By Beth Hammarlund
Last spring, designer Ra'mon-Lawrence set a new standard for Twin Cities fashion with his solo show Eluded Love. Held at the Soo Visual Arts Center, the show was by far the Cities’ most ambitious individual presentation to date. This year Laura Fulk built on this new tradition of extravagantly produced solo shows. The designer's Spring 2009 collection was presented at The Lab Theater and featured production values that rivaled MN Fashion Week’s larger and more established group shows.
The clothes featured many of Fulk's signature details. The structured shapes and extravagant neck pieces that she has become known for were still a through line in the collection, though the looks had more ease to them than in previous Fulk collections. This was due in no small part to the adjustable technical details of the pieces. High funnel necks were molded into place and secured with snaps and buttons, magnets transformed a Siamese twin wedding dress into two individual gowns, and drawstrings unfolded a ruffled neckline into a beautifully lined cape. The transformative nature of the pieces was evocative of Hussein Chayalan, while the layered panels of fabric drew comparisons to Marc Jacobs Spring 2008 collection. The interactive elements of the clothing made for an engaging runway show, and the theatrical presentation helped the audience connect to the clothes as both wearable items and pieces of art.
Mplsart.com proprietors and Suffocate producers Emma Berg and Kristoffer Knutson raved about the space and the opportunity to be involved in every detail up to and including the lighting. The styling was strong, particularly the choice to outfit the models in shiny high heeled booties and thick beige dancing tights. The tights were worn over the shoes, allowing a glimmer of patent leather to shine through and creating an elongated leg that transformed the already lithe models into gazelle-like figures. Wearing dance tights over high heels may not be the most wearable trend as far as function, but the effect was accessible enough that I've been considering hitting up the Capezio website to attempt my own modified version. (Insider info: I was hoping to keep the tights from running by applying a border of clear nail polish around the sole. However, last night I asked Eclecticoiffeur stylist Jahna Peloquin about this technique, and it was actually something that they’d attempted for Suffocate, but with little success. Drat.)
The show clocked in at over half an hour, which ensured that the event was worth its $15 ticket price, but is also a lot of time for a fashion show. The models marched the runway one at a time, and though this provided audience members and photographers with substantial opportunity to absorb the individual looks, the presentation lost some of the collection’s fluidity. I'm not advocating the current standard of interchangeable models stomping past one another in brief ten minute shows, but having models pass one another on the runway helps an audience grasp the connections between individual looks.
That said, Suffocate boasted some of the most successful production design, both technical and artistic, that the Twin Cities fashion community has ever seen. It was an incredibly accomplished show and certainly the gem of MN Fashion Week.
Photos by Stephen Stephens
SKY PARK FASHION MIXER 4/22
l’étoile and Secrets of the City hosted the Sky Park Fashion Mixer last Wednesday on the rooftop terrace of the beautiful Eitel Building City Apartments. The turnout was fabulous, and the gorgeous sunset and excellent people watching certainly didn’t hurt matters. Delicious treats were provided by Joe’s Garage and guests sipped on drinks compliments of Sacre Bleu Wine and Crispin on Ice. Thank you to all of the sponsors who were present at the event and contributed to the excellent gift bags. In these economic times, free snacks, drinks, and swag are a pretty pleasant surprise!
Photos by Camille Bourgerie & Stephen Stephens
VOLTAGE: FASHION AMPLIFIED 4/24
This year’s Voltage production was significantly shorter than past shows, featuring only ten runway designers and five bands and band designers. However, the edited presentation made for a tighter production than in previous years, while still presenting a varied collection of talented Twin Cities designers. The runway extended from the stage at a 45 degree angle, as opposed to previous years in which it jutted perpendicularly into the audience. The modification worked in favor of both the presentation and the crowd, giving the models more angles to work with and creating space for a far roomier seating section than in years past.
Though there was a lot of fashion to enjoy, the highlight was finale designer Max Lohrbach. The clothes featured the designer’s signature painted fabrics and feminine shapes, with multiple trompe-l'œil bows and scalloped details . Models literally bursted through paintings, wearing ripped canvases and frames around their waists or shoulders. The voluminous trousers and baggy shorts were extremely on trend, though the collection was dominated by swingy skirts and flirty tops. The opening bustled dress was a masterpiece, and I couldn’t help wishing that we’d seen more of Lohrbach’s structured shapes. (This desire was exacerbated by sitting next to mplsart.com director Emma Berg, who was wearing a custom-made Lohrbach dress with a bustled skirt. It was a gorgeous creation that had me staring down at my pegged harem pants and wishing I’d gotten more dressed up for the occasion).
The music and sound editing were particularly strong this year, due to the bands’ excellent performances, as well as the crew’s impressively quick set ups and tear downs. First Communion After Party’s atmospheric set created an ideal atmosphere for a fashion presentation. And, as expected, Maria Isa kept the crowd’s energy up until the very end of her finale performance.
Every year Voltage continues to step it up technically. The video segments were well-edited, while the look book will certainly be the most treasured souvenir of MN Fashion Week. As always, the conclusion of Voltage raises the same inevitable question: How will they top themselves next year?
Photos by Stephen Stephens