by Beth Hammarlund
Tuesday evening marked a milestone for local fashion designer Danielle Everine. The talented Project Runway alum presented her first full collection since 2012, and even more significantly, the entire line was immediately available for purchase in multiple sizes on her website. For an independent designer, especially one executing high-concept designs with luxury materials, that is a major accomplishment.
Everine’s new collection, “Matryoshka in Japan,” is actually an expansion of a three-look capsule collection that she created for last spring’s Black Hearts Ball event (organized by local designers and producers Tim + Thom, the fairy godfathers of the Twin Cities fashion community). Inspired by Russian Matryoshka and Japanese Durama dolls, the brief run of pieces embraced layering as sartorial nesting. Those original three looks actually contained nine pieces, ranging from patterned separates to hand-knit stockings trimmed with rabbit fur. Expanded into a nine-look collection for Tuesday’s show, that comes to 24 beautifully crafted pieces. Everine showed the looks in a salon-style presentation at City Wide Artists, the Minneapolis gallery managed by Vision Model Management founder Teqen Zéa-Aida. Models walked through the crowd and posed for group photos, but spent the majority of the event standing throughout the gallery, allowing guests the opportunity to examine the garments up close and take photos. CWA’s current exhibit, “A Letter from the South” by Horace Imhotep, provided a bright and vibrant background for the collection.
Though nothing compares to the glamour and theatricality of a runway show, the opportunity to study a designer’s work up close and at a leisurely pace is a welcome alternative. Not only is Everine a detail-oriented designer, she has long held a playful relationship with texture. When looks float past you at a breezy clip on a runway, it’s easy to miss details that she likely spent hours planning and executing. Being able to spend time with each of her garments and to appreciate their tactile nature was a luxury.
Several pieces from the original capsule collection were still the standouts, including the rabbit fur thigh-highs ($245) and a pair of silk high-waisted jodhpurs ($245). (Dibs on both.) A fluffy cropped wool jacket in Buffalo plaid ($215) was a great mix-and-match topper. Its formal cousin, a Buffalo plaid kimono coat ($300), featured a rabbit fur insert down the back and tiny pops of red embroidery on the pockets that resembled a scattering of woodland berries. There were plenty of lightweight shifts, many of which were transparent in accordance with the evening’s layering theme. (In several cases, two dresses were worn layered on top of one another.) A pair of adorable summer cotton shorts ($85) featured a folk print of stripes and floral borders. A warm pink silk miniskirt ($225) with hand-printed details and wool fringe was another standout item, but it was so short that I was grateful that the collection is so layer-friendly. (Though if you have the legs and the guts to pull off a mini that mini, grab it while you can and the rest of us will eat out our collective hearts.) But if you want to pick up one quintessential piece from the collection, I’d recommend the Matryoshka Floral Mini Dress ($125), a version of which the designer herself was wearing. The relaxed shift features a kicky floral print, smart pockets, enough length that you can rock the dress solo, and enough wiggle room that you can easily layer it over stockings, leggings or trousers (the latter of which was a major trend on the NYFW S/S 2017 runways).
“Matryoshka in Japan” will likely serve as a test run for Everine. The crowd at her exhibition clearly adored the collection, but will that translate into web sales for the designer? If so, we might see her return to a more regular showing schedule, with pieces available in multiple sizes. If not, she may only show her work when a new concept happens to strike her fancy. Though I hesitate to imply that anyone is not the captain of her own ship, consumers have a major say in what direction Everine goes in next. If we want to see more work from her, we need to speak up. And money talks. The looks from “Matryoshka in Japan” are all joyful, beautifully made and reasonably priced. Keep that in mind the next time you fall into a spending black hole at Target.
photos by Jay Larson Photography and courtesy of FWMN