Essential Portland fashion shows

These stylish events showcase local designers and makers.

Fade to LightModels strut their stuff at the biannual Fade To Light fashion experience.
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    Erica J. Mitchell

    There’s no doubt that Portland’s creative “maker” spirit fosters a spectacular fashion scene. In fact, our town has spawned more Project Runway contestants — and winners — than any other city. See stunning examples of the city’s unique style at these can’t-miss fashion events.


    Downtown Portland’s historic Crystal Ballroom plays host to this multidimensional fashion experience, which encourages designers to get as creative as possible with their runway presentations. Created in 2012 by celebrated local fashion event producer Elizabeth Mollo, Fade To Light is now staged each February and August. Expect the unexpected at this whimsical event — past shows have featured such spectacles as local designer Sharon Blair having her hair hacked off onstage for Locks of Love and Project Runway finalist Bryce Black hiring dancer-models that busted out a booty-shaking Beyoncé routine in the middle of the catwalk.


    Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this annual exposition at Portland’s hip Doug Fir Lounge showcases the city’s best lingerie offerings. The cheeky event typically draws a younger, fun-loving crowd, with designs by locals like Make It Good and Lille Boutique running the gamut from lacy bits to everyday undies for all genders.

    ALLEY 33: JULY

    Another Elizabeth Mollo production, Alley 33 takes “shop local” to a new level: All items on the runway must be available for purchase in Portland. The mid-summer show takes place in the alley of Southeast 33rd and Hawthorne, and features fashions from easy-fit casual wear to haute couture. Producers take care to showcase local manufacturers of all stripes, including silk-screeners, cobblers, up-cyclists and production designers.


    Declared “Portland’s Official Fashion Week” by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, FashioNXT takes place in Portland’s chic Pearl District every October. Expect appearances by a handful of Project Runway all-stars — previous participants include Michelle Lesniak, Seth Aaron, Mondo Guerra and Viktor Luna — amidst an array of local and international talent. The show particularly excels at pushing the boundaries of stylish wearable technology, making headlines as the first major runway show to use smart eyewear and by hosting a wearable tech fashion competition judged by creatives from Nike, Google and Intel.

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