Sunday, April 15, 2012

In review: "Envision: Artopia" Spring 2012

Every six months, an avalanche of fashion descends upon Minneapolis in the form of "Envision: Artopia." The annual two-part fashion show jams together 15 individual runway segments (eight local designers, six local boutiques), a bass-thumping soundtrack, and art on display from nine local artists spread throughout three hours within the glitzy, club-like atmosphere of the Graves 601 Hotel fifth floor ballroom.

The design team of Sara Lopez and Lizzie Hillmann, both standouts in February's University of Minnesota senior show, were the most forward-thinking, showing a feminine yet futuristic collection of cream and pastel-colored looks expertly-rendered in pleather and stiff cotton. It may not have been the most wearable collection, but it certainly showed perspective and experimentation - something all young designers should be exhibition.

Caroline Hayden and Gina Marie Vintage, both of whom debuted at last fall's "Envision," also earned points, Hayden with her glitzy, sophisticated collection that evoked modern-day Studio 54 and Gina Marie, whose sheer ponchos and drawstring silk shorts would appeal to the Urban Outfitters hipster and jet-setting sophisticate alike.

Caroline Hayden
Gina Marie Vintage

Another surprise was longtime menswear designer Russell Bourrienne's first foray into womenswear, and his adept tailoring skills were perfectly translated to the female form. His ivory cape-yoked trench coat and green cape-trench were simply to-die.

Local shop Cliché's segment, as always, featured the most inventive styling of the evening. The theme, which I would liken to "acid-boho," consisted of layers-upon-layers, zany legwear and contrasting patterns, accented with custom shoes decorated with Good and Plentys, comically big neon sunglasses and extra-large lollipops.

And while the sensory onslaught is clearly a big draw for the nearly-sold-out event, it's unavoidable that some of the finer details would get lost amongst the shouting. The art was all but invisible in the crowded hall. And with a couple of exceptions, much of the styling looked like an afterthought - clearly the result of one team of stylists of being spread too thin having to style nearly 150 looks in one night. A look from Karma that included a boho top and a scarf tied around the model's head, Hendrix-style, was particularly costumey, and local designer Amanda Christine's chic, sophisticated collection was inexplicably topped with Jackie O-esque headscarves and oversized sunglasses. Meanwhile, local designer Kathryn V's breezy but plain collection was shown with literal Crowns of Thorns - surely an unfortunate but unintentional correlation.

Kathryn V
Amanda Christine

Another side product of showcasing emerging designers are the occasional missteps. Autumn Kirchman's collection of bridal-y, Victorian-inspired looks were poorly constructed and fitted, rendered in cheap-looking, too-shiny polyester fabric, and showed poor taste on all fronts. Though no newcomers to the game, CounterCouture also showed poor judgment with their use of shiny, shiny fabric, which only serves to exaggerate every puckered seam and was not well-fitted on their models. It should be said that the line uses fabric recycled from bridesmaid dresses, and while admirable in intention, there is a reason people get rid of their bridesmaid dresses.

Autumn Kirchman

Despite its relative shortcomings, "Envision" is the rare show that provides emerging designers with an audience for their work, as well as a platform for most established designers and retailers to maintain a presence - and hopefully make some new customers in the process.

Photos by Corey Tenold Photography
Originally posted at

No comments:

Post a Comment