by Beth Hammarlund
The Shows have no doubt become the highlight of MNfashion Week. The series of runway presentations features a handful of designers each night, offering a tasteful restrained canvas on which our best local talent can showcase their work.
Nicole Larson opened The Shows on Tuesday night with what may wind up being the most unexpected collection of MNfashion Week. Inspired by a recent trip to Romania, her collection incorporated traditional Slavic garb, but with a contemporary flair. What could have been a very costumey series of looks (the designer finds much of inspiration in film) actually translated as completely wearable. Though to be fair, probably not completely wearable for the average Minnesotan, but there were plenty of women in the audience who could have easily pulled off the designer’s ornately decorated minidresses. Not everything was a home run – the collection started out a bit slowly, but picked up steam as it went along – but once she found her groove, the presentation became something unique and accomplished.
Not one to shy away from the dramatic, Larson closed her show with an over-the-top finale look. The runway shows during MNfashion Week can be a little low on spectacle, and the theatricality of the look clearly satisfied some unspoken craving in the audience. Now she just needs to find the same gravitas for her opening looks.
Next up was Lindsey Hopkins, a new figure in the Twin Cities fashion scene, though her collection will most certainly establish her as one of our most valuable creative resources. Though I initially found her palette of violets, mauves and taupes rather underwhelming (after all, it was shown right after Nicole Larson’s collection of red, fuchsia and cobalt), as her looks continued down the runway, one couldn’t help but adjust to the subdued tone and appreciate the understated nature of her color choices. The stunning collection of dresses and separates ranged from tiny leather shorts to elegant cocktail dresses ornamented with fluttering micropleats.
A symmetrical digital print of lounging nudes on silk charmeuse was beautifully executed and provided just enough of the necessary levity to lend a sense of self-awareness to the display. The entire series of looks was impeccably made and thoughtfully designed, each piece building on the next and adding depth to the collection. The designer’s price point is a bit high, though fair. It will be interesting to see how her work sells in local boutiques.
Christopher Straub closed the evening with a collection of insect and flower-inspired sheaths and gowns. Though his bee and honeycomb prints were certainly charming, under the harsh lights of the runway, the textiles didn’t do them justice. Though the majority of his prints were printed on organic cotton, there was something in the final result that read as synthetic. A shame when a designer is working with natural fibers and having so much fun with prints. Despite my disappointment in the fabric, I still coveted a full-length honeycomb print dress with black mesh insets. With the model’s high ponytail and defined eyebrows, the effect was delightfully mod.
In order to incorporate Straub’s men’s underwear into the show, a male model accompanied a female model down the runway. In addition to wearing only a tiny pair of undies (except for the S&M mask and shoulder harness), he was escorted on a leash while carrying luggage. It was a strange and confusing bondage moment that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the presentation.
A charming seafoam green dress followed by a jacket of the same material comprised his office wear, and it was a delight to see his vision of American workwear. I would like more of that, please. An adorable black faux leather box purse was also an adorable work-appropriate accessory. One of his last looks, a blue and green printed cocktail dress of origami folds, was a clear winner with the audience, many of whom audibly gasped. More of that as well, please. A full-length version would have made for a show-stopping finale.
The team from HAUS Salon and Blowdry! Blowdry Bar was on hair and makeup duty again (they also styled Blacklist Vintage’s in-store event, “Vintage Did It First” (reviewed HERE) as well as Thursday’s incarnation of The Shows for Emma Berg and Samantha Rei) and, as usual, their work was fashion-forward and tasteful. Topknots reigned over the first two segments, but were adorably released into swingy ponytails for Straub’s segment. Event production appeared to be a breeze, with all of the elements working smoothly and no apparent glitches or timing issues. My only critique is none of the segments were announced prior to the first model walking down the runway. True, they started right on time and in sync with the schedule that appeared on the program, but in each case, there were still plenty of guests in line for the restroom or milling about with their drinks. A theater-style end-of-intermission announcement may be in order.
All photos by Rhea Pappas for MNfashion