Review: Emma Berg Goes Pop at the Walker's “Pop Remix”

Only two short months after making the move to New York City, former Minneapolis fashion designer Emma Berg returned to showcase her latest collection—on the Walker Art Center’s outdoor terraces on Thursday evening as part of a month-long Target Free Thursday Night series dubbed “Pop Remix.” The Pop Art–themed event tied into the museum’s ongoing International Pop exhibit, and also featured a ten-piece collection by Brooklyn-based costume designer Christian Joy, a live musical performance by ambient duo Wolf Lords, sets from DJ Adora Tokyo, an interactive DIY liquid light show, and a screening of the 1967 film Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable featuring the Velvet Underground.

Berg’s ten-piece collection combined sport-inspired details, such as racerbacks and cutouts, new twists on Berg’s signature, draped silhouettes, and quirky details. One exemplary piece combined a draped wrap-dress silhouette in a dreamy, soft pink, silk jersey with a Pop Art–esque hand outline wrapping around the waist and unexpected neon-yellow piping. Similarly, a sleek, sporty, neon-yellow pencil skirt got a Pop Art punch with a lip-shaped cutout. Pieces rendered in an ethereal polka dot fabric and a textured metallic-silver fabric rounded out an eclectic yet cohesive collection that remained true to Berg’s style while pushing forward into updated silhouettes and fresh color combinations.

Though the show had been in the works months before Berg decided to head east, ironically prompted by her departure from her job at Target as part of the corporation’s sweeping layoffs in April, the optimistic feel of Berg’s collection seemed to make a statement that she’ll continue to have a presence in Minnesota, though a long-distance one.

Following Berg’s collection, Christian Joy showed a similarly effusive group of looks. Best known for her colorful stagewear designs for Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Joy—a native of Marion, Iowa–had fun with the Pop Art theme, with faux bananas atop fez-style hats (a nod to Andy Warhol’s LP art for The Velvet Underground & Nico?) and geometric, foam shapes decorating her garments. The custom-made fabric, printed with cosmetic imagery, such as nail polish and lipstick, vaguely resembled Southwestern-style patterns, but in eye-popping neon shades. The Southwestern vibe carried over to the colorful fringe decorating the pieces, and the Western-style ponchos, Minnetonka Moccasins, and cowboy hats. Make more mistake—these were more costumes than fashion, but it was funky, fresh, fun, and unapologetically weird. (Added cute points go to the pair of kids’ looks that closed the show, modeled by her Iowan nephew and niece.)

The seamless production (coordinated by I AM MPLS! and Fashion Week MN producer Sarah Edwards, with hair by Mezzanine Salon, makeup by Romeny Chan, and models from Vision Management Group, Ignite Models, and Moore Talent) played off of the freeform feel of the multi-level terraces, and the lack of chairs, runway, and VIPs, and gave the event an egalitarian vibe.

More looks from Emma Berg’s collection:

All photos by A.J. Olmscheid

 Looks from Christian Joy’s collection:

DJ Adora Tokyo

Wolf Lords