In Review: Envision Spring 2016 Kicks off Fashion Week MN

For 19 seasons—nearly a decade—Ignite ModelsEnvision has been a fixture on the Twin Cities fashion calendar every fall and spring, showcasing a wide array of seasonal looks from local designers and shops, with something for every taste. When it moved from its longtime home at the Graves (now Loews) hotel ballroom in 2013, it came into its own, thanks to a gorgeous new venue (Orchestra Hall), a new production partner (hip contemporary art gallery Public Functionary, whose VIP Room curated with live music and art is always a highlight), and a shift from boutique fashions to designs from locla established and emerging designers (apart from Uptown shop Cliché, which always brings an inspired sense of whimsy into its styling).

Envision is an elegant, increasingly well-oiled machine. This year’s production—which officially kicked off the spring edition of Fashion Week MN—moved at a brisk pace, and proved to be one of its most consistent shows to date, with well-made, boutique-ready looks from beginning to end (set to a soundtrack by French DJ Monsieur Adi, Beyoncé’s DJ for the 2014 European leg of her The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour) and energetic host John Mark. Nearly every collection shown demonstrated craftsmanship, precision, imagination, and interpretations of current trends—though some stood out from the pack. Because it is such a big show—a dozen designers each showing seven looks—I’ve condensed this review by highlighting my five favorite collections from the night.

1. Emily Trevor

Trevor’s latest collection was highly anticipated after stealing the show at Envision’s spring 2015 show. She skipped showing a line last fall—but let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Trevor’s collection married sporty elements with elegant, pretty details, epitomized by a lace tank top that featured a sports jersey–inspired cut and hand-sequined numbers and a baby-blue silk track jacket embroidered with flowers. The collection also drew from ’90s club-kid culture, with a fuzzy faux-fur purple backpack and chubby coat and chunky platform sandals. The final look of her collection, and of the show itself, was a floor-length gown of pleated floral-print silk, covered in delicate sequins, with a sporty silver sequin bustier and and snap-release belt. Trevor’s hand-work reportedly took countless hours—a true labor of love from Minneapolis’ fastest-rising fashion star.

all images by Jay Larson

2. Cory Allen (tie)

Cory Allen Linsmeyer is not exactly a “local” designer—he’s an MFA candidate and associate lecturer at the design school of the University of Wisconsin-Madison—but I’d love to claim him as ours anyway. For his second Envision showing after making a splash on last fall’s runway, the menswear designer showed a new take on his “Horse Power” concept with “Palomino,” a collection that smartly incorporated Western style details—such as yoking and pearl buttons—with ’80s style references, including double belt loops, pleated shorts, and Members Only–style jackets. (He drove the ’80s point home by having the models walk out to Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.”) He made those references new with his innovative adaptations, as in a shirt that used silver studs to mimic the effect of yoking. And if you’re still not impressed, consider this: He machine-knit all of the knitwear and embroidered the hats and jackets himself, and everything was so impeccable it looked factory-made. Bonus points go for ending the show on a cheeky note: with a teeny-tiny pair of briefs emblazoned with a horse print.

2. Russell Bourrienne (tie)

When it comes to tailoring, Bourrienne is a master. His menswear is always flawlessly executed. Recently, he’s been mining his hobby as a vintage bicyclist and restorer for his fashion collections, and as a result, he’s churned out a couple of his best collections to date. This spring, he took inspiration from Indian cyclists, adding paisley fabrics and tab-collared shirts into the Savile Row–inspired British tailoring. The paisley fabric was most innovatively utilized in a sporty, zip-front jacket and a pair of flat-front shorts. But Bourrienne shines brightest when it comes to his outerwear, and he smartly included a pullover raincoat that was half poncho, half trench coat. Though Bourrienne focuses his attention on custom designs, I strongly suggest he get his designs into Martin Patrick 3, a menswear store with a clientele that is perfectly aligned to the designer’s elegant tailoring and classic-with-a-twist designs.

4. Joeleen Torvick

A couple seasons after debuting on the Envision runways, Joeleen Torvick made a strong impression with her artful collection. From an origami-like wrap top to a dress and top featuring intricately patchwork organic shapes, the designer created a line fit for an art gallerist’s wardrobe. The lines were fluid and effortless, the fabrics luxe and lightweight, and the unusual color combinations—tan with red, orange with white—were inspired. Many of the looks were complicated in construction, despite their simple appearance—a mark of restraint and a signal of good design. The collection will be available for purchase and special orders on Thursday, April 21, during a trunk show at Showroom from 6-8 p.m.

5. Kjurek

The design duo of Kimberly Jurek and Jen Chilstrom (also the owners of local boutique Showroom, which specializes in Minnesota-made fashions) has been an Envision fixture since the show began, and the line has only grown more sophisticated and focused over the years. For the past few seasons, the brand has moved into a direction I like to describe as “boho-Western-gothic,” staying true to the brand’s bohemian roots while adding a chicer, more high-end vibe into the mix. A leather fringe neckpiece offered one of the collection’s wow moments, as did a layered, tie-dyed dressed trimmed with fringe pom-poms. Best of all, the collection did a great job of evoking the exact kind of girl who would would wear these looks—Kjurek knows their customers, and knows them well. The collection will be available for purchase and special orders on Thursday, April 21, during a trunk show at Showroom from 6-8 p.m.

Less than a year after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s apparel design program, Form over Function designer Lauren Kacher made her second appearance at Envision with a collection that combined womenswear and menswear—a sort of grown-up goth/club kid vibe that demonstrated some good ideas (the seatbelt-like men’s shorts, the white sheer wrap dress), though was a bit uneven at moments, particularly when many elements went into one look (a layered, pleated men’s skirt paired with a puffy jacket).

Jenny Carle, another longtime Envision designer, opened the show with a collection that merged ’90s and ’70s influences—though the results were uneven. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bright-pink print featured throughout, and the hot pink mini dress was fairly generic, but more than anything, it didn’t seem like the outfits looked like they were from the same collection. However, I loved her lace-front indigo jumpsuit with a scoop-back and a look that paired a white dress with a matching sleeveless jacket—both were fresh, chic, and modern, and offered Carle’s twist on the jumpsuit and sleeveless jacket trends.

Hiccup by Handley is the first Envision showing for designer Handley Elizabeth Woodall, and it was a pretty solid debut. She inserted some whimsy into the proceedings, showing 1960s, Beach Blanket Bingo–inspired swimwear and summery separates, incorporating brightly patterned textiles into the mix. Keep your eye on this one.

Cliché brought their signature styling chops to the runway once again, serving up a technicolor smattering of looks from their store, with styling said to be inspired by “secret societies and pop art.” It also made me think of what an all-girl version of Devo would look like.

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