Fashion and Minnesota are not mutually exclusive, as those behind a Minneapple version of NYC Fashion Week would like to remind us.
Minneapolis has yet to receive its fashion credentials from the older, bigger arbiter of style to the east that wrapped up its own biannual Fashion Week on Wednesday. But clothing connoisseurs have noticed something special about the small cadre of local artists who churn out couture: They've gotten more organized in the past couple of years and, perhaps as a consequence, their work looks better than ever.
Jersey dresses by our own Project Runway alum Katherine Gerdes are casual but have perfect, masterful drapes. Joy Noelle makes gorgeous, but wearable, evening wear with vintage fabrics and precise, classic cuts. Georges Moskal's tailored dresses, jackets and trouser shorts are at once stylish and stunningly detailed. Shoppers, if you've been oblivious to these talents and simply gone about your business at the malls and mega-chains, your chance to spy -- and buy -- the finest of made-in-Minnesota wares comes Thursday through Sunday, at MNfashion Weekend.
Of course, this is a composite of New York City's Fall Fashion Week, a series of runway shows and parties by which designers hawk their collections to celebrities, fashion magazine editors and stylists, and buyers representing both high-end department stores and boutiques.
The Minneapolis version is, for one, shorter, lasting four days as opposed to eight. More to the point: Neither Chloë Sevigny nor the Olsen twins will be in attendance, and therefore paparazzi won't be buzzing about.
In accordance with Minnesota-style modesty, the series looks to be fairly low-production, with a smattering of trunk shows and lectures and only one runway show.
These events serve a more meaningful purpose than the fits of power shopping they may inspire: the launch of MNfashion, a nonprofit service organization dedicated to establishing a bona-fide Minnesota apparel industry by way of supporting local designers and boutiques with networking opportunities and business workshops.
And why should you care? The organization promises two large-scale annual fashion events. MNfashion will take over the popular Voltage Fashion Show, a collage of local indie-rock and couture, as its rite of spring. (MNfashion and Voltage share a founder, artistic Minneapolis milliner Anna Lee.) MNfashion Weekend will mark the organization's passage into fall and, according to Lee, it, too, will one day mature into a full-fledged Fashion Week. In the meanwhile, here's a snapshot of what MNfashion Weekend has to offer.
7 p.m.: Minnesota Historical Society Collections Tour: Minnesota Dressmakers of the Late 19th Century (Minnesota History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul). Textile curator Linda McShannock leads this rare tour of the History Center's bountiful clothing archives.
8:30 p.m.: Kjurek Couture fall fashion show featuring Amanda Christine Designs (Suburban World Theater, 3022 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis). Two reasonably well-established Minneapolis designers pair their fall/holiday collections -- with promises aplenty of silver, gold and jewel tones.
8 p.m. to midnight: mplsart.com presents Loves Laborers: Art as Fashion, Fashion as Art 2 (600 Washington Av. N., Suite 104, Minneapolis). In celebration of the interdisciplinary spirit of Minneapolis' fashion scene, shoppers can prepurchase blank hoodies. A collective of local designers (for example, Ra'mon Lawrence and members of Hyperlush) and painters (Jennifer Davis among them) then steps in to paint, embellish and de- and reconstruct these garments into one-of-a-kind creations.
11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Russell Bourrienne open studio (711 W. Lake St., Suite 510; Minneapolis). Get a glimpse of a clothesmaker's studio -- cramped quarters replete with reams upon reams of fabric, at least a half-dozen sewing machines, works-in-progress and samples of his finished custom menswear.
4 to 6 p.m.: ann alyse clothing fall 2007 trunk show (Design Collective, 1311 W. 26th St., Minneapolis). Designer Meghan Brace shows her fall line of what is, according to Lee, "a lot of asymmetrical work with incredibly luxurious fabrics." Brace will also take orders for custom couture.
1 to 5 p.m.: Fashion Illustration Workshop (Textile Center of Minnesota, 3000 W. University Av., Minneapolis). A sample of MNfashion offerings to come: This professional workshop is led by Star Rial, a veteran stylist of Nashville's country-music scene who works as a textile designer for Target Corp.
4 to 6 p.m.: Rectangle Designs Trunk Show: Local flora, fashion and food (Design Collective, 1311 W. 26th St., Minneapolis). Botanist and textile designer Sarah Nassif lures partygoers with a spread of organic food and beer as well as a selection of her latest flora-themed, screen-printed bags, dresses and tees.
The Historical Society Tour is limited and requires advance registration by calling 651-259-3417 or emailing email@example.com.
Christy DeSmith is an editor and blogger at the Rake magazine. She covers fashion and theater.