Portland style, shopping, trends.
By Monique Balas, NEAT contributor
Last night’s close of Portland Fashion Week 2010  was a study in contrasts and continents, with palettes ranging from ethnic to eggshell and both near and far-flung designers from North and South America to Europe. We saw earthy, relaxed styles that were in sharp contrast to the urban and futuristic looks presented during Saturday night’s Project Runway designer showings , but closing night was satisfying still.
The surprising stunner was Amelia Toro’s colorful collection  of classic shapes infused with indigenous prints (top), using a color palette of vibrant reds, blues, blacks and oranges. We like to think the Colombian-born designer was channeling Chanel, if Coco were a Kuna Indian. The line’s very first piece — a black shift with a sequined collar, covered with native designs and tied in the back — grabbed our attention right away and made us feel like our little black dresses are way too plain. We loved the way she played with pleats and print color-blocking, and how a black-and-white geometric print turned a Heidi-style outfit with a school-girl skirt into a sophisticated dress.
Overall, Toro’s was a cohesive collection that used many of the same elements without any one dress looking the same. Her line achieved a perfect balance of cultural chic without being the least bit kitschy. We’d like to celebrate Columbus Day by buying one of her pieces.
South Dakota label LENZANITA  showed us a much different palette of ecru, eggplant and copper. Princess seams, high necks and keyhole backs on shift dresses and blazers emphasized a 1960’s theme. Lenzanita also played with metallic, such as with the tailored vests for men. One of the more interesting pieces was a tiered wedding dress decorated with a fabric flower bouquet. We’d want to have these pieces tailor-made for us, as many of the items didn’t quite hang right on the models.
French line Ethos Paris  (right) brought us light, comfy basics such as jersey print dresses we would wear to do errands on a spring or summer day. We might mention (if it came up in convo) that our clothes were organic and produced under fair-trade practices, in keeping with PFW’s emphasis on sustainability. The menswear line featured hoodies with cargo shorts, European-style cuffed chinos and button-down collarless shirts. Ethos kept design to a minimum – pleating on a white blouse paired with melon-colored shorts might be the most fancy they get – and watch out for wrinkles.
We went from Paris to Pendleton, Ore., which launched its Pendleton Opening Ceremony  Spring/Summer 2011 collection with a showing of plaids and solids in all shapes and sizes. The first piece was a flirty Navajo-themed collarless dress and then went right to a plaid shirt with a below-bust empire yoke. Our personal fave was a spring-green pleated trench we could definitely wear all year round. Pendleton’s line wasn’t cohesive but it was interesting, ranging from classic cowboy shirts to wrap dresses in silk chiffon to “Mad Men” -style blouses and shift dresses, all tucks and pleat.
The night — and Fashion Week — ended with a showing from local luxury knitwear line Souchi, featuring body-conscious mid-calf dresses, long and lean leisure wear, knee-length open cardis and, of course, designer Suzi Johnson’s signature cashmere bikinis. We did like Souchi’s addition of stripes, such as in the sweater “suit” featuring a striped matching cardigan and skirt. Souchi’s showing of prints also included an abstract black-and-white print dress reminiscent of Missoni.
Overall, Portland Fashion Week was a huge success this year despite very limited resources, said Executive Producer Chris Cone. Nearly 200 people attended the first-ever public market in the Pearl, and buyers and store owners placed orders from many of the presenting designers. The contributions from corporations like SolarWorld as well as from in-kind donors, volunteers and the organizing committee made the whole thing come together. “It went amazingly well and was one of the strongest years we’ve ever had,” Cone said. “Project Runway night pushed us – and Portland – into a new level of limelight.”
Portland Fashion Week
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