Monday, September 19, 2011

In Review: Envision Artopia 2011

By Kate Iverson
Photos by Corey Tenold

One thing can be said about Envision's producers and Ignite Models co-owners Allison Hamzehpour and Jessica Cunningham: these chicks run a tight ship. From top to bottom, Envision, held at the Graves 601 Hotel, is a slickly produced extravaganza complete with all the bells and whistles. For instance:

Let it be noted, that, yes, I hashtagged #envision2012. This was a mistake, but at the same time, it wasn't. The very next night I had a realization that I haven't really been paying attention to what year it is, and that I alternately go back and forth thinking it's 2011 AND 2012 for various business-related reasons. This definitely made me wonder how many times I've written/said/hashtagged 2012 this year, and how many people thought I was a dolt because of it. Oh well.

Anyhoo, back to FASHION. For most of the attendees, Envision is one of those events that's more about the atmosphere and the party than it is about appreciating the actual artistry of fashion. Case in point: D-bags hooting and hollering phrases like "shake it girl" as any given model struts down the runway and/or rampant cougar howling when the prerequisite "dude models in swimwear" segment comes on. I used to fly into an artsy elitist rage about such things, but honestly I've long since stopped giving a damn. I live in the Midwest. That's reality.

The cougs loved this one, but let it be said that A. The designer, Kelly Ver Duin had some great pieces with interesting patterns and unusual design and B. chicks in the downtown club scene reach "cougar" status at around age 28.

The show kicked off with some fluttery, elegant looks by Gina Marie Vintage. However, I was somewhat confused by the "vintage" tagline because, aside from subtle nods to bygone eras, these looks had a fresh yet timeless feel to them. The word vintage makes me think of, well, used vintage clothing, and the old lady/mothball smell that comes along with them. Regardless, the collection contained lots of floaty separates that could be easily mixed and matched, and the tailoring and fabric choices were spot on.

Gina Marie Vintage

Kathryn Sterner's line Kathryn V startled me a bit. It was nice to see Kathryn getting a bit more ballsy with her designs and fabrics, but the designer's metallic punctuations reminded me of sci-fi B-movie wardrobe castoffs. Not to say the designs themselves wouldn't have worked with another fabric--they definitely would have. Sterner also busted out with some delightful jackets that would be perfect for a fancy, all-girl military-themed fox hunt (if such a thing should ever exist), as well as some daring sheers. All in all, a bit all over the place, but a step in a brave direction for Sterner.

Kathryn V

Kelly Ver Duin (who also showed the aforementioned line of cougar-approved men's swimwear) made a smart debut with a bold array of thoughtfully designed men's button-ups and shorts. And although the tailored shorts/shirts plus bowtie combo is a bit tired at this point, her pattern/color choices and the way they were incorporated into the designs was quite inventive, and the fact that we've finally got a female designing menswear in town is pretty cool too.

Kelly Ver Duin

Veteran Minneapolis designer Arwyn Birch showed a cute collection of '90s throwback frocks. While the designs themselves were somewhat safe (save for a few interesting collars that stood out to me), the zany patterns were what made her line shine. Calling to mind '90s K-Mart mom shirts (in a good way), Arwyn pulled a bold move by incorporating these flowery oddities into playful looks that could work both day and night.

Arwyn Birch

Kimberly Jurek's line Kjurek was up next. The longtime Envision fave and nationally-sold designer was a bit out of her element with freaky frocks of metallic and crushed velvet. Usually one to work the casual/cool angle like a pro, Jurek's jaunt into what seemed to be holiday attire crossed the line into costumey and was overly girly. Some of her other pieces rang true to the Kjurek trademark however, focusing on strong feminine structures and showcasing Kimberly's knack for effortless elegance.


Taking classic concepts and adding an artful spin: this is what seasoned designer Amanda Christine does best. Clever draping, shoulder pads, and something I jotted down as "a cute flappy thing", were all punctuation notes in her Envision collection. What pleased me most however, was Amanda's spin on the whole "sheer" trend. Instead of going the tried and true "I'm a demure chick wearing romantic, floaty sheers and I don't care who sees my bra" route, Amanda went for darker, boldly patterned sheers that bordered on loud. These trend-dipping looks were juxtaposed with her signature sculptural pieces that always tend to catch my eye.

Amanda Christine

Yqy by Vivian hit the runway and punched the audience in the face with a clownish combo of heavy fabrics, brash patterns, and "wearable art" sensibilities. Good tailoring aside, these looks freaked me the hell out and made me contemplate the concept of "felting" for a good 20 seconds...20 seconds I'll never get back. All being an asshole aside, I'd love to see some of these looks in normal fabrics, because while the materials and patterns were jarring, the designs themselves weren't half bad.

Yqy by Vivian

New-to-Minneapolis designer Caroline Hayden made a sparkly debut on the Envision runway with a collection of sequined skirts and dresses, bedazzled leggings, and a curve-hugging black velvet number that would definitely make the goth boys cry. However, I didn't find any of the actual designs to be very inventive, it seemed the sparkle was the biggest wow-factor. I loved her distressed black sequin dress, but the pink pencil skirt version reminded me of dead mermaid skin for some reason. But hey, dead mermaids are still pretty.

Caroline Hayden

I could stay up all night reviewing the boutiques too, which all had lovely, well-styled showings, but you'll just have to take my word for it. Envision is a long show, and I only have so much brainpower. Cliche, I have to note, made their customary finale splash with cute looks by local designers paired with gorgeously brazen feather headdresses and long feather earrings by KR Designs. Styling for the whopping 90+ looks was provided by the up n' comers from Secrets Fashion Agency, who raised the bar with altogether better, if not safe, styling inspiration than in past years. All in all, another well produced show by the Envision crew!


1 comment:

Green Eye Musings said...

I believe at least some of the earrings featured in Cliche's portion of the show were Mae J'adore.