Ask anyone who pays attention to our local fashion movements and they’ll know who Adam Arnold is. He is the top cutting-edge designer admired by many because he has mastered the balance between function and fine art. Arnold believes “clothing is to be worn, both at work and leisure, and must always feature a simple, modern and confident design.”
I first saw Arnold’s work in the 2004 Seaplane Fashion show which rocked the Portland fashion audience. Imagine a group of models marching out onto the runway with tiny calculated steps. The synchronization of their motion was echoed by the click-ticking old-school office calculators mounted on their thighs. While one hand hacked away at the calculator keypads, sending curly receipt paper cascading to the floor, the other hand was firmly planted on another model’s big, orange shoulder pad. Galen Amussen, make-up artist and hair extraordinaire, worked red frizzy hair into a tangle that defied gravity and excellently juxtaposed the fake freckles. Lacking professional fashion terms, I can only compare Arnold’s clothing that night to 1970s space-movie clothing: pure white, black lines, firmly constructed and conveying a sense that the clothing’s function is beyond the understanding our common work uniform.
Mr. Arnold not only pushes our local fashion movement, but he is nice enough to answer a couple questions.
I grew up here and found myself terribly inspired when I returned after an eight-year tour of the West Coast. Portland has something in the field of design that other cities want but are afraid or too image-centric to admit or recognize. In other words, it is possible in Portland to design and create a whole new kind of design because no one is looking here for it. When the new design has been established, we’re going to bite all their asses, and they’ll be scrambling to copy us.
How do you balance fabric, construction and design?
Where do your influences come from?
I think any living thing on this planet is influenced by their senses whether or not they want to be. I like to think I fall into this category, only I am creating clothes to wear based on these influences.
Who are your favorite designers, locally or worldwide?
They are mostly dead and too numerous to mention. Also there are a bunch I am sure I haven’t even heard of yet.
If you had it your way, what would people wear in the future?
I am not sure how to answer this question. The first thing I thought was that I very rarely get my way, so this would be quite a stretch. Secondly, when I think about the future, I think about sometime a hundred years from now when in reality the future is always the next second, minute, hour, day, etc. I believe the future is made up of the past and the present. It sometimes repeats itself, but never under the same circumstances. I would suppose that people would look like they do in my dreams: kind of like they do right now, but slightly different. Something you can’t quite pinpoint. Kind of like the future itself.
You can visit Mr. Arnold and his custom-fit clothing at his studio, 727 S.E. Morrison St., 503-234-1376