Tag Archives: Kitsch

The Fashion String: Eugene Fashion Week 2012

-Tamara Feingold

You’re sitting in the front row and you could practically reach out and touch the models walking past. The designer is following her models for the final walk and the line features strappy outfits of deep blue velvet next to Springy floral dresses. The crowd applauds the designer and the massive black pit of media at the end of the red carpet runway snap photos.

You’re not in New York. You’re not in Milan. You’re not in Paris. You’re at Fashion Week 2012…in Eugene, Oregon.

I’ll be candid here. When I decided to attend Eugene Fashion Week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Local styles that come to mind are tie-dye, Birkenstocks, flannel shirts, and biking messenger bags. Eugene may be a mecca of art when it comes to music, visuals, and crafts (a.k.a. things you would find at downtown’s Saturday Market), but let’s be honest- it’s no fashion metropolis.

However, this year’s Fashion Week may have changed my mind. The event took place over three days with the “Lingerie and Bathing Suit show” on Wednesday at the Oak Street Speakeasy, the “Ready to Wear and Evening Wear show” on Friday at the Broadway Commerce Building, and the “All Ages, Avant Garde and Costume Show” on Saturday, also at the Commerce Building.

I chose Friday’s show and was unexpectedly very impressed. Revivall Clothing by designer and co-producer of Eugene Fashion Week Laura Lee Laroux was especially original, with detailed and sometimes fringed leather belts topping full floral skirts with multiple layers and patterns. Paired with either heels or cowboy boots and lavish feathered hair accessories, Laroux’s designs manage to ride the often difficult line between voguish invention and wearably realistic. Laroux herself is flighty and adorable, and she even stopped to talk to me for a few minutes in between shows despite her waiting models backstage. “Each year, Eugene Fashion Week gets bigger,” she said. “We realized we were doing three hour shows last year, so we decided to start splitting it up.”

Deluxe by designer and co-producer of Eugene Fashion Week, Mitra Chester was charmingly Candyman-esque with high-waisted double button shorts, vintage red striped bow tops, and white gloves. The line, entitled “Postmodern Pinups,” was refreshingly preppy, and therefore almost anti-Eugene. The designs also stood apart from much of the “repurposed clothes” to appear thoroughly well crafted. Fortunately, it’s easy to find Chester’s designs locally as she co-owns both Deluxe and Kitsch.

Amanda Prussak also presented her new line, “Orphan No More,” and her use of color was perfect for Spring 2012. With bold combinations of cobalt blue, tangerine orange, hot pink, and sage green, Prussak’s designs are sure to bring us out of our rainy Eugene slumps.

With a wide range of innovative designers and talented performers like Mood Area 52, I almost forgot I was in Eugene. Worry not, though. Our city still has, and always will have, its beatnik roots. After all, the hipster sitting in front of me at the show was sipping green yerba maté out of a mason jar. Classic.

The Bright Colors of Kitsch

-Tamara Feingold

Pastel tutus, oversized embroidered sweaters, animal hats, and long feather earrings. The racks of Kitsch vintage store are stuffed with things you need but never knew where to find.  The store, located in downtown Eugene, sells both consigned clothes and locally made goods for men and women. The small shop is basically a rainbow of young party clothes with a unique touch, and you can rest assured you won’t find these items anywhere else in town.

“A lot of people come here looking for outfits for the Oregon Country Fair or Burning Man and I love getting to help pick them out,” said Allison Ditson, the store’s manager. “My favorite time of year is Halloween; We get a ton of costumes in.”

But Kitsch doesn’t only sell costume-wear; Many of the clothes are the same things you would find at the mall for a fraction of the cost. “Buying clothes here is a more conscious way to spend your money because it’s a local business,” Ditson said. “The owners find a way to give back to the community by organizing local fashion shows with money from their own pockets. They have good priorities.”

The store is packed with original graphic T-shirts, plaid button-ups, and extravagant dresses for just about any occasion. A lot of the clothes are inspired by the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, but casual sweaters, pants, and everyday wear are also available.

Ditson sells her own clothing line called ALLIHALLA at Kitsch as well. A self-proclaimed “seamstress extraordinaire,” Ditson makes the clothes herself and the line is featured in local fashion shows. “You can do anything to pay the bills, but it’s nice to work somewhere I actually support while expanding my own brand.”

Five times each week, Kitsch has a Scavenger Sale featured on the store’s Facebook page. A small picture will show one piece of clothing from the store, and when a customer comes in to find the garment a 50-percent-off coupon will be tagged inside. To pick up some one-of-a-kind pieces at a low price, become a fan of Kitch’s on Facebook.

It’s nice to know that some stores are still looking to make an honest dollar, and it seems Kitsch’s management has the best interest of the customer in mind while acting locally responsible. “It’s not promoted much in the media that you should think about what you’re spending your money on,” said Ditson. “You should be conscious about where it’s going.”

Follow Tamara at @tamfeingold