Portland designers bring confidence to the catwalk

Beauty, strength and power are three things that every woman strives to embody.

Beauty, strength and power are three things that every woman strives to embody. Those bold ideas are what inspired local fashion designers Devon Yan Berrong and Stephanie D. Couture while creating their 2011 spring and summer collections for Portland Fashion Week.

Devon, self-taught creator of “Devonation,” uses only black and white for his show and draws inspiration from military details.

“When I decided to do black and white, I thought, ‘Yes!’ I can do military also, because it is very powerful. Black and white, to me, is very serious, powerful and professional,” Devon said. His goal is to create clothes that both men and women will feel comfortable and confident in.

One of the contestants in the Catapult Emerging Designer Competition, Devon plays with texture to make his collection visually interesting. Each piece has a great flow, making an impact as it goes down the runway. From beaded fringe detailing sewn onto military inspired shoulder pads to light and airy chiffon on his cocktail dresses, every piece in his collection is memorable.

“Devonation” also includes pieces for men. His inverted peace sign shirt takes a normal button-up shirt and adds some visual interest through color blocking and pleating while maintaining a powerful look. Devon also gives some power to the wearer. Every look he creates—including his cocktail dresses and stunning evening gowns—is made from separates that can be mixed and matched with each other.

His looks can be transformed from eveningwear to practical daywear by switching out the skirt for a pair of leggings or jeans. His evening gown consists of a sleeveless top with military shoulder pads and a skirt with a sexy slit up the side to create eye-catching movement as it goes down the runway. Perhaps the best thing about the look is that the gown could be worn to an evening event one night, and the top could be worn with a pair of jeans or a pencil skirt to work the very next day without any difficulty. His line will make any man or woman feel confident and powerful while remaining practical and comfortable.

Stephanie D. Couture, a graduate of the Art Institute of Portland who owns her own clothing line, also strives to make women feel strong and powerful through a softer approach to design by draping. Instead of incorporating the feeling of raw power from a military standpoint, her designs pull from the feeling of power a woman has when she knows she looks beautiful in her own clothes. Inspired by Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, Stephanie specializes in creating beautiful pieces for special occasions including bridal gowns. The main goal for her spring 2011 line was to “express thoughts that serve to inspire, reveal and provoke the beauty, strength, wisdom and power of a woman.” The beautiful draping of her gowns does exactly that. Their graceful movement and flow are sure to make those around do a double take at the wearer.

Whether you prefer a strong, undeniably powerful look or would rather wear a subtler statement of strength, these two designers can deliver. Devon’s collection provides stunningly powerful pieces that will make any wearer walk with confidence. The versatility and accessibility of his designs are sure to add a great dimension to any wardrobe. Meanwhile, if you are looking to exude beauty through self-confidence for a special occasion, Stephanie’s use of draping and construction will be sure to do the trick. If you’d like to see these stunning creations for yourself, or check out any other designers, you can watch the looks go down the runway during Portland Fashion Week.