Eugene Weekly : Fashion : 5.1.08

Fashion Under the Big Top
Cirque De Luxe is a smash-up at the fairgrounds

Under the circus tent lurks a world of optical illusions and strange secrets. Saturday night’s Cirque De Luxe fashion show brought those illusions to life through Eugene’s world of design.

Cirque De Luxe is the second event of its kind, following last year’s District Mode show in February. Both were produced by Mitra Chester of Deluxe, a boutique and secondhand clothing shop on Willamette.

The scene was undeniably Eugene: The music was loud, the hair colors bright and the clothes verging on outrageous. Amelia Hart Kimball from KWVA’s “Girls’ Room” presided in an enormous top hat. She began the show by introducing a woman in a red jumpsuit who walked confidently to the end of the runway, picked up a glowing hula hoop and proceeded to hoop her way around the stage like I’d never seen anyone hula-hoop before.

Then the real show began.

It was an impressive showing of 23 designers and their handmade designs. Many of the clothes centered around one theme: the punk rock princess. Hot pink bustiers trimmed with black lace and gold lamé dresses were in abundance. While that style seemed to rule the evening, there were definitely some unique collections. Jaunty Designs by Moria Wheeler opened the show with an extreme amount of pleather (at least it’s animal-friendly!) and a great showing of colorful summer dresses. Jaunty Designs had one of the few collections geared towards summer, but their dresses — short enough to be worn as tanks but long enough to be not-too-scandalous alone — could also translate into fall and be worn over leggings or jeans. Still, perhaps the best part of Jaunty Designs’ collection was the menswear: Guys in super short shorts, tight tees and sweatbands recreated the Michael Cera in Juno look.

Deluxe had an Amelia Earhart theme: Flying helmets (in fabric and therefore wearable), mechanics’ jumpsuits and elbow-length gloves all emphasized aviation. Deluxe also looked to 19th century England for its take on fashion and showed men’s and women’s jackets with tails and even top hats in tow.

Another great collection was by Gretchen Lohry-Smith for Gidget Fashion. It was the most formal approach to fashion at the show, featuring thick cotton cap-sleeved dresses that hit just above the knee as well as a great black and white plaid skirt with a short gray jacket and matching plaid sleeves. The many suits emphasized the shape of a woman while remaining classic and simple.

As with most fashion shows, the clothes on display were not necessarily everyday apparel, but unlike many shows, Cirque De Luxe’s runway celebrated diversity. I heard a number of people comment on how great it was to see plus sized (and I don’t mean “plus sized” size 6) models along with tall, short and racially diverse models.

Fashion was the focus on the runway, but it wasn’t the sole focus of the party. Cirque De Luxe was primarily about supporting local designers and showing off the creativity of Eugene’s talents, including those who featured their locally made soap, jewelry and handbags in the evening’s product fair. “My goal was basically to give local designers an opportunity to have the ability to directly present their designs and what they do to the community without having to follow any rules,” says Chester. In that sense, the night was more than a success: Wheeler Pavilion was packed, and every time a model stepped onto the runway he or she was greeted with cheers and applause. Maybe it’s time for the show to become a Eugene tradition? Chester says, “I’d like to see it become a yearly event. At least, I think it would be great. It seems to be something that everyone really enjoys.”


To purchase the designs in the fair or on the runway at Cirque De Luxe, check out the program given at the door. If you forgot to bring it home with you or didn’t go to the show (we’ll pretend you had a previous engagement), stop in at Deluxe (1313 Willamette) or Infinity Mercantile (780 Blair Blvd.) to find the designers.



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