Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lookbook: Anne M. Cramer S/S 2012

Lookbook images from the Spring/Summer 2012 collection by local designer Anne M. Cramer have been released, and unsurprisingly, the collection stays true to the designer's aesthetic - cheerily bright, whimsical and preppy, filled with pastel-colored stripes and quirky-cute patterns. I can't help but love the cheeky British-meets-East-Coast-prep oversized paper flower headpieces and props. The 12 spring pieces are available in multiple colorways now on her website for pre-order for April delivery.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Muses + Lenses: Madison Dube shoots Ignite's Ana Cristina

I'm always keeping my eyes open for fresh talents in the local fashion scene, be it photographers, models, stylists, or designers. Speaking of fresh, check out this refreshingly unstyled shoot by fledgling photog Madison Dube with Ignite model Ana Cristina:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Photo(s) of the day: Danielle Everine gets hitched along the river

Local designer Danielle Everine got married on Raspberry Island in St. Paul this past weekend in a wintery, nautical-themed outdoor ceremony along the Mississippi River (wearing a coat of her own design) that included fellow designer Rachel Blomgren's accompaniment on harp. Here Danielle is with her husband David, as shot by Peter Holme. Congrats to the lovely couple!

New designer spotlight: Sara Lopez

At last Saturday's University of Minnesota senior student fashion show, "Twelve," one designer in particular really stood out. Sara Lopez, a Texan-born designer who has interned in Paris and New York, stole the show with her collection of looks in silhouettes that "question the relationship between the body and the garment," according to her designer statement. "Often restricting or distorting the wearers’ movement," it continues, "she provides a different experience while wearing clothing." While the looks are indeed constricting and distorting - unwearable for most people - there's great potential here. Up close, the garments were perfectly constructed. And despite the avant-garde elements of these designs, they are exquisitely tailored and minimalistic, in the vein of Calvin Klein and Stella McCartney. These were some of the freshest, forward-thinking designs to come out of Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week this season - coming from a student, no less. Look for good things to come from this bright star.

Photos by Amy Gee for l'etoile magazine

In case you missed it: Saturday's CBS spot featuring Emma Berg

On Saturday morning, CBS' Twin Cities affiliate featured looks from local designer Emma Berg's Frank Gaard-inspired F/W 2012 collection, which she debuted last Tuesday as part of MNfashion's "The Shows" during Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week. The TV spot is quite the coup for local fashion - which is fairly obscure within the mainstream Metro area - particularly when designs as forward-thinking as Berg's are showcased. Kudos to local stylist extraordinaire Grant Whittaker (who talks about the fashions in the below clip) for putting the spotlight on a talented local designer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Local line Needle & Black launches Etsy store with a deal

Help local line Needle & Black (by longtime local designer Kerry Riley) celebrate the launch of its new Etsy shop with a special offer valid today only. Place an order today and receive 15% off. Take a look at some of the goodies below - including the all-new Needle & Black tees and and various leather accessories - and click here to shop.

MSP Fashion Week in review: "Resurgent"

Despite only being Thursday, last night officially wrapped up the final night of Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week with "Resurgent: A Winter Rock Fashion Show." Though it seemed to take a page out of the handbook from the late, great Voltage: Fashion Amplified (which is officially on hiatus indefinitely) with its mix of rock 'n roll and runway fashion, the show put on by Uptown designer-run boutique You And Me seemed to harken back to a time in the Twin Cities, circa 2005, when DIY fashion was au courant and techno reigned. Take a look back at photos from the first two Voltage fashion shows, and you'll see what I mean. Back then, fashion had a punk rock, we-don't-give-a-fuck attitude: Yes, we MEANT to leave that hem undone. Yes, the hair is SUPPOSED to look like that. No, it's not SUPPOSED to be wearable. And you know what? It was a pretty fun, theatrical, and over-the-top time. It was entertainment.

But things have evolved in local fashion over the past five or six years. Voltage went from a flipping-the-bird-to-the-Man, rock 'n roll-centric event some zany fashions to a cleaned-up, professional runway fashion event with some live bands. Designers started moving out of the nightclub circuit to host their own polished runway shows in art galleries, raw studio spaces, and posh hotel ballrooms. They've begun creating size runs (as opposed to simply one-of-a-kind garments in a model size 2), manufacturing their lines, learning how to sew a proper hem, promoting themselves, creating lookbooks, selling their lines in stores across the country, and learning how to sew a proper hem. It may not be cool or punk rock, but it's the start to making a successful living as an independent designer.

Enough backstory - let's get to the review of last night's show. As I said, "Resurgent" was produced by designer-run store You And Me, home to brother clothing designers Tim and Thom Navarro, clothing designer Deborah Block, and jewelry designer Katy Vereide. The 27 looks shown under the collective You And Me label had a sort of post-apocalyptic, survivalist bent to them, most literally in a look that included a floor-length duster, gas mask and combat boots. By committing to showing so many looks, it appears the designers spread themselves a little thin. Hems were badly sewn (or left unhemmed for that purposeful "distressed" look), zippers were ham-handedly inserted, and garments were oddly fitted and proportioned on the whole. Many of the men's pants, for instance, were too-tight in the crotch and butt, but loose everywhere else.

Many of the looks were not only unwearable - which isn't always a detriment in my eyes - but plain odd, nonsensical and ugly, like a men's cropped suit jacket, an extremely weird men's poncho paired with inexplicable fingerless gloves, and a plaid women's cape in which the arms poked out of scarf-like sleeves. For all this talk about utilitarian, survivalist fashion, much of what was shown was just plain unwearable.

There were a few pieces that stood out as genuinely well-designed and intriguing, such as an extremely well-cut leather motorcycle jacket and denim-and-leather pants, as well as a structured, blazer-like cape - what an extremely chic, clean, and unique piece! They served as testaments to the potential of these designers if they could only edit and fine-tune.

It must be said they do not lack of ambition, ideas or vision - things many aspiring designers are sorely without. The worst thing is to be boring, and the show was anything but - complete with theatrical hair, makeup and staging. But as Twin Cities fashion works to become a sustainable industry and local designers begin expanding in markets beyond Minnesota, shows that focus on concept over execution are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Handout photos by Nic Abrego

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Video: MNfashion presents The Shows f. Emma Berg

Check out this video featuring Tuesday night's showing of Emma Berg's Fall/Winter 2012 collection presented as part of MNfashion's The Shows during Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week. Click here to read my review of the show.

Hair & makeup styling: HAUS Salon
Fashion styling: Jane Belfry
Models provided by Vision Management Group and Ignite Models Inc.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Video: "Twelve" University of Minnesota Senior Fashion Show

Check out this lovingly shot video compilation by photographer Amy Gee from Saturday's "Twelve" University of Minnesota senior fashion show, featuring 11 senior designers: Jennifer Robertus, Andrea Sittler, Stephanie Hillman, Gabby Goetz, Carol Fallabeck, Diana Zhyhar, Silvia Guttmann, Sara Lopez, Lizzie Hillmann, and Laura van Riper.

twelve from amy gee on Vimeo.

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

It's no secret that our homegrown fashion week has undergone a significant transformation this year. After the past few seasons saw the week of events having ramped up to a breakneck pace, with multiple events sometimes overlapping on the same night, this year the lineup has been whittled down considerably, moved from April to February, and gotten a name change (from MNfashion Week to the more official-sounding Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week). Growing pains aside, last night's reprisal of the Shows - a series of official runway events showcasing full Fall/Winter 2012 collections from the cities' top emerging designers - made a bold case for the fledgling fashion industry in the Twin Cities.

Kimberly Jurek and Amanda Christine - longtime friends and collaborators who have paired up on shows in the past - bookended the evening with collections that showcased their knack for producing retail-friendly, wearable designs. It's no wonder that they're two of the few young designers in town to find success selling their lines in dozens of stores across the country. For her part, Jurek showed one of her most sophisticated lines to date, full of sheer silks and draped knit jersey dresses and separates that emanated chic, relaxed elegance (which were perfectly paired with bold pieces by local jewelry line KR Designs). Unfortunately, this new streamlined effort from Jurek seemed to whitewash some of her personality, particularly felt in the lack of vintage touches and outerwear (excepting one fantastically chic cape-coat) - two of the designer's strengths.

Meanwhile, Amanda Christine stuck to her strengths, showing a great mix of well-cut dresses, skirts, jackets and tops that offered just enough eye-catching, subtle details - cutouts, colorblocking, asymmetry - to make each piece feel special, fresh, and dynamic enough to easily mix-and-match into a modern woman's wardrobe. Especially mouth-watering were the elegantly-cut, chunky knit sweaters and circle scarves - a new addition to the designer's ever-expanding repertoire. (It must be said, though, that the designer lacks an eye for prints; her shiny paisley prints were a bit of an eyesore.) The designer smartly left on each chair a glossy lookbook highlighting the looks from the richly -hued collection - a great takeaway for clients to peruse while planning their orders.

But the fashion with a capital F moment came with Emma Berg's startlingly realized, ambitious and inspired 20-look collection. The eye-poppingly colorful line, entitled "Que Sera Sera," heeded Berg's background as an arts curator, taking inspiration in large part from iconic Minneapolis painter Frank Gaard, not only in its pastel-with-neon-pops color palette and general spirit, but in a couple pieces of imagery culled directly from his work, rendered in shiny, happy, hand-embroidered sequins. One, "Swan Head on Branch", appeared draped over the shoulder of a dress and a puffy white coat, simultaneously seeming to reference Björk's infamous swan dress. (Berg is, after all, the Björk of the Twin Cities, isn't she?)

But the inspiration didn't end with the Gaard homage. Berg carried over her love for Mongolian goat hair, inserting neon-dyed bits of it as trim throughout and utilizing it in a short, chubby fur coat dyed every color of the rainbow - inspired by "My Little Pony," Berg told me - with help from master colorist Mark DeBolt of HAUS Salon, which styled the delightfully zany, neon-dipped hair and makeup for the show (pastel eyelashes, oh my!). The collection also nodded toward Chanel and Marc Jacobs with some prim, buttoned-up looks, contrasting nicely with the mad-looking styling, without being overly referential. Above all, it was refreshingly fun, at once unpretentious and subversive.

Of all Twin Cities designers, it can be easily said that Berg is one of the few (among, say, Kevin Kramp and Max Lohrbach) who are truly internationally-minded, pushing the boundaries of fashion beyond a local level into true inspiration, and dare I say, art.