Thursday, April 30, 2009

suffocate - review

Last spring, designer Ra'mon-Lawrence set a new standard for Twin Cities fashion with his solo show Eluded Love. Held at the Soo Visual Arts Center, the show was by far the Cities’ most ambitious individual presentation to date. This year Laura Fulk built on this new tradition of extravagantly produced solo shows. The designer's Spring 2009 collection was presented at The Lab Theater and featured production values that rivaled MN Fashion Week’s larger and more established group shows.

The clothes featured many of Fulk's signature details. The structured shapes and extravagant neck pieces that she has become known for were still a through line in the collection, though the looks had more ease to them than in previous Fulk collections. This was due in no small part to the adjustable technical details of the pieces. High funnel necks were molded into place and secured with snaps and buttons, magnets transformed a Siamese twin wedding dress into two individual gowns, and drawstrings unfolded a ruffled neckline into a beautifully lined cape. The transformative nature of the pieces was evocative of Hussein Chayalan, while the layered panels of fabric drew comparisons to Marc Jacobs Spring 2008 collection. The interactive elements of the clothing made for an engaging runway show, and the theatrical presentation helped the audience connect to the clothes as both wearable items and pieces of art. proprietors and Suffocate producers Emma Berg and Kristoffer Knutson raved about the space and the opportunity to be involved in every detail up to and including the lighting. The styling was strong, particularly the choice to outfit the models in shiny high heeled booties and thick beige dancing tights. The tights were worn over the shoes, allowing a glimmer of patent leather to shine through and creating an elongated leg that transformed the already lithe models into gazelle-like figures. Wearing dance tights over high heels may not be the most wearable trend as far as function, but the effect was accessible enough that I've been considering hitting up the Capezio website to attempt my own modified version. (Insider info: I was hoping to keep the tights from running by applying a border of clear nail polish around the sole. However, last night I asked Eclecticoiffeur stylist Jahna Peloquin about this technique, and it was actually something that they’d attempted for Suffocate, but with little success. Drat.)

The show clocked in at over half an hour, which ensured that the event was worth its $15 ticket price, but is also a lot of time for a fashion show. The models marched the runway one at a time, and though this provided audience members and photographers with substantial opportunity to absorb the individual looks, the presentation lost some of the collection’s fluidity. I'm not advocating the current standard of interchangeable models stomping past one another in brief ten minute shows, but having models pass one another on the runway helps an audience grasp the connections between individual looks.

That said, Suffocate boasted some of the most successful production design, both technical and artistic, that the Twin Cities fashion community has ever seen. It was an incredibly accomplished show and certainly the gem of MN Fashion Week.

producer Kristoffer Knutson, designer Laura Fulk, and producer Emma Berg

photos by Stephen Stephens, see more at l'étoile

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