Co-owners of the design collective Seaplane show their finery at Wieden & Kennedy
When local design house Seaplane approached Wieden & Kennedy to host its spring 2003 fashion show, the venerable ad agency responded with a resounding 'Just do it.'
The event will be the third production by Holly Stalder and Kate Towers, the founders and owners of Seaplane, a design collective located on Southeast Belmont Street.
With 'XOX Seaplane Runway Show,' the two hope to replicate the smash successes of their sold-out 2001 shows at B Complex and the Viscount Ballroom.
Stalder, 29, says that finding the right location to showcase the work of more than a dozen designers is tougher than putting the show together.
'It takes us about six months to create a show,' she says. 'About 5 1/2 months of that is finding the space.'
Once they saw the lean, spacious lines that have put Wieden & Kennedy on Portland's architectural map, the women were certain they'd found the right stage.
'It's like eye candy,' says Towers, 26. 'We saw it, and we were sold. The space sets the tone; it's so clean and open.'
Show production is something that gets easier with practice, say the owners of the 3-year-old business.
'We're really cleaning up our act, in the sense that the show will only be representing designers who are really making an effort here in our store,' Towers says.
Stalder says the result will be a strikingly polished affair.
'Every time we do a show, we try to make it better than the last,' she says. 'This one will definitely be more cohesive than our past shows.'
The event will feature the work of 14 designers, including established locals such as Claire La Faye, Narcissia Dial and Dyed. Looks by promising newcomers such as Frocky Jack Morgan and Adam Arnold also will take to the catwalk.
Viewers can count on seeing a 'sprinkling of menswear,' Stalder says.
Not merely landlords, Stalder and Towers are also formidable designers in their own right. Stalder's contribution to the evening will include diaphanous, hand-dyed dresses in a beautiful sea-green nylon. Towers believes in femininity for spring, evident in a fitted floral taffeta dress that will be part of Saturday's show.
In their first two shows, Towers and Stalder showed a flair for creating a multifaceted event, with pre-show music, contests and auctions adding to the evening's festive feel. The women say that this show will be no exception. Entertainment will include a mix of live music and a DJ, nibbles and drinks, and vendors selling their fashionable wares in makeshift boutiques.
The two say that they've seen a big increase in the number of self-professed fashion designers in Portland during their few years at Seaplane.
'I think people come here and they get inspired,' Stalder says. 'Seeing what other people are doing gives them the kick needed to start something.'
Seaplane's success also has inspired its talented founders to look to the future.
'Oh, we have a lot of big plans,' Towers says. 'We'd love to open another store that sold a different kind of product Ñ like fashion staples. We'd also like to continue to have big shows, and to travel for inspiration.'
'I'd like to have a bigger design studio where we can sew,' Stalder chimes in. 'I'm still sewing in my kitchen!'
Contact Jill Spitznass at