In Review: Envision Showcases Spring Styles From a Local Perspective

Sixteen seasons in, semi-annual runway show Envision has become an institution in the local fashion community. Produced by Minneapolis talent agency Ignite Models Inc. and V2 NightLife, the show has transformed from what was ostensibly a showcase for its models and a handful of local boutiques to become the go-to place to see collections from top and emerging Twin Cities designers every season.

Last spring, the show left its longtime home at the Graves 601 Hotel for a new location, Orchestra Hall, which has proven to be a decidedly more glamorous, dynamic space than the hotel ballroom was. Northeast contemporary art gallery Public Functionary joined as a key partner, its staff lending its curatorial eye to the look of the show (and decking out a VIP room with live artists, a silent auction, and live musical performances), and its curator Tricia Khutoretsky serving as the show’s emcee.

With a live soundtrack provided by French DJ/producer Monsieur Adi (hot off DJing Beyoncé’s 2014 “Mrs. Carter” world tour), Saturday night’s two-part runway show exhibited spring trends from a local perspective, spanning culottes and two-piece sets to urban-global prints and athleisure-chic, accessorized by local lines Hardt Jewelry and Stephanie Lake Design, plus Goorin Bros. hats, shoes from Aldo, sunglasses from SEE Eyewear, and additional accessories from Mona Williams and Rewind Vintage.

On the whole, the show was more polished than ever, with an emphasis on ready-to-wear rather than over-the-top, conceptual couture—something that is definitely key to designers finding success with selling their work and getting into boutiques. However, I would have liked to see designers push themselves to be a little more original and boundary-pushing in their collections; overall, it was a fairly colorless show, with most designers sticking to fairly conventional or trendy silhouettes. But in the wake of last week’s announcement that Macy’s Glamorama is calling it quits after 23 years running and last year’s dissolution of nonprofit MNfashion (producer of Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week, Voltage: Fashion Amplified, and the Shows), Envision is more vital to the local fashion community than ever.

Ellie Hottinger kicked things off with a fresh lineup of spring looks that incorporated architectural accents with easy silhouettes, including that ‘70s staple, culottes. But these aren’t your mama’s frumpy culottes—the St. Paul native and 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota’s apparel design program showed off a knack for a putting together a look that is chic and polished yet effortless. My only quibble was that I would have loved to see just a tiny bit of color in the neutral-shaded collection (though her incorporation of distressed sequins provided a nice textural contrast with the silky fabrics).

Looks from Ellie Hottinger with jewelry by Hardt Jewelry

A.J. Olmscheid

For their Envision debut, two new local names to the Twin Cities fashion scene—Mien Kielo‘s Jess Rodysill Hammond, a New York native, and House of Gina Marie‘s Gina Moorhead, originally from Minnesota—joined forces for a collaborative collection. Taking inspiration from Givenchy’s designs for Audrey Hepburn, the line was unsurprisingly polished, chic, well-made, and expensive-looking—particularly a chic silk trench that opened the show. However, I left feeling slightly underwhelmed with the overall line, especially considering each designer’s strong past work—particularly Hammond’s lush, gorgeous detailing and Moorhead’s vibrant patterns and edgy-chic vibe. That being said, I’m looking forward to what these two do next, and have no doubt they’ll continue to impress me.

Looks from Mien Kielo + House of Gina Marie

A.J. Olmscheid

Yevette Willaert was another new name on the Envision lineup this year. A 2012 graduate of St. Catherine University’s apparel design program, she specializes in socially responsible yet fashion-forward designs and has worked as a costume designer in London. After seeing some of her past costume work, I was pleasantly surprised to see Willaert present a well-made, wearable collection of separates in punchy prints that still managed to exude a little drama.

Looks by Yevette Willaert

A.J. Olmscheid

Kimberly Jurek and Jennifer Chilstrom of Kjurek—which has participated in Envision since its beginning—incorporated ikat-dyed fabric and long fringe into edgy silhouettes for looks that would have been right at home at Coachella. Ironically, the best look of the collection was the simplest—a loose-fitting maxi dress that capitalized not on bold fringe or asymmetrical hems but on the placement of its ikat print, making for a subtle, elegant statement.

Looks by Kjurek

A.J. Olmscheid

Sister-sister duo Idle Child—a consistent staple of the local fashion scene for the past couple of years—continued to ride their bohemian-chic wave, this time taking inspiration from 1920s dressing gowns. One would not expect sheer patterned culottes to be chic, but Idle Child managed the unthinkable. Paired with chic turbans and Chinese-style slippers, the ethereal, robe-like gowns and slinky rompers showed the designers continue to explore fresh new facets of bohemian style without any hint of staleness.

Looks by Idle Child

A.J. Olmscheid

After a couple years out of the spotlight, designer Jenny Carle made a welcome return to the runway with her most polished collection to date. The St. Paul native (and 2008 St. Kate’s grad) presented a collection that incorporated some of the more chic style elements of the ‘70s (bell sleeves, high-waisted silhouettes) into modern, chic silhouettes.

Looks from Jenny Carle (with jewelry by Stephanie Lake Design)

A.J. Olmscheid

Another new name in local fashion, Kozol by designer Stacie Yokiel showcased a knack for creating boutique-ready clothing with a sophisticated yet slightly whimsical vibe. However, the presentation didn’t stand out much from the bunch. Having seen some of Yokiel’s past work, I know she has more potential and personality than seen on the Envision runway. Stay tuned…

Looks by Kozol (with hats from Goorin Bros.)

A.J. Olmscheid

The lone boutique segment in a sea of independent designers, Cliché managed to make off-the-rack clothing look runway-ready by mixing patterns (think African with Indonesian batik), adding headwraps and nose rings for an ethnically ambiguous, urban-global vibe, while the addition of a striped kaftan and top from Minneapolis line Hackwith Design House gave the collection a fresh, slightly nautical bent.

Looks from Cliché

A.J. Olmscheid

Emily Trevor‘s collection was the show’s highlight. The relatively young but ambitious designer demonstrated a truly unique vision with her line of crisp, tennis-inspired looks that blended sporty touches, such as a neon-striped hemlines, racerbacks, and white visors, with sculptural details reminiscent of famed Japanese designer Junya Watanabe, including wide, architectural sleeves. It was avant-garde, yet wearable—a difficult but ideal balance to achieve for a fashion designer.

Looks by Emily Trevor

A.J. Olmscheid

St. Paul designer George Moskal is known for incorporating a sculptural eye into his effusively feminine, sensuous designs. Liquid silk silhouettes in gunmetal and lavender shades were draped into romantic dresses and constructed into square-cut tops, giving the collection a hard-meets-soft dynamic. His gorgeous fabrics, including that of the swingy metallic dress that opened his segment, demonstrated the designer’s knack for choosing interesting textiles. (He’s a textile designer by day for Target, natch.)

Looks by George Moskal (including jewelry by Hardt Jewelry)

A.J. Olmscheid

View more photos from the show at Envision’s Facebook page