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The Ross Who Knew Too Much

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Voltage in full

Just got home from Voltage Fashion Amplified. And, wow, what a night.

Seriously, I've been to plenty of these types of hybrid events and I was quite impressed at just how well organized and how (relatively) smoothly the evening progressed. And it wasn't merely professional, it was a whole mess of fun. Truly, it was a night for hometown pride -- the music and the designers, not to mention the audience that was there to support them all. It was very much a give me a hug, would you sort of night, in the best possible sense. I've got a pair of pals coming into town from D.C. for the holiday weekend, and I sure wish they'd have arrived today so they could see the Twin Cities at their finest. (Instead, they'll have to settle for heart-sized steaks here, some record-store shopping here, tater tots here and a cocktail or two here.)

First Avenue was extremely sold out, but I was taken by just how many of those in attendance were actually paying attention and not, like, just schmoozing. (Then again, there was plenty of schmoozing -- several people mentioned this to me, and I agreed, that it was totally a night where every 10 feet there was another person you knew and/or hadn't seen out on the town in ages.)

The concept -- designers showing their work with bands performing live -- isn't exactly a new one. And, to be honest, there were some snafus. Some of the bands weren't quite in sync with the models -- and vice versa -- leading to a few awkward moments where models were stranded out on the runway at the end of a song. (And openers Melodious Owl suffered from some technical difficulties. But -- bless his heart -- lead singer Wes Statler carried on as if he was headlining Madison Square Garden. And saxophone player Jon Kuder has grown himself a head of hair that threatens Wes in terms of sheer rock power.)

Still, the overall vibe was overwhelmingly positive. The crowd was there to have a good time, the fashions looked fantastic and the bands rocked the house. And, as usual, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy to see First Avenue living up to its reputation as the finest live venue in town (and possibly the entire Midwest). I chatted briefly with booker Nate Kranz, who was positively beaming. Are there winds of change blowing through our fair Twin Cities? Quite possibly!

As far as the music goes, I was most impressed with the TV Sound, who rocked in a sort of Killers/Bravery new-wave-of-new-wave way, but without the nasty aftertaste. Do I suddenly have a new favorite local band? (Lead singer Steven Hutton was also a featured designer.)

For the fashion, I turned to my partner in crime, Brock Tune, who is a professional in the fashion circuit and actually knows what he's talking about when it comes to clothes. To be clear, we didn't see every designer's work, but here's what Brock Tune had to say:

The biggest thing I took away from the night was how incredible it was, how amazing those clothes were and how unbelievably impressed I am by these local designers. I was expecting the clothes to be odd -- and weird for weird's sake. I wasn't expecting them to be on par with major designers.

There was lots of stuff that was very saleable -- or at least fantasy pieces that could be interpreted to be saleable. I guess I was just blown away.

I loved Taissa Lada. Her work was just spectacular, I don't know what else to say. The peacock dress was perfection. I could see that dress in Vogue.

Mackenzie LaBine -- every new starlet in Hollywood could wear her stuff. It had that "now" look to it.

Lauren Schad -- I was disappointed I didn't get to see the revolver dress (shown on the Voltage Web site).

Kristin Thoreson was, in my mind, the highlight of the whole evening. Her work was so innovative and cheery and fun. It was like she was showing true haute couture.

I loved the hats by Ruby3 (a.k.a. Anna Lee, Voltage's organizer). They were so fun, like the Derby on acid. And I'm from Kentucky, so I do know the Derby. Anna Lee, I need one of your big feather hats.

So there you have it. Do we really have to wait an entire year for the next one?


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