Avoid the Grey: New inspiration breeds new direction

Categories: Fashion
Avoid the grey 6 stacy schwartz.jpg
Photo by Stacy Schawrtz
Walking into the Grain Belt Brewery building in northeast Minneapolis on Saturday night felt a bit like entering a new club: There was a long line down the street, high heels everywhere, booming music, and sea of little black dresses. Like most fashion events these days, Avoid the Grey has increasingly become less about the presentation and more about what attendees are wearing. 

Regardless of people who seemed more into photo ops than the designs, Avoid the Grey, an annual fashion show presented by Cliche boutique, delivered an art- and film-inspired evening with new direction.

Avoid the grey 5 stacy schwartz.jpg
Photo by Stacy Schawrtz
The building's open space housed five white boxes around the perimeters of the room, each with peeping Tom-esque holes to which a viewer could spy a model posing in creations by local designers. The impressive selection of participants included Carmichael Claith, Needle & Black, Kjurek, Gina Marie Vintage, Sarah Holm, Amanda Christine, Ariel Simone, Rachel Blomgren, Kathryn V, and Danielle Everine. Boxes were built specific to each designer's inspirations, packed heavy with thematic material including horror films, modern art, music, and fantasy. What made this presentation stand out was that designers had created pieces that were less marketable and were more conceptual.  From a model on stilts in a yellow cut-out dress by Ariel Simone, to a bare goddess gown by Gina Marie Vintage, to an art inspired knitwear piece by Rachel Blomgren, this year's set of designers cohesively added a bit more risk to their work, perhaps prompted by the show's artistic curation.  

Avoid the grey 4 stacy schwartz.jpg
Photo by Stacy Schawrtz
But that seemed to be the whole point of the event, as it was indeed multifaceted. The incorporation of lighting (by Anthem Heart), set design (by uber creatives like Caroline Debevec, Isa Gagarin, Daniel Jaffe, and Emilie Robinson), and music, gave each design a unique perspective. Peeping into each box felt much like looking into a private dream -- or nightmare -- and attendees had to squint and bend around tall white boxes to see inside. 

Avoid the Grey managed to take fashion presentation to the next level with no runway, no queued models, and no organized seating. This year, attendees could mingle about with drinks and truly interact with designer's work. However, a presentation that is highly interactive also needs to consider many small details. Moving forward, it might be better to use plexiglass in place of a white box so attendees can clearly see each set. Or how about utilizing the entire space at the Grain Belt Brewery so that people upstairs in the balcony area can actually take in the presentations from various angles? Or how about being able to walk into each individual box to experience, so as to experience the full effect of each piece?

Regardless, Avoid the Grey continues to evolve and push the boundaries of fashion presentation, and it certainly has minds thinking outside the box.

For more images from the event, check out Cliche's Avoid the Grey slideshow by photographer Stacy Schwartz.

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