Monday, January 25, 2010

Stuff I wrote: 1.21.10-1.27.10

Check out my writing in last week, including my feature story on local boutique Cliché on the eve of next week's "Avoid the Grey" fashion show, next week's Commingle fashion show, graphic designer Mike Cina's relaunch party at Honey, the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Rock the Cradle at the MIA/Children's Theatre, and the Andy Elwell CD Release Show. Here are a few excerpts:

[Design work by Michael Cina]

Thursday 1/21: 'I Work for Me' (via
After establishing the renowned design agency YouWorkForThem in 2002, graphic designer and visual artist Mike Cina is now working for himself. With his latest venture, Cina is working on trademark and branding jobs, as well as a custom typeface for the likes of Victoria's Secret. First up, though, is a T-shirt collaboration with fashion designer Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman of "Project Runway." The launch party will include free appetizers, drink specials and giveaways. -Jahna Peloquin

[A look by Elizabeth Chesney/Image by Tony Nelson]

Wednesday 1/27: Commingle IV: Fashion Show at Fine Line Music Cafe (Via
The fourth annual event, produced by arts nonprofit E-three, mixes avant-garde fashion with various dance media and live music. This year includes fashions from edgy designers Elizabeth Chesney, a Voltage alum with a penchant for black leather and fringe, and SoHo Exchange, last seen crafting kicky dresses out of vinyl billboard advertisements. The fashion show will be juxtaposed with ballet, hip-hop, reggae and contemporary dance by Tundra Ladies and Universal Dance Destiny, and music from Niknyc and DJs Naughtyboyy, Chris Castle and Blowtorch. -Jahna Peloquin

Where local fashion fits (Via
How an Uptown boutique accidentally became an incubator for homegrown design.
By Jahna Peloquin

[Josh and Delayna Sundberg, owners of Cliche. Photo by Tom Sweeney]

When Cliché opened on May 1, 2004, at 2403 Lyndale Av. S. in Minneapolis, "local fashion" was an anomaly in the Twin Cities. The fashion shows that did exist were disorganized, underground affairs. Few if any clothing stores carried locally produced designs.

"People weren't really making stuff people could wear," said Josh Sundberg, the boutique's co-owner. A trip into Cliché's basement confirms that. Think patch-covered dresses and tops with purposefully unhemmed edges and hand stitching from yesteryear's local designers -- definitely not looks that would fly in 2010. "But I think there was a tinge of excitement," Sundberg continued, "because there was this national DIY scene growing at the time, and people wanted to make that happen here."

Cliché's foray into quality local fashion was, in fact, something of a happy accident. "We thought we were opening a vintage store," said fellow co-owner Delayna Sundberg (Josh's wife). "So we had a lot of mediocre vintage and some stuff from Japan, and some local stuff, and it was really rough. There was no theme -- it was just kind of thrown together."

Things seemed to change when the store picked up local designer Kerry Riley, now a veteran of local fashion. "She had it all together," Delayna said. "She had a label, a business. She taught us her standard, and we kind of went from there." The Sundbergs became more business-savvy, raising their standards, figuring out what sold and what didn't and encouraging designers to create full-size runs. Today, the quality in the racks housing local designs is hardly distinguishable from that in the racks of national, factory-made lines.

Meanwhile, local runway shows were becoming more prevalent. After participating in several disorganized shows in dank bars and clubs, the Sundbergs began producing their own shows, the first of which marked their second anniversary. "It was random and weird and people showed up with their own models," Delayna recalled.

Today, Cliché's shows are increasingly sophisticated and cohesive. Sitting runway-side at its annual "Avoid the Grey" show, you'd hardly know you were at a locally produced show, put together with minimal budget. High-quality hair and makeup styling, professional models, a soundtrack helmed by the city's top DJs and foam-at-the-mouth-worthy fashions have made Avoid the Grey consistently a hot ticket.

And Cliché's role as an incubator for local fashion continues. At next week's Avoid the Grey show, the boutique introduces its two newest designers, Emily Bryngelson and Rachel Delange. Bryngelson is definitely one to watch -- her premiere line was a hit at Cliché last fall. The designer credits her summer internship working at Cliché with much of her initial success.

"The Minneapolis fashion scene has gained so much momentum, thanks largely to Josh and Delayna," said Kerry Riley. In Cliché, the designer found a sense of community for the first time in years. "I had been to a couple other [boutiques] and had the door shut on me," she recalls. "They were the first place to be open-arms. They're just hugely supportive."

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