Diva disappointment

As usual, DivaMN delivered more skin than anyone really needed to see (think past-his-prime, off-key drag queen in a thong swimsuit so tight, it was painful to watch) and less fashion than promised at its big annual event at International Market Square Saturday night. As far as being a fun, irreverent, let-loose party unlike any other major fundraiser in town, it’s  all that – and some of the best people-watching you’ll see, from shirtless women (the only reason my husband didn’t bolt for the door) to boys in tiny leather shorts to fashionistas decked out in sequins and dashing men in suits. But Club Diva bills itself as more than a fashionable night – it’s also a fashion show, and this year was supposed to begin a new chapter of spotlighting budding young talent in town. Unfortunately, most came off as costume-y at best and far from ready for retail. Jason Hammerberg was the exception, with his colorful and contemporary men’s line, reminiscent of his days with Kuhlman. "Project Runway’s" Jack Mackenroth – clad in a black t-shirt and jeans and appearing to have quite a ball socializing with everyone from Macy’s execs to Diva organizers – showed around eight looks that he gathered up from his workroom:  a couple of men’s looks, a few dresses. Charming as he is, it didn’t make for much of a finale.
Besides, by the time the runway show started, attendees were itching to get to the bar, having sat (or worse yet, stood) through an inordinately long live auction that no one could follow even if she wanted to, due to the horrible IMS acoustics. Sigh. DivaMN is a wonderful organization, supporting AIDS/HIV programs in Minnesota, and it’s always fun to have an excuse to dress up, or dress a little crazy. But if the group expects people to spend $150 or more to attend, they really need to go back to the drawing board and give this event a major makeover.

I think Jack Mackenroth, the Project Runway contestant who had to bow out early this season due to illness, was robbed of the $10,000 fan favorite award on this week’s reunion show. And I got the chance to tell him in person this morning, when we met up at Cliche in Minneapolis. Jack – who was actually born in MN – is in town to judge DivaMN’s student design competition (he sees himself as more of a Michael than a Nina, fyi) and he’ll be back March 8 to show his own mini-collection at the big Club Diva AIDS fundraiser at International Market Square (tix still available).
As for the fan fave, Jack agreed that he deserved the sympathy vote, but says it’s out of sight, out of mind on TV and his exit happened too early to maintain the momentum. He’s actually good friends with the winner of the fan favorite prize and show prodigy, Christian. As arrogant as that "fierce" young designer is, Jack says Christian is talented enough to back it up and a lot of fun to be around. On the other hand, Chris, who got to come back when Jack exited, he didn’t have such nice things to say about…
I’ll have a full report of our shopping trip and more PR gossip in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, March 2.