Review: Icons Fashion Show Poised to Pick Up Where Voltage Left Off

Fashion and rock and roll have been intertwined since the musical genre originated in the 1950s–and with it, the teen fashion boom that brought leather jackets, blue jeans, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and cardigan sweaters into style. So accordingly, rock-themed fashion shows are nothing new. In Minneapolis, the most notable example was the now-defunct Voltage fashion show, which ran annually on and off between 2004 and 2013 at icon rock club First Avenue.

The new Icons fashion-and-rock event, which debuted on Saturday night at the historic St. Paul’s Athletics Club, adds a new page to the canon, carrying on the spirit of Voltage with an original vision. Partnering with Twin Cities music film organization Sound Unseen, show producer Cult Collective (which was also behind the Black Hearts Ball event this past Valentine’s Day) juxtaposed short rock documentaries with custom-designed looks by local designers, who riffed on the show’s four categories–“glam rock,” “psychedelic rock,” “ladies of rock,” and “punk rock”–alongside a live set by indie band Step Rockets and DJ sets from FooLprooF and Tickle Torture.

The show led off with a trio of glam rock-inspired looks by designers Clare LaFond, ArielSimone, and Tim+Thom to the sounds of Roxy Music’s “Love Is the Drug.” Each offered modern twist on glam rock: LaFond with a silver-and-black dress featuring bold, sci-fi-inspired shoulders; ArielSimone with a figure-hugging, Studio 54-appropriate ensemble; and Tim+Thom with a male model dressed in a gender-bending look that incorporated skin-tight, silver-and-leather pants and black lipstick.

Next, psych-rock was explored in looks by Rachel Blomgren, DeLange Designs, and Lindsey Hopkins. Blomgren incorporated her signature knitwear into a show-stopping look that included a knit fringed skirt, eccentric embroidery, tribal body paint, and exotic jewelry by Erin Smith. DeLange Designs also took an avant-garde approach to the hippie look, while Hopkins offered one of the evening’s most wearable, contemporary looks with an ethereal floral-print dress.

The “ladies of rock” segment showed a sexier side, with Danielle Everine‘s saddle hand-tooled leather booty shorts, laced at the sides, inspired by 1970s-era hand-tooled leather handbags. (She said she got some help from her husband, David Heisserer, with that time-consuming process.) She paired with with a glittery black crop top, noting Cher as the chief inspiration behind the look. 

The event concluded with punk rock-inspired looks, like Laura Fulk’s patchwork jean skirt and patch-covered leather jacket (a to-die-for piece); Sarah M. Holm‘s androgynous, bondagewear-inspired getup; and newcomer Emrys Mariel Stramer’s sheer hooded jacket.

The inclusion of the music documentary segments before each runway segment helped to givie more depth and breadth to the show. A highlight was “Kings of Glam,” a 2006 documentary by BBC Films that showcased the music and fashion of glam rockers like David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Elton John. The film was the most successful of the lot in that it showed a range of performers and styles from the era. While at times entertaining, the other documentaries–Feed Your Head: The Psychedelic Era and The Art of Punk: Black Flag–focused only on one band from the respective genres (Grateful Dead and Black Flag). And the “ladies of rock” documentary wasn’t a documentary at all, but a 14-minute montage of live footage of performers like Janis Joplin and Patti Smith. With each ranging from ten to 20 minutes in length, the documentaries made the show pace lag at times; five to seven minutes a piece would have sufficed.

While the event was promoted as having food and craft cocktail elements, the “small bites” from chef Chris Gerstner were nowhere to be found. (Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.) And the advertised “craft cocktails” appeared to be your standard bar service.

Regardless, Icons featured a genuinely unique concept in a gorgeous venue with some of the city’s best fashion designers and a talented production team. If it works these few kinks out, Icons could be poised to pick up where Voltage left off.

Look by Clare LaFond, accessories by Hardt Jewelry

Looks by Tim+Thom (left) and ArielSimone (right) 

Look by Rachel Blomgren with accessories by Erin Smith

Look by DeLange Designs, accessories by Faux Bijoux

Look by Lindsey Hopkins Collection

Look by Tessa Louise, accessories by 3 Jäg Design

Look by Danielle Everine

Look by Emrys Mariel Stramer

Look by Laura Fullk

Look by Sarah M. Holm

[Photos by Gregg Jiracek]