On the second floor of MECA, down a wide hallway and tucked behind a handful of offices, there’s a room brimming with vintage dresses, fur shawls, handsewn skirts, and a stunning pink sleeveless blouse detailed with beads.
Nearby, one-of-a-kind pieces have gathered: A headdress, a pelt vest, a pair of hand-hewn earrings.
These accessories and dresses recline in boxes and huddle on racks for now. But on April 20, those well-aged and hand-made pieces will take to the catwalk during the first annual MECA Fashion Show.
Titled “Maine: Four Seasons in a Day,” the fashion show highlights the designs of MECA alumni and current students, while giving a nod to Maine’s own distinct seasons.
And while Portland is no stranger to unique style, the fashion show will certainly be chock full of distinctive pieces that aren’t often seen on the streets of Portland: A Druidic headdress, wood-veneer bow ties, a mouse-pelt stole. Also in the mix, a selection of vintage dresses culled from a larger donation made to the school by Roxanne Quimby.
“This is not your typical fashion show,” said Dietlind Vander Schaaf, development officer at MECA. “Each look is kind of unique.”
The fashion show will feature 25 different “moments,” each featuring one to four different looks. The looks will be a fashionable blend of vintage attire purchased in far-off places, and modern pieces crafted in MECA classrooms. Some MECA alumni will be represented, too, including jewelry designer Stephanie Briggs. Her Shanti necklace, made of hand-selected rainbow moonstone, faceted cinnamon tourmaline and 18 and 22kt gold, is fit for a princess.
Briggs and current MECA student Courtney Klimowicz worked together on the Mermaid Necklace, a one-of-a-kind piece that could be a showstopper.
MECA senior Theresa Gannett designed a distinctive neckpiece (pictured above) in collaboration with metalsmith alumni Jason Morrissey, who fashioned the cabochons for the clasp.
Many of the pieces will be worn by the student who created them, although some MECA staff and community members will take to the catwalk, too. It’ll be a medlely of diverse fashions, mediums, and people, and a chance to see what students are up to.
“It’s fashion that’s accessible,” said Vander Schaaf. “All people, all sizes, all seasons.”
The evening opens at 7 pm with a reception, followed by the fashion show from 7:30-8:30 pm and gallery shopping and after party until 9:30 pm. Many of the pieces showcased in the fashion show will be available for sale, in addition to racks of vintage 70s and 80s attire, donated by Roxanne Quimby.
The fashion show takes place at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Porteous Building on Congress Street. Tickets to the fashion show are limited and cost $50 for general admission, $150 for host committee, and $1,200 for patrons. Patron tickets include front rown seating at the runway and named equipment in MECA’s new Textile and Fashion Design department. Funds raised support MECA, in particular the school’s scholarship program.