Each year, the Art Institute of Portland's graduating fashion designers have the opportunity to present their collections — designed around a set theme — to an appreciative crowd of Portland's fashion conscious, as well as friends and family.
Recently, more than 1,000 people crammed into Pure Space, a cavernous warehouse in the Pearl District, to see how the students interpreted this year's theme: Fit 2 Print. The fashion designers collaborated with the Institute's graphic design department to create fashion pieces that "said" something through the incorporation of text and other graphic elements.
In addition to their thematic work, the graduating students presented collections which they have been working on during their final year of the program.
As the models made their way down the catwalk, the quality of the work — including the level of detail and polish — was staggeringly professional.
"I know this is Portland and all, and fashion here is — you know, flannel, but this was much, much different. It just didn't feel like we were looking at the work of students," says Mike Smith, a photographer at the event.
"It seemed like stuff you would find in a magazine today — like something you'd expect to see on America's Top Model or something."
The event is not only a student showcase, it is also a fundraiser for the Institute so that it can continue to offer students the resources they need to create.
"One of the goals of tonight's event is to raise money for creative arts scholarships which is what this event was initially about, getting money back to the students," says Eden Dawn, an instructor at the school and also the fashion editor of Portland Monthly Magazine.
"And obviously, we want to show people what is coming out of our school. A lot of people sometimes think, 'Oh, student work, blah, blah, blah,' but this is amazing and students from the Institute go on to work at places like Nike and Adidas."
The atmosphere felt appropriately like a mix betwen a high-powered New York runway show with thumping techno-laced music, and a college graduation replete with cheers and shout-outs from proud friends and family.
To get a look at the designs, check out the slideshow in the sidebar at the right.