WTF, Jez? The Lena Dunham Debacle

Wanting to look nice isn’t a character flaw. It doesn’t mean you hate yourself, or you’re judgmental of other people’s appearances, or any number of superficial shames. Photoshop and Instagram, with their light-bending and pimple erasures, are not inherently evil. When used sparingly, they can elevate the raw material that a basic camera produces and make […]

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Winter Is Coming…Complete With Art, Fashion & Beer

Nicolas Kelly and Katie Greiner walk in last year's Big Chill.
Nicolas Kelly and Katie Greiner walk in last year’s Big Chill.

This Friday, Grand Central Bowl marries more than a few of Portland’s favorite things at Big Chill, a lifestyle event presented by Widmer Brothers Brewing with fashion show produced by Jillian Rabe, LLC.

Both the launch of Widmer’s Brrr Seasonal Ale and the runway show of cool-weather gear compete to steal the show, but add the mixed media art, photo booth, music and silent auction benefitting the Snowdays Foundation and we have a high-energy, many-moving-parts event. I mentioned this all takes place in a bowling alley, right?

As Jillian puts it, there is no shortage of stuff to do.

The bowling lanes become the runway for the show, featuring a fresh mix of local brands and retailers, heavily leaning toward skate, street and snow style.

Model Alex Green on the Big Chill 2012 runway.
Model Alex Green on the Big Chill 2012 runway.

“Style is a more appropriate word to use than fashion for this event, which I really like,” Jillian says.

She purposefully books a range of models: some are working models and others are people who are active in their community. This show is one of her favorites to produce because of the opportunity to showcase and celebrate a wider variety of models.

“Not everyone is going to be the audience-expected high-fashion model.”

Retailers include Mojave, West Burnside’s new boutique on the block, which manages a perfect mix of rustic PDX and new-school-cool LA. Bringing the street and snow to the event are Unheard, a Portland-based skateboard company that focuses on skate decks and graphic tees, and Seattle-based ski and snowboard shop Evo. Local headwear company Capture will be joining the runway for the first time, and funky Portland-based lounge-wear brand Funsie returns as a crowd favorite (because really, what’s better than a onsie?).

Not by accident, Big Chill is a celebration of what makes Portland special: A fun, inclusive community vibe with great art, fashion, beer and music. Plus, it helps those of us dreading months of clouds and rain remember what’s fun about the Northwest in the winter.

I asked Jillian what she likes about Portland once the days get shorter and darker.

Immediately: “Knee socks and tall boots!” She adds: “Any opportunity to wear my big boots. Plus my Blackmilk leggings, which of course no female should go without. They are love with all of our bodies, which is very cool.”

Jillian Rabe: Whatever your version of brightness or happiness, intergrate it into your winter life.
Jillian Rabe: Whatever your version of brightness or happiness, integrate it into your winter life.

She adds that for her, colder days mean styling herself a little more creatively and using more color.

“Winter is fun because the given is that you are going to be layering, the given is that it is going to be cold. It’s a cool opportunity to tell really complete stories with your styling.”

Beyond mastering the art of getting out the door feeling great in what you are wearing, she adds that getting a leg up on your goals can be empowering—whether it’s style or music or working out or spending time with friends.

“You know change and rebirth is on its way with the New Year, and getting ahead of that is a really fun and opportunity and challenge.”

Come celebrate the impending chill Friday November 22 at Grand Central Bowl, 9:00pm. Free! Visit Jillian’s Instagram for more: @JillianRabe and her website here.

Important facts about Brrr Seasonal Ale:

  • Malts: Pale, Carmel 10L & 80L, Carapils, Dark Chocolate
  • Hops: Alchemy Hop Blend, Cascade, Simcoe
  • ABV: 7.2%
  • OG: 17.0° Plato
  • IBU: 50
  • Color: 22L

Big Chill

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Full Of Content

Out of every fashion and design event taking place in Portland in the fall, this is the one I get most excited about. For the fourth year, the Ace Hotel presents live fashion and design installations in 28 of their hotel rooms. Each designer and artist is allowed a room as their framework to construct […]

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Painting Faces in PDX

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Decorative flora at Michael Costello. Photo by Leah Haas

Makeup artists have a special perspective at fashion shows: they are commissioned to produce the vision of the stylist and designer, but (other than the key artist) typically aren’t allowed input to influence a certain look. They play an intimate role in the production of the show while having the ability to maintain perspective of the fashion at hand. With the conclusion of two of Portland’s major fashion events this fall—Portland Fashion Week and FASHIONxt—I picked the brains of two makeup artists who worked these shows on where they think we are and where we might be headed in Portland fashion.

Madeline Roosevelt worked behind the scenes on the final night of Portland Fashion Week painting faces. When asked to compare this year to seasons past, she described the show as much more organized. “Everything was charted out,” she said, and models would move through a kind of conveyor belt of makeup styling, with each artist focusing on skin, eyes or lips. Madeline was in charge of the face, making sure foundation, highlights and contour were perfect. One look was simple and fresh, one featured a nude lip and smoky eye and another was gaunt and avant-garde.

When comparing Portland to the greater fashion world, Madeline notes that that there is a lot of talent in Portland, but some artists don’t know how to execute their visions well. In Portland, Roosevelt feels like there are some good ideas, but the quality is off.

“You see photos and think ‘that’s a great piece,’ but really the photo doesn’t give it justice.” She has found that up close it’s easy to see that the piece could be better. When asked what could be done in Portland to produce better work, she said that people could try harder and do more research.

“It is a combination of things,” Madeline said. “Maybe it’s the model. Or the having the eye. I see a beautiful piece but the outfit does not go with the person wearing it. Sometimes it doesn’t display well.” When the pieces do work, however, the result is well worth the trip.

Models in waiting at Michalle Costello, Portland Fashion Week. Photo by Leah Haas
Models in waiting at Michalle Costello. Photo by Leah Haas

Raphael Ocasio also worked Portland Fashion Week as makeup artist and FASHIONxt as assistant to the key makeup artist Jamie O’Neill, owner of Portland-based makeup company Skull Sugar. He was in charge of eyes and brows and had the final look at models at FASHIONxt. Raphael thrived off the full-throttle atmosphere of the shows and has an optimistic view of where Portland fashion is headed.

“Some of the shows at Portland Fashion Week really gave me hope,” he said, adding that he feels there is better awareness about fashion here and more outlets for people to showcase their work. He appreciated the “hippie couture” looks at Portland Fashion Week and feels like some of these shows actually influence how women in Portland dress.

The fluffy, flowing looks at Michael Costello were a hit. Raphael found Costello to be one of his favorites, along with Seth Aaron and Hello Eliza—a pop-art line by Eliza Harrison that volleys from metallic miniskirts to sheer neon to studded platform shoes paired with spandex polka dots.

“The crowd response to Hello Eliza…I was floored,” Raphael said. “How she executed this show, with the lime green bangs, the Lil Kim hair colors, big gaudy chains, the tiger fur…the girl is tripping out!” This kind of energetic show bucks the eerily familiar feel that so many designers can fall in to.

“Women in Portland are picking up fashion faster [than men]” Raphael said. He feels that men here are comfortable, and a little afraid of change–a criticism easily leveled against Portland fashion as a whole just a few short years ago. Like many women here, the new Portland fashion is more confident, more colorful and more excited about self expression.

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