Sunday, September 20, 2009

MNFashion Week Recap #1: 9/17-9/18

By Jahna Peloquin, fashion editor

As New York Fashion Week winded its way down, MNfashion Week was just beginning. Though it officially kicked off Monday the 21st, the Twin Cities weren’t short on a surplus of fashion this past weekend. l’etoile Fashion Editor Jahna Peloquin hit the hot spots and gave us a recap.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Image: Jahna, left, with Anna Lee and MNfashion board member Jessica Palkowitsch
[Images by Jahna Peloquin]

I kicked off the weekend early with An Evening at Eastcliff at the home and gardens of the President of the U of M in St. Paul. Though not officially an MNfashion Week event, MNfashion founder Anna Lee was on hand to address the crowd that gathered for the event put on by the Friends of the Goldstein (founded by local fashion icon Margot Siegel). We were served wine and hors d’oeuvres during the seated presentation and afterward mingled within the decadent surroundings.

(Image of Allison Quinnell with her design)

Anna Lee also brought in two local designers of her choosing, Amanda Christine and Allison Quinnell, who previewed their fall 2009 collections. Allison’s participation was fitting, as she graduated two years ago from the University of Minnesota’s apparel design program. The Voltage 2009 designer showed a gorgeous violet dress, modeled by Talia of Vision Models. She told me her fall collection, consisting of jewel tones with gem detailing, studding and ruffles, would be available soon at Drama and Design Collective.

(Designs by Amanda Christine)

Then there was Amanda Christine, one of my favorite designers to work with. I wore one of the pieces I had commissioned from her, a ruffled skirt based off a design she created for her spring 2009 collection, to the raves of the party-goers. She had two models with her wearing her fall designs: Zoby designer Heather DeLapp in a red plaid wiggle dress, Nikki Morris in a checked peplum top (which I also own), skirt and ingenious scarf-wrap. She makes them in a bunch of colors, and they’re currently available at Cliché and Drama for $40. Amanda wore one of her own ruffled pencil skirts.

Next, it was on to stop by Kingman Studios for this month’s edition of Gallery Grooves, co-hosted by Secrets of the City Arts Editor and l’etoile Editor-in-Chief Kate Iverson. It was the first time any of us could recall being at Kingman’s before midnight. The studio of artist Brant Kingman, one of the city’s indispensable characters, turned out to be a great place to mingle (and sip vodka drinks tinged with mint and served by Secrets publisher Kris Henning).

(Jahna at Drama with photographer Mike Feltault)
[Image courtesy Mjf Foto]

Then it was onto the grand re-opening party for local boutique Drama, which recently relocated from downtown Minneapolis to Uptown. There I ran into the fabulous Gretchen Williams, former Events Producer and gal-about-town, who was in town from NYC for the weekend. Once inside I also happened upon local designer Kimberly Jurek, who counts Drama as one of the many boutiques her line kjurek couture is carried. (Her solo show, Exclusively Fall, will be held at the W Hotel this Friday.)

As with every Thursday evening, I ended up at l’etoile’s weekly Project Runway viewing party at Hell’s Kitchen. Since Kate was caught up at Kingman’s, l’etoile publisher Beth Hammarlund was joined by her boyfriend and l’etoile Business Manager Brian Goielli for fashion trivia before the show. Fortunately, both of our homeboys Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman and Christopher Straub managed to create great pieces, and were deemed safe by the judges.

Friday, September 18, 2009

After joining a bunch of well-connected peeps at a happy hour thrown by Gretchen Williams at Bev’s Wine Bar, I headed out to the Envision fall fashion show at the Graves 601 Hotel with Kate Iverson in tow. We started with fancy cocktails at downstairs bar Bradstreet, known for its “mixologists” (a fancy term for bartenders), and drinks in hand, headed to the sixth floor for the bi-annual runway show thrown by Ignite Modeling. Packed with more designers and boutiques than you could shake a stick at, the show is always a can’t-miss event on every local fashionista’s calendar. After traipsing through backstage to preview the looks and say hello to the models, we took our front-row seats (furnished with a swag bag that included a mini bottle of Grey Goose. Fancy!)

(Image of a look from Awryn Birch)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

From the beginning, the show was full of class and sophistication. It started off with a lone violinist who took a stroll down the runway, backed by a bumpin’ beat. (“Is that Ross from Friends?” Kate cheekily commented.) Then Arwyn Birch’s models hit the runway, in plaid coats with bell sleeves, hoods, and oversized buttons. They were surprisingly chic coming from a designer known for her simple, wearable knit dresses. The hair and makeup styling, by Rocco Altobelli stylists and L. Mae Artistry, respectively, superbly showed current fall trends and provided a seriously chic consistency to the show.

(Image of a look from Emily Weich)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

Emily Weich’s collection followed. The designer’s strengths are in concept, styling and a whimsical charm, but it was hard to tell what she was going for based on the four looks we were presented with. Some of the looks erred on the side of too sexy – one included a fur wrap, a black silk minidress that looked like a nightie, and black sheer thigh-highs worn with garters. The shredded fur stole the designer herself wore, however, was an intriguing, edgy piece when worn simply with skinny jeans and pumps.

(Image of a look from Kjurek Couture)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

(Image of a look from Amanda Christine)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

Next up were kjurek couture and Amanda Christine. Kimberly Jurek’s collection included a lot of cowl neck and ruffle neck details, waist-tie belts, and warm fall tones and pops of bright orange, worn with statement feather earrings by Zoby. (I’ll review her collection in full after Friday’s show at the W.) The standout of Amanda’s collection was a black-and-white belted jacket with three-quarter-length sleeves – a perfect excuse to buy some black leather elbow-length gloves this fall.

(Image of a look from Jenny Carle)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

Next up, Jenny Carle (also in this Saturday’s SCENEaSOTA show) showed her usual wearable strapless sheath dresses, which I’ve been told are a hot seller at Cliché. Her addition of cropped jackets and longer dresses showed her desire to grow in range, but the construction and fabric choices seemed a bit off. It was apparent that the long blue dress, while nice in concept, constrained the model’s legs as she attempted to walk down the runway, and her colorful print tunic rode up to reveal a peek of the model’s bum.

(Image of a look from Russell Bourrienne)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

Then we got to menswear designer Russell Bourrienne, a longtime staple of the local fashion industry. When it comes to construction and fit, no one does it better than Russell, and too few designers create menswear in this city. While sometimes his spring collections are a bit off to me stylistically, his fall collections are consistently strong. He showed his usual coats and jackets in plaid, orange and olive green military-grade wools, but added a twist with button and belted detail on the pant legs. After the show, he told me he was inspired by the burgeoning Steampunk movement, and I thought it was smart of him to incorporate unusual details with classic tailoring. It would be interesting to see how he would translate his aesthetic into womenswear.

(Image of a look from Peloria)
[Images by Josh Stokes/Stokes Foto]

Local designer Peloria and some looks from boutique Local Motion followed. Peloria showed her usual quirkiness with asymmetrical hemlines and collars, and styled her models in very Prada-esque stocking caps and flats. While I appreciated the unique styling, I wish she would’ve chosen more expensive-looking fabrics; these knits have an unfortunate tendency to bunch at the seams.

[At La Nouvelle Femme with Emma Berg and Anna Lee]
[image by Mjf Photo]

Though the show was only half over at this point, I had to rush out to catch Calpurnia Peach’s runway segment at La Nouvelle Femme at the Varsity Theater. In my rush, I was pulled over for speeding (fortunately I didn’t get a ticket), and missed the show (which started earlier than I was told). When I spotted Peach co-designer Luci Kandler, she offered to take me backstage to view the garments up close, and promised me pictures.

[Images by Charlie B. Ward]

I love the deep plum color and gold-leaf print of this dress. It should be a choice look come the holidays.

Another highlight was this ruffle-skirt dress with a charming whale print. The best part may be the back, which features a cut-out detail tied together with a bow.

Here we have somewhat of a departure from the duo known primarily for mini-dresses and one-piece jumpers. However, I feel the pairing of a long-sleeved shirt and full-length skirt seems stodgy and forced.

All in all, the show seemed to be a charming affair that pulled in an eclectic crowd. Having it at the newly-remodeled Varsity (boasting an expanded bar and capacity) didn’t hurt – it’s one of the most magical places to see a show in the Twin Cities, and was a definite step up in ambition and scope for the collective of artists, musicians and designers.

MNfashion Week is off to a swinging start! Look for more fashion show reviews and event recaps later this week.

For l'etoile's full schedule of official MNFashion Week events click HERE

For more info on the MNFashion Organization click HERE

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