatricality would surely up the entertainment factor. Typically, local boutique Cliché can be counted on to provide some fun styling, but this year’s attempt (models wore helmets in a half-hearted sci-fi theme) was a bit half-hearted. The flat-ironed hair and neutral makeup didn’t help matters, literally making looks fall flat.
While it promises “an opulent evening celebrating the best in local fashion, art and music,” the show is light on the latter two elements. The art aspect, which included a RAW-curated art gallery and live painting this year, gets lost in the shuffle — literally. Party-goers crowding out of the event space in between fashion shows were more interested in sidling up to the bar than experiencing art. The only musical element was the serviceable if standard DJ set from Bryan Gerrard that accompanied the runway show. The show would be better served by nixing the art and music focus altogether, and focusing on its strength — offering up a consistently well-executed, stylish and accessible runway fashion show.
[Looks by Lindsey DeWitt]