Recognizing Local Fashion & Style Talent
The Mercedes-Benz of Portland | Portland Fashion and Style Awards Presented by Proffer
written by Michelle Gant | photographed by Jeff Wong
ON a chilly November night, you’ll find Portland’s most fashionable lined up outside the Portland Art Museum, waiting for entrance into the grand finale event of the local fashion season. The fifth annual Mercedes-Benz of Portland | Portland Fashion and Style Awards presented by Proffer, held November 6th, brought together the top local fashion and style talent to recognize their achievements and raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The sold-out event, founded in 2012 by Ann Akre, owner of Venus Allure Salon and Spa, strives to foster collaboration and support in a rapidly growing industry. Awards are given in 24 categories, including Best Boutique, Best Salon, Best Emerging Designer, and Best Accessory Designer. This year’s event also featured local food and drinks, fashion shows, entertainment, and an after party.
Akre founded Portland Fashion and Style Awards (PFSA) with a vision to bring people together in a culture she says can often be exclusive and sometimes uninviting. “I wanted to start something that everyone could be a part of,” says Akre. When she first started the event, Akre says many people didn’t know what it was. But a lot has changed over the last five years and PFSA has flourished. “People aspire to win,” she says. “Hearing people say how great it is to be not only nominated but winning is an honor, that’s what keeps it growing strong.”
Akre has high hopes for the event’s continued success. There was increased demand for press passes this year and she says that’s just the beginning. “We’re constantly evolving and reaching a larger audience that beneficially ties the business and fashion community to enhance their individual growth says Akre. “Eventually I would like to get the community involved even more, but we’re in the planning and brainstorming phase of seeing what that looks like and how we can best execute and deliver in a timely manner. For example, our past supporting sponsors, Mercedes-Benz of Portland, Proffer and the Street of Dreams all have a component of fashion and style in their businesses. We are searching for additional industries or specific companies that view this same value in joining our mission to support the local fashion and style industry.”
The glamorous event is held downtown in the Kridel Grand Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum. Maintaining the theme of inclusiveness, tickets are available to anyone interested in attending. This year’s PFSA was hosted by local personalities Poison Waters and KINK FM’s Sheila Hamilton, who provided the audience with entertainment and plenty of laughs. Akre says their humor was one of her favorite moments of the night. “Most things that come out of Poison Waters and Sheila Hamilton’s mouths were skirting the edge of appropriate, but kept me laughing,” she says.
When it comes to planning the event, Akre says people don’t realize how much work goes into it. “From our humble beginnings, we’ve become a year-round full-time production,” she says. “We have a couple lead up events (per our title sponsor and presenting sponsor) and then work with the judges to establish and contact qualified nominees…that has to be the most time consuming part. There are 96 [nominees] in total.”
Akre and her team, who help with the year-round planning, have heard nothing but praises from the attendees about how successful this year’s event was. “Winners are so proud to come home with a title and our elegant trophies,” Akre says.
In addition to recognizing the local fashion and style talent, the PFSA is also a charitable event, featuring a silent auction to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. “We sold nearly every item at our silent auction and with tickets sold out, we added more seats on the day of the event to accommodate, which is a great start,” says Akre. She’s passionate about using the event as a local platform to promote awareness of disease. “I really like the opportunity to talk about type one diabetes and what this means to those affected by it, because I feel that awareness is so crucial to fighting the disease,” Akre says.
The PFSA was the perfect event to take in all the season’s hottest fashion trends here in Portland. The fashion shows at the event showcased designs from nominees and attendees were dressed in their best attire. When asked about her personal style, Akre emphasizes her passion for supporting the community of designers who inspired her to create the PFSA. “I really do believe in local business, so I enjoy shopping at many local boutiques around the area for my trends,” she says. “I’m enjoying natural stone jewelry, in particular cocktail rings, that I scored from Anne Bocci Boutique and Gallery. They’re great statement pieces and they don’t take too much time or effort to add to my outfit. ”At this year’s event, I was honored to be dressed by Marie Saturn, accessorized by Anne Bocci and hair and makeup by Venus Allure Salon and Spa. In past events I’ve been dressed by Wendy Ohlendorf, Stephanie Dong and Project Runway winner – Michelle Lesniak.