Views from Voltage

Voltage1 And MNfashion Week is off…to an auspicious start. Voltage: Fashion Amplified gets better every year. Emma Berg and PFT Couture were among the most promising designers. Kevin Kramp's knitwear abilities are truly impressive, and I hope never to see one of his sweater onesies on a grown man. One of the best moments of the evening was seeing the petite MaydaLaura Fulk in a ensemble threatening to "break your stereo." Appearance can be deceiving.

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Betsey Betsey Johnson finally opened today at Mall of America (thanks for the pics, ED!) and soon she'll have some new friends. Francesca's opens Saturday. And coming soon: American Eagle's new kids concept, 77Kids(especially cool for boys – I've been shopping it online). Two others MOA can't claim as exclusive, but they are still new: Lululemon Athletica (also opening next week at Shops at West End in St. Louis Park) and Soma Intimates(which opened this week at Rosedale Center). Stay tuned – more arrivals to be announced soon.

People over 30: Put a dress on and go to a fashion show! The 20somethings who partied past midnight at the Envision show on Saturday night (which included some really fab, very wearable pieces from Bumbershute, Local Motion, OPM and others) think we're lame. Not helped by the fact that I took my 20-year-old intern as my date (you looked great, Megan!) when my friends – and babysitter – failed me. We've got to represent. I've already pointed out some highlights for MNfashion Week but after going backstage at the Ritz Theater yesterday and seeing the Ballet of the Dolls dancers prepare to strut their stuff to Mary J Blige in 8-inch platforms, it's worth suggesting again that you get tickets to Fashion Ball for April 23 or 24. This is the first time Glamorama vets Myron Johnson and Grant Whittaker have done a fashion week event and it looks like it's going to be a blast. Besides the theatrics, they'll be showing collections from Grethen House N'Etc and J. Novachis.Tickets are $30 and proceeds support Ballet of the Dolls. Also of note: Laura Fulk's April 20 show, originally invitation only, has been opened up to the public. Click here to get on the list while the gettin's good. Last year, Fulk's presentation, while entirely conceptual, really raised the bar locally for serious fashion show production. Now that she's aligned herself with business partners focused on getting her clothes into stores nationally, it will be interesting to see how all the elements come together. YOU could witness a designer in the making. And wouldn't it be refreshing to do something other than dinner and a movie?

Well, it's not Heidi Klum or even Tim Gunn, but Project Runway's Christopher Straub promised someone "big" would be coming to his premiere runway show at the St. Paul Hotel on April 25 and today he confirmed Janice Dickenson will be sitting front row. Hey, in Minnesota, that's better than a local news anchor, right?
Straub has never actually met Dickenson; both happen to work with Oryon Media, which is staging a model call earlier the same day that Dickenson will also headline. Straub said he'd love to dress the model-turned-reality star for his show, but he's not sure she'll go for all the ruffles. "She has a very specific body type."
General admission tickets are still available for $15 through Vital Culture.

Soma Soma Intimates, Chico's answer to Victoria's Secret, will open its first Twin Cities location Wednesday at Rosedale Center. The store offers bras, shape wear, lounge apparel and more with modest, but not matronly styling. Most bras go up to a 40 or 42, DD or DDD. Stop by April 14 to 28 for this grand opening special: Get a free bra with a $50 purchase.

Forget your Brazilian Blowouts, keratin treatments and Moroccan oils: The next big salon trend is going organic. In the Twin Cities, we've already got a handful of "organic" salons that pride themselves on using non-toxic products. There's Hairs2You in Roseville, the new Kasia Organic Salon in South Minneapolis and Nurturing You Beyond Organic, also in Minneapolis. But the tipping point could be this breaking news: Aveda founder and Intelligent Nutrients creator Horst Rechelbacher plans to open a new organic salon in the Twin Cities. Today, IN's Facebook page announced April 19 auditions for "rockstar hairstylists with 8 to 10 years experience, a strong client base and "a sense of adventure." More details to come!

Store hits the road

Mobilegroom Don't Make Me Beg isn't going to anymore. The Grand Avenue pet boutique has decided not to renew its lease at the end of May. Instead, owner Sandra plans to take her dog and cat show on the road. She's assembled a mobile grooming van (pictured) complete with water, tub, table and dryer. She also registered with the National Groomers Association of America and is getting certified in grooming. Next month, she'll bring the service to you. Now that's luxury people might pay for. 

Continuing their bid for Total Domination of 50th & France, one of the partners behind Bluebird Boutique and Ladyslipper plans to open a store for men in half of the former Pull Out a Plum space at 4946 France Ave. S. in Edina. Sacha Martin tells me she and her boyfriend plan to open BLUEPEG in August.

Need dresses. Stat! Last night's MNfashion Week preview party set the stage for a line-up so packed, it's going to require more than a week to get to all of these events. If you've never participated before, now is the time to show your support for an energetic, ambitious community of designers who are trying to put the Twin Cities on the map. The entire calendar of events – more than 40 in all – and ticket information is at Here are just a few worth considering:

Rockin. Voltage: Fashion Amplified. The event that started it all remains the highlight of MNfashion Week. A runway rock show featuring the spring collections of 10 budding designers and performances by local bands.  $25 in advance; $30 at the door. 8 p.m. Friday, April 16; First Avenue.

Casual. Local Artist T-Shirt Mart. Shop for t-shirts (adults and kids sizes) created by local designers. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 17; Walker Art Center, Cargill Lounge.

Charitable. Style for Smiles. Kokoon teams up with Project Healthy Smile, a local non-profit dedicated to providing dental supplies and oral health education to underprivileged children around the world and donates 20 percent of sales to the cause. Enter to win a private photo shoot, enjoy complimentary mini makeovers by local make-up artist Kate Erickson, and style tips from HMStyling. Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres served. 7 p.m. (8 p.m. show) Saturday, April 17; CW Lofts, 730 Stinson Blvd., Minneapolis.

Artsy. Clothes Off Our Backs. Blacklist Vintage hosts a fashion presentation featuring living “mannequins” on pedestals. Customers are invited to buy the clothes off their backs and have them altered on the spot. Plus refreshments and live DJ. 7 p.m. (8 p.m. show), Wednesday, April 21; 25 E. 26th St., Minneapolis

Trendy. Shop Local at Picky Girl. Preview spring collections and meet some of the boutique’s favorite local designers including Calpurnia Peach, Post ~ Luxury Accessories, and Nelle Handbags. 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 22. Picky Girl, 949 Grand Ave., St. Paul

Fabulous. Fashion Ball “Cabaret Catwalk.” The runway meets Moulin Rouge at this fashion show and Ballet of the Dolls performance, plus a pop up boutique produced by local veterans Grant Whittaker and Myron Johnson. Fashions from Grethen House n’Etc, John Novachis, Specs Optical and Ann Lambrecht Jewelry. $30. 8 p.m. Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24; Ritz Theater

Grassroots. Alter/Nation. Take part in the evolution of garments from clothing swap to altering to styling to runway without consuming raw materials in this first of its kind integrated event produced by new local upcycling brand CounterCouture. In addition to a clothing swap, take part in live screen printing, makeovers image consulting, fashion shows and a photo booth. $5. 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 24. MNfashion Studio, 79 13th Ave. N.E. #212, Minneapolis.

Hot. A Man’s Show. A runway show featuring men’s clothing from VState, Elsworth, Details Style Lab, and eyewear from the Spectacle Shoppe with live music. Donations will be requested following the show, and attendees will be able to “buy their discount,” meaning a $10 donation equals 10 percent off, up to a $30 donation equaling 30 percent off. All donations will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Twin Cities organization. 8 p.m. Saturday, April 24; Lowry Theater, 16 W. 5th St., St. Paul.

Buzzworthy. Christopher Straub Premier Collection. The Project Runway designer presents his first full collection for the hometown crowd. $15 to $50. 4 p.m. (doors) 5:30 p.m. (show) followed by reception, Sunday, April 25; St. Paul Hotel.