First on my Saturday night agenda was the Soo Visual Arts Center's annual "Get Lucky" benefit, in which some of its longtime artists donated pieces of their work in a silent auction. My good friend Teri Anvid - a former fixture of the Minneapolis art scene and photographer who moved to Atlanta a couple of years ago - was serving on the welcoming committee for the event.
As benefits are intrinsically great people-watching and chatty events. I chatted with Teri, Kate Iverson of Secrets of the City and l'etoile magazine, designer Emma Berg (my date for the night), and Kate's date for the night, Michael Thomsen - a fantastic artist who shows his amazingly detailed pieces (which lie somewhere between collage, sculpture, and painting) regularly at Rogue Buddha Gallery. As for Kate, she had donated a piece to the show - this supercool photograph:
I also caught up with MIA curator Christopher Atkins, who helms the museum's MAEP gallery (which showcases local artists); Mark and Alyssa Fox, the brother and sister duo behind Fox Tax; Christian Erickson, partner of interactive marketing agency Zeus Jones, which was hosting some of the festivities next door; Carolyn Payne, executive director of SooVAC (whose extremely talented husband Terrence Payne had also donated a piece to the show); and artists Sean Smuda, Rob McBroom, and Jennifer Davis, all of whom also had pieces in the show. Here's a smattering of some of my favorite pieces on display:
[Art by Terrence Payne. Photo by Jahna Peloquin]
[Art by Rob McBroom. Photo by Jahna Peloquin]
[Art by Jennifer Davis. Photo by Jahna Peloquin]
[Art by Greg Gossel. Photo by Jahna Peloquin]
[Art by Amelia Biewald. Photo by Jahna Peloquin]
Though it seemed like a smaller turnout than previous years (though this could be due to the fact that this was the first year the gallery was doing the benefit in their new, smaller space), it seemed to be a success - I got word that a number of the pieces sold for higher than their retail value, and bidding wars erupted over a number of pieces (including Biewald's piece, which sold for $750 to Emma Berg). It was also heartwarming to see longtime SooVAC artists that have gone onto increasing success, such as Greg Gossel (who regularly shows internationally and on the coasts) and Amelia Biewald (now based in New York) continue to participate in the show.
[Emma Berg, Jaime Carrera and me. Photo: Claire Molepske for Vita.mn]
[Jack Randol & Jake Thompson. Photo: Claire Molepske for Vita.mn]
Click here for more Get Lucky photos by Claire Molepske for Vita.mn.
By 9 p.m., it was time to head to the Avoid the Grey, the annual late winter fashion show put on by local boutique Cliche. It has always primarily showcased the shop's strong roster of local designers, and in recent years owners Josh and Delayna Sundberg have given the show fun themes and theatricality, always within the intimate confines of the Old Arizona Theater. Even though the demand for the show (and local fashion) grows with every passing year - this year, they even added a third show, which promptly sold out - Josh told me that though he wishes they would go to a larger venue, Delayna has insisted on keeping the show intimate and cozy. It's keeping with the homegrown, relaxed feel of the shop itself, after all.
As is the case, the 9:30 p.m. show started around 15 minutes late - showgoers were still getting drinks, after all. But the relaxed vibe gave us opportunity to chat with the crowd, including front row-mates Mary O'Regan of METRO Magazine and stylist Molly Roark; Cliche designers Ivan Idland and Kerry Riley (of Needle & Black); art director Chris Larson; knitwear designer Kevin Kramp; and photographer Sohail Akhavein.
The show started off with a Elvis vs. the cops opening keeping with the "Jailhouse Rock" theme. It was a clumsily cheesy start to what turned out to be a fun theme throughout the rest of the show. During each themed segment, designers were shown with faux cuts and bruises on a screen behind the stage, holding mugshot-style boards. In a twist from previous years, each designer was asked to design three unique pieces specifically for one of six themes: floral, ’50s housewife, ’60s bohemian, ’70s glamour, polka dots and white-meets-neon - as worn by Ignite models.
Highlights of the show included Amanda Christine's all-white mini-collection - very much on the minimalism trend that's hot for spring. The cotton and pleather jacket and pant combo prompted Chris Larson to say he wanted the suit in all-white, a la Tilda Swinton, while Emma Berg favored the pleather-top dress. One of the city's most successful designers (she's selling her manufactured line at over 30 boutiques nationwide), it's clear that Amanda has her eye on trends and knows how to translate them into her extremely wearable and flattering aesthetic.
[Looks by Amanda Christine. Photos by Jahna Peloquin]
The ever-busy Danielle Everine (who's currently gearing up for Voltage '11 while balancing a new design position with Target) showed some sheer, filmy pieces that hinted at her all-sheer upcoming spring collection. Everine can be counted on to always deliver a solid, well-crafted line that has a strong, signature aesthetic, and this showing was no exception.
[Looks by Danielle Everine. Photos by Marty and Shirley Andreasen for Cliche]
Another extremely busy designer, Kathryn Sterner, showed some lovely floral mixed-print pieces for her line Kathryn V., including a belly-baring floral mixed-print dress that would be right at home at Anthropologie. Sterner has shown herself to be one-to-watch since her rough-around-the-edges debut at Cliche a year ago. Look for her at her February 18 University of Minnesota senior show (yes, she's still a student) and Voltage '11.
[Looks by Kathryn V. Bottom photo by Marty and Shirley Andreasen for Cliche; middle & top photos by Jahna Peloquin
Sarah M. Holm's been making herself into one-to-watch with her increasingly sophisticated, tailored yet no less edgy designs. Her polka-dot, retro-styled two-piece swimsuit was a show favorite. Look for Holm up next in Voltage '11.
Maritza Ramirez showed a typically girlish collection of a structured dress, pencil skirt and cape she told me was made from upholstery fabric. Adorable and well-constructed as it was, though, the fit was off on her shiny silver dress.
Renate Adjei, a longtime Cliche designer who hasn't shown in some time, made us remember what we were missing with her perfectly tailored, feminine dresses in lush fabrics.
Kimberly Jurek of K.Jurek, with Cliche from the very beginning, showed three floral-print, easy-breezy spring dresses. One thing is clear: Jurek knows what sells for her and knows her aesethetic and her customer.
Niki English, freshly returned from an internship with Zac Posen in NYC, translated her signature dark, edgy look for her line Niki Couture to white - a super-chic body-con white dress with sheer panels was a standout. I'm looking forward to seeing her collection at the U of M senior show.
[Looks by Niki Couture. Photos by Marty and Shirley Andreasen for Cliche]
Longtime Cliche designer Ivan Idland offered a surprisingly different style with his looks: a fitted jacket with blousy, high-waisted shorts; a fun, ruffle-skirted dress; and a slinky, printed drop-waist mini-dress. Perhaps Idland is thinking more of saleability and wearability over his typical vintagey silhouettes, but I'm intrigued to see what the designer does for his Voltage '11 collection.
[Looks by Ivan Idland. Photos by Jahna Peloquin]
Some mixed bag showings included Christine Carmichael of Carmichael Claith, who managed to make only three pieces lack cohesion - but her champagne-colored lace dress was at once highly wearable, saleable, and chic. I'm hoping she moves in this direction rather than her poofy, overly girlish style.
New Cliche designer Steevie.B showed promise with a couple of cute, wearable looks - a wonderfully constructed cropped teal linen jacket was a standout piece, as was a fun printed '60s-style swing dress. But her hoop-skirted mini dress looked like a craft project gone bad. Still, she established herself as one to watch.
Kerry Riley of Needle & Black showed a uncharacterically disconnected collection of pieces, including a casual knit top with leggings, and a baby blue girlish skirt with black bodice. No way was this Riley, I thought to myself. But a black sheer lace tailored dress shown with a red patent bow belt was true Riley - at once tailored, sexy and sweet. Perhaps she was trying to break out of her aesthetic but Riley should stick to her strengths - this is why we know and love her.
Jenny Carle, who's been a strong seller for Cliche, has seemed to increasingly show sophisticated and chic looks. But this wasn't the case last night. Everything from the styling (which was not the distinctly girly look Carle is known for) to the fabric and construction seemed subpar coming from the experienced designer - and the three pieces shown appeared to be from three different collections. I don't get it. I hope she brings back her pretty dresses later this spring. But I did love the fun plastic jewelry shown with her collection by Bionic Unicorn.
Tender Cuts by Emily Bryngelson (who shipped in her pieces from New York, where she's now living) had been one of my up-and-coming favorites after seeing her debut at Cliche just a year ago. But this collection faltered a bit for me - the jacket-shorts combo looked rather home-sewed and basic, though her ivory lace-print dress was pretty. I have come to expect more detail and thought from Bryngelson - I hope this was a rare misstep for the young designer.
Cliche is known for bringing in fresh-faced designers that (as Kathryn Sterner and Niki English once were) are a bit rough around the edges when it comes to both construction and defining their aesthetic. Elena Mercurio, Dawson, Rachel Delange, Ashley Busch, Sydney Ilten and ArielSimone (in her Cliche debut) fell into this category, blending into their surroundings too well except for the occasional hanging threads and bunching at the seams. But has been the case in the past, keep your eyes on these designers - the Sundbergs may have yet to work their magic with them.
[Look by ArielSimone. Photo by Marty and Shirley Andreasen for Cliche]