by Beth Hammarlund
The Shows have become the flagship events of Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week, featuring high-production runway presentations of some of the Twin Cities’ most talented designers. This year, the Shows took place over two nights, the first of which was held Thursday evening at Aria in downtown Minneapolis. Each night featured five designers, and Thursday night we were treated to Fall/Winter collections from Gina Marie Vintage, Nicole Larson, Max Lohrbach, Kjurek and Ivan Idland.
Gina Marie Vintage
The first collection came from Gina Marie Vintage. Models came down the runway in separates and dresses, accessorized with loose casual waves and cute berets. Though there were some hits in the collection (a creamy jersey dress was made for a Bonnie and Clyde-era Faye Dunaway), the majority of the collection was underwhelming. The pieces were functional basics, but basics are hard sells when similar versions can be purchased at lower prices at major retailers. In order for a local designer to excite the Twin Cities audience, they need to give consumers a reason to seek out their pieces in lieu of Urban Outfitters and H&M. Minneapolis-St.Paul Fashion Week isn’t the time to blend in.
Nicole Larson presented a collection of almost exclusively menswear. The shapes and earth tones were reference-heavy, often feeling straight out of Robin Hood, Dune and The Hunger Games. Several models carried pieces of wood down the runway, a confusing choice that left me wondering whether the Log Lady from Twin Peaks was another pop culture reference point. Many of the jackets featured women’s tailoring, but the effect wasn’t particularly androgynous. The male models just looked like they were wearing women’s jackets by mistake. Outerwear was also accented in brown faux fur that was a bit more grizzly bear than luxe. It seemed that the desired effect was whimsical, but the execution missed the mark. The frustrating thing about this collection is that there were some truly great moments. Several of the jackets featured clever and intricate tailoring, and the final look, the only piece of womenswear, was memorable. The plaid long-sleeved mini dress featured the same bear-like faux fur on the cuffs and collars, but in this instance, the addition felt more successfully tongue-in-cheek. And some truly innovative detailing on the shoulders and sleeves immediately caught my attention and had audience members excitedly chatting about the choice long after the segment ended. If Larson narrows her point of view and devotes more of her time to editing, she could produce a collection that would leave the audience thoroughly charmed.
Though Max Lohrbach has been releasing and showing pieces here and there, last night marked his first full collection in several years. Featuring both mens and womenswear, the collection contained plenty of the designer’s trademark whimsy. Precious tea party dresses featured an elegant floral print as well as a delightfully twee dessert print. As is often the case, much of Lohrbach’s appeal came from the details. A strapless dessert print dress featured two black bows across the neckline instead of the more obvious center bow, and a star print, which made several appearances, was patterned after the actual night sky. Consumers would certainly have fun searching for the constellations. A women’s tuxedo shirt featured tawny fur in lieu of the traditional pleats or ruffles, and a men’s tuxedo shirt made of red flannel included ruffles in the shape of a heart. A pair of men’s pants and a corresponding sweater in soft ivory were sliced and diced in such a precise fashion that from a distance, the fabric manipulation could almost pass as a print. As dreamy as many of the looks were, the collection was still a little uneven. Some of the menswear felt unnecessary and not on the same level as the rest of the looks. The collection would have benefited from some hard editing and tough choices, but tough choices are what elevate a collection to the next level.
Kimberly Jurek takes her work seriously. She’s one of the most successful designers in the Twin Cities and, in addition to selling her line, Kjurek, in several local shops, also sells her pieces in boutiques ranging from California to Washington DC. Her work is consistently well-made and wearable, and most of all, sellable. For fall, Jurek presented a collection of separates and dresses in stretch faux suede, cotton poplin and a variety of silks. A high percentage of the tops and dresses featured a wrap neckline, and though the wrap dress is a design classic, after a while, it felt that we were just seeing the same looks in different colors. That said, there were some great colors, including a deep teal blouse paired with an aubergine skirt. A coral pixel print popped up on a drapey tunic and a kimono-sleeved blouse, and I couldn’t help wishing that a few more prints had been worked into the collection. Unfortunately, the collection was just too basic to excite on the runway.
Thursday night ended on a high note with Ivan Idland’s outstanding collection. Idland is known for his painstaking paneling, but due to his choices of fabrics, his looks don’t often look as expensive as the amount of labor should dictate. This year, Idland incorporated glamorous fabrics with shots of lace, beading and sequins into his signature designs, elevating patchwork pieces into art deco-inspired cocktail dresses and gowns. Outerwear was dressed up with pleats and plaids, with slight infusions of military influence. Truly taking advantage of his placement as the last designer of the evening, Idland ended his show with a finale wedding gown. The finale wedding gown is a runway tradition that many designers have long forgotten (except for Karl Lagerfeld, who never misses an opportunity to end a show with high wedding drama) and it was a joy to see a local designer throw himself into his collection and end the night on such a dramatic note. The gown itself featured chevron paneling down the back, a delicate lace bodice, and a gathered train of lush ivory and cream. It was a brave choice, and one that paid off in a standing ovation. Idland stole the show.