A resident Vancouver, Wash., fashion designer Lydia Wagner hopes to one day see her hometown thrive and become a hub of serious fashion industry goers. “Vancouver is more community based. A lot of families attend fashion shows, whereas in Portland, you have a much younger audience who actually work in fashion,” says Wagner, who believes Portland is a step up from Vancouver. Having grown up in New Hampshire, Wagner was exposed to a more ‘preppy and practical’ sense of fashion that didn’t leave a whole lot of inspiration. On the opposite side of the fashion spectrum where there’s nothing practical about Portland style, and people’s idea of dressing up to the opera may consist of blue jeans and sneakers, it’s true that anything goes, literally. “There’s a lot more risk here. They have rainbow-colored hair, tattoos and piercings, something I didn’t see back home.” Still a new fashion designer, Wagner’s participated in Vancouver’s annual fashion show, Couve Couture three years now, along with two shows at the Art Institute of Portland and a senior collection.
An extensive background in dance has shown true to her ballet-inspired collections of feminine, chiffon dresses that focus on the movement and subtle details of a garment. “I love working with silk and chiffon. It sews beautifully and takes color so well,” says Wagner who dyes her own fabrics. “I’m not a fan of polyester.”
She’s inspired by prolific fashion photographer Bill Cunningham’s candid shots of girls walking down the street in ‘relatively chic but reasonable outfits’, prancing around in high heels like an overconfident New York woman. “I’m a huge fan of crop tops and anything high-waisted” a trend we’re certainly seeing pop on runways and on streets from around the world.