Night 1 of MNfashion's Shows thinks spring

JAHNA PELOQUIN | Updated 9/27/2013

REVIEW: The two-night showcase previews spring trends from emerging and established Twin Cities designers.

[Look by Samantha Rei]

Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week (MSPFW) continued last night at Aria with the first of two nights of the Shows, an MNfashion-produced showcase of emerging and established local fashion designers. Keeping in line with the industry standard of presenting collections a season early, designers debuted their lines for spring/summer 2014. While other MSPFW shows like “Envision: Artopia” spotlight what’s in stores and on trend now, the Shows give a glimpse of what’s to come.

[Read our review of Night 2 of the Shows]

Night one kicked off with two of the Twin Cities’ most recognizable names in fashion, Christopher Straub of "Project Runway" fame and Samantha Rei, along with newcomers Cocoon and Hackwith Design House. Straub opened the show with a street-smart collection of fleece dresses and slouchy separates with metallic accents -- standout pieces included a metallic green varsity jacket and wear-it-now heather grey fleece dress. Styled with boots and knit beanies and featuring Straub's own prints, the line was a departure for the designer known for feminine-yet-edgy dresses, demonstrating he has as much of a knack for streetwear as he does for eveningwear. My only criticisms: I could have used fewer of the octopus-like patent leather decals appearing on many of the garments, and it would have been nice to see the collection rounded out with some chic dresses.


[Looks by Christopher Straub]

Having recently rebranded her line from Blasphemina’s Closet to simply Samantha Rei, it’s clear that the designer is intent on moving away from her steampunk background to embrace a more mainstream appeal. Indeed, her latest line offers some more wearable, on-trend designs -- including high/low hem lengths, shirtdresses and rompers -- while staying true to her Victorian-inspired, ruffle-skirted roots (complete with some truly stunning feather-and-leather headpieces she co-designed by milliner Apatico and leatherworkers Artist Built). Her inspiration was, as usual, inspired -- titled "Cyclone Wasteland," the collection imagined a post-apocalyptic world based on "The Wizard of Oz," with looks based on the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy's gingham dress and the poppy field. But without this backstory, it looked like much of the same from the designer. Next time, here's hoping she focuses on design innovation as much as the storyline.


[Looks by Samantha Rei]

Though it launched back in 2010, last night saw the runway debut of Hackwith Design House. On its website, the line calls itself “chic, ageless and comfortable,” and it proved to be just that. Designer Lisa Hackwith presented a minimalist collection of bleach-spotted separates and dresses in a muted, mineral-colored palette, showcasing her eye for textiles and adeptness at creating deceptively effortless-looking designs. That effortless and simplicity was clearly the effect that Elizabeth Geisler was going for with her line Cocoon, though it fell short in execution, despite demonstrating some interesting ideas.

Night two of the Shows takes place tonight at Aria, with doors at 6:30 p.m. and showtime at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are still available at

[Look by Hackwith Design House]

[Look by Hackwith Design House]

[Look by Cocoon]

[Look by Cocoon]

Photos by Ellen Dahl Lawson