Voltage!!!

27 Apr

It was a good looking night in Minneapolis, from the clothes to the models to the crowd and (most of) the bands. Voltage Fashion Amplified showcased some very strong design this year- no stomach-churning menswear, everything constructed to a high standard and an overall feel of ambitious professionalism. The Design Panel for Voltage and MNfashion ought to be commended and if MNfashion gets their sewing collective off the ground, Voltage 2010 can only be a bigger, badder, better affair.

Most of the new innovations were a success as well. The IKEA Design Challenge, where designers competed for a studio makeover yielded out-of-left-field and intriguing results, and the pop-up retail store made excellent use of the dead area around the pool tables (Cake In 15 indulged in a tie from Grayline and a silk-screened brooch from Calpurnia Peach). The runway though, at an angle through the mainroom this year, had an effect of disassociating the design from the music if you were standing in the pit (as CIn15 was)- hence, no pictures of the models in front of bands. Still, with the overall improvements to Voltage, here’s looking to the future.

Mercurial Rage dressed by Grayline Clothing
Runway lines by 2709 and Emily Weich
3478184725_8966c64175Mercurial Rage are a pinheaded testosterone-soaked B-52s knock-off who rhyme “Twinkle, twinkle little star” with “topless bar” (told you it was “for the most part”.) It was an aggressively annoying way to kick off Voltage, but at least we got them out of the way first. The silk-screening on Grayline’s vests seemed a little forced and bland- vest separates are already available at Target- a lost opportunity to showcase the complex screen-print on the soft tees available in the retail area.

3478185019_17228e87162709 started off the night showing a line of sporty jumper dresses and riding jodhpur/blouse combinations silk-screened with a whimsical bunny motif. The colors were concise and zipper detailing well placed, fun if not thrilling. The babydoll cut of the dresses and caps on all of their models establish a British mod influence that carried through a number of lines at Voltage.

3478995386_8800e9f16dEmily Weich’s line was not as cohesive as 2709, touching on 50s housewives, more babydoll dresses and veering into silky bloomers. All her models inexplicably sported a mesh net over the tops of their heads and under their chins, giving them the air of post-operative recuperation, and, apparently in a nod to Mary Poppins, carried open umbrellas. Didn’t Emily know that was bad luck?

First Communion Afterparty dressed by Jenny Carle Design
Runway lines by Arwyn Birch and Ivan Idland
3478187411_cf000b9cb4FCAP were dressed as the characters from “Clue” and although the dresses flattered the three women on stage (especially Mama Carin’s Miss Scarlet with thick black racing stripes), it seemed more like they had a lucky shopping day at Blacklist Vintage than a designed look. Which may be a good thing for Jenny Carle. They brought the noise though, a sprawling psychedelic rock that burned through the feedback with sharp guitar riffs.

3478188281_d8650746f0Arwyn Birch explicitly dealt with the 60s influence, showing dresses with contrasting belts on empire waists, heavier serge fabrics, black and white checkerboard patterns and pillbox hats galore. One blue and white number must have been a Pan-Am stewardess in a past life. The clothes were professionally constructed, fitted and eminently wearable, if a touch period specific.

3478188927_23d5c7d2f2Ivan Idland’s line upped the ante for everyone, both in concept and execution. Idland showed pant/jacket combinations and dresses that were form fitting but flattering with symmetrical fabric patterns that recalled grand Art Deco design filtered through mod and projected to a vision of future sex. The palette of white, black and greens was delicate and lovely and the accents of fingerless gloves and sheaths beautifully combined couture, construct and ready-to-wear.

Gospel Gossip dressed by Emily Melchert
Runway lines by Alison Quinnell and Maritza Ramirez
3478999996_a7aec37c74With a formfitting off-the-shoulder dress made of a black-on-black fabric and strung with lines of black beads on the back, Gospel Gossip front woman Sarah Nienaber looked every inch the thrashing sex kitten that their Raveonettes and Siouxie-inflected shoegaze would have you think. Propelled by Ollie Moltaji’s drums, expect this band to pick up steam and break big.

3479000856_26bc26ac0dTarget-employed designer Allison Quinnell’s line was another set of well-executed ready-to-wear dresses. Playing with babydolls, sheaths and long empire-waisted gowns, Quinnell’s palette of secondary colors with accents of lovely metallic fabrics, shoes embellished with feathers and an origami theme gave the line some depth and couture personality, but the overall feel was ready for the rack.

3478192523_ea12b81a63Maritza Ramirez played with clothes cut on the bias, cutting waists and necklines high and tight on her short skirts and dresses. The inspiration seems to have been modernist design, like Idland pulling from the crispness of Art Deco. Touches such as short ruffled collars that stood up at an angle and mesh flairs at the hem along with the palette of muted metallic pinks and greys endowed the line with a sophistication, sexy in it’s severity.

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles dressed by Standard Issue Clothing with Branch Office Design
Runway lines by Carmichael Claith and Calpurnia Peach
3478194657_45cab0d4cbTaking cues from Lucy Michelle’s old-timey sound, the women in the band were costumed in country western frocks made of layered bandana and tablecloth materials and the men in jeans, military coats, bowlers and prospector hats, creating an overall air of being extras on Deadwood. Though Michelle’s vocals were a touch loud and overly sharp through the PA, they gamely stomped through their backyard hootenanny repertoire and had the crowd swinging at the finish.

3479004760_966e45b4b9Carmichael Claith wants to take you on a Highlands hunting adventure! The designer, who deals exclusively with Scottish-based themes showed a line of skirts, pantaloons and vests in plaid with occasional bursts of tulle that seemed vegetal, if not floral. The embossed leather belts by Red Shoe Clothing Co. were exquisitely done, but they brought back the holsters and capguns from last year’s Voltage, a playful gesture turned silly with narrowness of the theme.

3479006738_8d92388919The duo of Calpurnia Peach showed that girls do grow up, building from last year’s line of playful rompers into a slimmer, more adult line of skirts, vests and dresses. Taking Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” as a cue, the mostly demure line featured colorful bursts of screen-printing evocative of Dutch/African wax print fabrics playing the monster’s eyes, clouds and Max’s crown. Calpurnia Peach also won the IKEA design challenge for their flouncy bustled short dress in a yellow, white and black ginko-leaf pattern, getting them a $1500 studio makeover.

Maria Isa dressed by Jodelle Gerdes
Runway lines by Amanda Christine and Max Lohrbach
3479009344_c72e55f4a3Maria Isa and her hosiery were the real big winners at Voltage. Her tights saved the day as her skirt rode up high, and her fiery performance, complete with dancers and 6-piece backing band gave the wearying Voltage crowd something to perk up about. She brought out rapper Muja Messiah as a guest and brought the house down when she covered Dee-Lite’s “Groove Is In the Heart” in the middle of her set. The rapper/reggaeton princess drops her first full-length “Street Politics” June 5th in Mainroom, so look for that to be a wild party.

3479009286_422b74ecdaVoltage veteran Amanda Christine’s line of layered tulle dresses had a gauzy and languorous air that walked a line between being summery fun and something Cher would have worn to bed in 1975. Each dress was a bold hue and the details like a long flaring tail on an orange number showed the attention to detail that makes Christine a Twin Cities fashion favorite.

3478200345_539eca9622Max Lohrbach ended the night with flair. For his second Voltage line, he pulled the stops out on a Victorian peepshow; bustled dresses with shimmering hand painted fabrics, quilted bottoms, cut-out trompe l’oeil ribbons and bows disappearing into halter tops and shorts. A literally art-damaged concept- some of the models wore gold gilt frames as props- it was executed with a giddy absurdity buoyed by clarity and precision which showed why a number of Twin Cities fashionistas were wearing Lorbach designs that night.

View Staciaann’s full set of photos from 2009’s Voltage here.

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