Runway ready

MN Fashion Week kicks off with “Envision: Artopia Spring 2011.”

by Sally Hedberg

WHAT: Envision: Artopia Spring 2011

WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Graves 601, 601 N. First Ave.

COST: $20 in advance; $25 at the door

ItâÄôs fair to say that MNfashion Week is the most anticipated event of local style. The next 10 days are dedicated solely to showcasing local designers, building excitement about the local fashion scene and also (obviously) drooling over some seriously sexy spring lines.

In a perfect world, one would be able to attend every fashion week runway production, but as students, itâÄôs safe to say that life and all of its textbook-related obligations will interfere. Luckily, one of the glitziest shows, âÄúEnvision: Artopia Spring 2011âÄù falls on a Saturday, serving as the perfect kickoff to a week of diverse local design.

A product of Ignite Models, V2 Nightlife, Futuretime Productions and City Pages, âÄúEnvisionâÄù seeks to give Minneapolis an in-depth look at 12 outstanding local designers and five local boutiques. The showings are looking to be incredibly diverse this spring, featuring design aesthetics that stretch completely across the artistic board.

A&E spoke with two radically different âÄúEnvisionâÄù designers about their lines for the show.

Arwyn Birch

Arwyn Birch didnâÄôt even begin designing clothes until people encouraged her burgeoning talent after she sold homemade aprons at the Uptown Diner. Now the self-taught sewer is a regular and prolific consigner for Cliché, consistently pumping out products for her vision of the essentially Minnesotan woman.

âÄúSheâÄôs got hips,âÄù Birch said. âÄúShe generally has a chest and also doesnâÄôt generally like to show her arms. If you go the other way itâÄôs just the chick with the nonexistent body that can wear anything. Thinking about the woman and her real body gives it the edge.âÄù

The inspiration for her âÄúEnvisionâÄù line is rooted in the past, mainly working with classic feminine silhouettes and knit fabrics.

âÄúIt ended up kind of resting upon âÄô60s meets âÄô20s,âÄù Birch said. âÄúIâÄôm not really a concept-line designer, but it kind of melds them together, heavier on the âÄô60s side.âÄù

Think subtle era elements like crocheting, beading, the colors red, white and black and an emphasis on neck- and hemlines.

The fusion of such distinctive fashion decades provides endless styling possibilities, but Birch puts that responsibility in the hands of others.

âÄúI have no vision when it comes to styling,âÄù Birch laughed. âÄúOnce you have someone else taking care of it and you see the difference in your pictures, you just canâÄôt do without it.âÄù

Niki English

Designing from an utterly different end of the fashion spectrum is University of Minnesota apparel design senior Niki English, who has come off of a summer interning with hyped name Zac Posen in New York.

Though characterized for her edgy cuts and dark post-apocalyptic aesthetic, English has adopted a somewhat different approach for âÄúEnvision.âÄù

âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of really wearable stuff, very minimalist, with simple chic lines and âÄî believe it or not âÄî no black,âÄù English said. âÄúA lot of this stuff you could easily wear to work. ItâÄôs the brighter side of the post-apocalypse.âÄù

Collaborating with Eunie Colours, a print-designer friend from New York, English will incorporate custom printed fabrics inspired from things like armor, bugs and bruises. The line will center on luxurious fabrics like cotton satine and silk charmeuse, all nonsynthetic.

As a designer with a notably different vision than most of whatâÄôs buzzed about in Minneapolis, English looks forward to making the big move to New York.

âÄúI feel like my style isnâÄôt well represented in Minneapolis,âÄù English said. âÄúMinnesota does sweet and innocent indie styles. ThereâÄôs more perspective, and I want to represent that. IâÄôm jumping Minneapolis ship.âÄù