by Beth Hammarlund
The second installment of “The Shows” included looks from MAI, Marissa Bridges and Adrienne Yancy. A diverse trio of designers, the pieces shown ranged from yogawear to sequined cocktail dresses.
MAI opened the show with a collection of activewear. The brand, a collaboration between young designers Emma Holdomb and Sarah McArdle, endeavored to present looks that could easily go from yoga to dinner, and their collection was surprisingly street-wearable. Barefoot models came down the runway in yoga pants, skirts and wrap-around sports bras in black, charcoal gray, chartreuse and eggplant. Cozy hoods were both stylish and comfortable, and their detailed sports bras were athletic and sexy. Activewear is not the most exciting thing to see come down a runway, but it was a pleasant change of pace from the week’s other collections and the designs were executed beautifully. Hair and makeup were provided by Taj Salon, and though no major risks were taken (it wouldn’t make much sense to pair an avant-garde updo with yoga pants), the styling was beautifully executed. The upside-down French braided top knot made an appearance, still one of the trendiest ways to get your hair off of your neck on a busy day.
Marissa Bridges followed, presenting a collection of dresses and separates that drew heavily from ’80s and early ’90s trends. In some cases, the looks succeeded. Pieces in sea green and a wash of neon that was reminiscent of hypercolor were charming and unexpected, and the penultimate dress, an unapologetically-fun sequined number with an open back had me instinctively reaching for my wallet. But other attempts fell flat, such as the finale dress, a piece that felt dated and rather tasteless. Bridges clearly has original and appealing ideas, as well as a lovely sense of color, but in order to present a more successful and cohesive collection, she will need to approach her work with a curator’s eye as much as a designer’s.
Adrienne Yancy, designing under her brand ArielSimone, closed the evening, a fitting choice due to both her local and national exposure and success. Her collection of swimwear and dresses was far more appealing on the runway than in photographs. The lookbook image of one dress in particular, a full-length number in bright blocked prints, inspired concern, but as it came down the runway my opinion was quickly revised to “Awesome. Want that.” It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. Her swimwear was both revealing and flattering, reflecting her ability and choice to showcase rather than camouflage a woman’s curves. Unfortunately, several looks in the presentation were forgettable filler, and one of the final looks, a long blue gown, didn’t pack the same punch as some of her previous looks. Sometimes it’s as if Yancy knows her customer better than she knows herself, relying on restraint when she could be pushing forward. But that’s the rub. A designer has to create art for a customer. I would just love to see what she could do if the only person that she was concerned with pleasing was herself.
Let’s get back to those lookbooks. This year, MNfashion was able to release lookbooks for several designers participating in The Shows, complete with photos and descriptions, and in some cases, wholesale and retail prices. This, along with the decision to show Spring 2013 looks during the fall, is a major step forward for the organizations and participating designers. If you want to do this for a living, this is how you do it. It will be interesting to see how this fresh focus on retail influences Twin Cities boutiques this spring.
All photos by Rhea Pappas for MNfashion