Ask a fashion designer about his or her inspiration and it’s not unusual to hear a nature-related answer: tulips, dahlias, the ocean, the North Shore.

Less common? Mushrooms.

“For some reason, last year, it seemed like there were more mushrooms,” said Joy Teiken of Joynoelle. “I noticed them as I hiked near my cabin in Otter Tail County, and they sparked my curiosity.”

Teiken’s new collection, which debuts Tuesday as part of Fashion Week Minnesota, was built around the look, texture and macabre beauty of mushrooms. “Fungi live because other things die,” the bridal and ready-to-wear designer said. “It’s beauty from decay.”

Mushrooms (no, not that kind) are apolitical, but as Teiken learned more about how mushrooms thrive on decomposition, and how some can be highly toxic, she saw analogues in present-day politics.

“This [collection] is a commentary on today’s political world, where things are toxic and dying,” she said. After the election, “I felt like my values were being challenged and I needed to find some kind of hope.”

That hope turned up in the unexpected twists, turns, caps, scales and spores of mushrooms, which served as a reminder that beautiful things are sometimes born from poisonous circumstances.

While the extraterrestrial shape of mycelia might not be everyone’s aesthetic cup of tea, the natural world pretty much always gets color right.

“I feel like when it comes to color palette, Mother Nature doesn’t get it wrong,” Teiken said. “You don’t notice things in nature and go, ‘That seems off.’ ”

Tuesday’s show at Aria in downtown Minneapolis will feature a guest presentation from award-winning mycologist and University of Minnesota Prof. Peter Kennedy. The 7 p.m. runway presentation will be followed by cocktails and music, and the models will mingle with the post-show crowd. Teiken spent so much time shredding and dyeing fabric for her high-concept designs that she wants guests to be able to see them up close.

The show is sponsored by Kill Kancer, an organization that uses art to communicate about cancer, and Teiken will donate all proceeds to the group in honor of her mother.

“When I was 21, my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 49,” Teiken said. “As both a daughter and a designer, her death was very formative. I’m honored to be able to use the talents my mother gave me to support Kill Kancer.”


Laine Bergeson is a Minneapolis-based health and style writer.