Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MSP Fashion Week in review: The Shows f. Emma Berg, Amanda Christine & Kimberly Jurek

Text by Beth Hammarlund
Photos by Corey Tenold

After a successful debut in spring 2011, The Shows returned for another MNfashion Week. Held at 514studios in the Warehouse District, the show featured a trio of local favorites KJurek by Kimberly Jurek, Emma Berg, and Amanda Christine showing fall/Winter 2012 collections.

Jurek opened the show with an easy cabernet-colored dress with delicate straps and a playfully uneven hem. It didn't push any boundaries, but certainly had the elegant and tasteful quality that Jurek is known for. A black cowl neck winter cape was a standout piece, followed by a floaty dress in a green and black print that my seatmate and I simultaneously called dibs on.

Unfortunately, the majority of Jurek's capsule collection was underwhelming and lacked variety. Dresses were repeated in varying colors and lengths, giving the presentation a sense of redundency. Several plunging cowl neck dresses felt dated.

The makeup was striking, and much like some of Jurek's best looks, the hair was feminine and unfussy. Accessories by KR Designs punctuated the collection, and while the pieces were outstanding, in several cases chunky necklaces competed with the necklines of dresses.

Emma Berg's collection, entitled "Que Sera Sera," was a combination of good manners and unbridled girlishness. The clothes were feminine and fun nods to artist Frank Gaard, whose work inspired the collection and showed up on several pieces. Neon pinks, greens and blues played against pale dove grays and creamy ivories. Peter Pan collars created a youthful, almost childish, impression, while bulbous sleeves recalled the unapologetic drama of the '80s. Conservative tweeds with fluorescent details were perfectly suited for a fanciful rave.

There were several looks that worked in the context of the collection, but may not hold up on their own. A well-tailored tweed strapless dress with tangerine fur edging seemed right at home during the presentation, but may not retain that same appeal as an individual item on the rack. One of the more contraversial looks featured a model in a sheer fuchsia blouse with her breasts daintily covered by Tribble-like appliqués. Or maybe they were more like furry fried eggs. Either way, it got people talking, and I personally loved the unrestrained silliness.

Berg designs for women who want to use clothing to push their creative limits, but some of the separates in this collection were positively demure. Basic skirts were made special with unexpected gathers and hot pink stitching. A great way for a more conservative dresser to explore Berg's work.

The looks were elevated by light-hearted styling. Models walked in white tights spotted with pink hearts and neon pink plastic hoop earrings. Hair was accented with pinks, oranges, bluesm and greens, and neon eyelashes brought to mind the exaggerated doll-like style of Japan's Ageha girls.

Amanda Christine is certainly one of the most successful designers in the Twin Cities, selling her pieces at boutiques across the country. But this was her first hometown show in some time, and expectations were high. She presented a beautifully executed collection with great commercial appeal.

There was certainly an air of the '70s in her separates, and some of her sweater dresses were perfectly suited for jet-setting woman in the '60s. The palette explored shades of purple and merlot, while paisley was a major element in many of the looks. I'm personally not a huge fan of paisley prints, but the choice of print did align with the '70s working woman she seemed to be channeling.

The entire presentation was solid, but felt a bit uninspired. The palette and shapes were incredibly restrained, as if Christine had set specific limits prior to starting the collection and wouldn't consider coloring outside the lines. I'd love to see her relax her grip on the reins and see where her designs take her.

The Shows continues to be a highlight of Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week, and we're already anxious to find out which designers will be involved next season.

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