I’m convinced everyone in Portland harbors a secret creative side.

At Saturday night’s jam-packed sixth annual WMPG Fashion Show at Space Gallery, I discovered Nan Cumming’s artistic alter ego. Like me, you may know her as the face of Portland Trails. Turns out this trail promoter by day is a fashion designer by night.

For the past six months, she and her sister Barbara Cameron have pawed through thrift shops searching for cardigans and vintage fabric. With their finds in hand, they cut out fun and funky patterns from the fabric and applique them to the sweaters. The result is the Cherry Belle line, which should be available soon on Etsy.com and at summer craft fairs.

“Our mother has always been an artist and she works with fabric,” Cameron said. “So we, more or less, grew up with it.”

The cardigans — with designs ranging from red roses to skulls — were modeled by Molly Dolby, Kait Peressey and Laura Kahn (who just happen to rent a Munjoy Hill apartment from Cumming).

The Cherry Belle garments, which blend nostalgia with hipster, were just one of the lines on the runway that relied on the sizzling trend of up-cycling vintage clothing.

Designer Christine DeTroy, who sells under the Christine DeTroy label at Cosmic Couture in Brunswick, is another fan of giving old textiles a new life. Her passion is drapery fabric, which she transformed into three-quarter-length jackets and a bolero for the show.

DeTroy maintains a studio at Fort Andross in Brunswick, where you can purchase her work. Another fan of this trend is Cassandra Helton, the designer behind the Helton Hill line. Sold across the country and on Etsy.com, Helton Hill showed three party dresses up-cycled from vintage garments. The models rocking the runway in Helton Hill’s smoking style were Vanessa Romanoff, Miss Maine Teen USA Norissa Morse and Miss Maine USA Katie Whittier.

However, not everything on the catwalk came with a throw-back flair.

Designer Katie Best, who works under the bee: by Katie Best label, showed a lovely summer dress with a bow on the back modeled by her sister (and No. 1 fan) Staci Best.

For painter and fashion designer Barbara Corey, drapey, flowing fabric is what catches her eye. She showed three pieces on the runway that had long, flowing lines and an ethereal feel.

Her work can be found in her Corey & Co. boutique on Pleasant Street in Portland.

Designer Jason Mowery mixed art with his fashion by spray-painting scarfs and tank tops with patterns cut from a linoleum stencil. He aims to set up an Etsy.com site soon.

Sexy cocktail and special occasion dresses define the pieces shown by designers Eva Collins and Erika Smith. I was particularly taken by a pink and orange linen dress by Erika Smith and a clingy silver dress by Eva Collins.

Smith told me she works for well-known Portland designer Jill McGowan (who was recently featured on “The Martha Stewart Show”) in addition to doing her own custom designs.

Without a doubt, the most formal and elaborate garment in the show came from designer Sam Bullock’s Road Rash Rubber label. Modeled by Kaitlyn Gradie, the gown featured a hand-cut rubber filigree overlay and a fabulous ruffled neck, also made from rubber.

Bullock recently moved to Maine and her designs are sold at the lovinganvil AndMOR store in Biddeford.

Meredith Alex, who is Portland’s reigning queen of recycled fashion, modeled one of her own Mad Girl World flirty cocktail dresses made from ’60s vintage fabric.

“I love seeing everyone’s work,” Alex told me before the show. “Portland is just a food, music, fashion fiesta.”

And wherever you find a fashion party, Alex is bound to be there.

Her line was also represented on the runway by show organizer Paul Drinan, who wore an organic cotton Madman T-shirt and an all-weather black jacket with vintage fabric applique.

Drinan had hoped to model the Mad Girl jacket he wore in Alex’s recent fashion show at Port City Music Hall, but when he went down to her Commercial Street shop to purchase it he found it had already sold.

Sounds like a lesson learned: You’ve got to act fast when dealing with Portland’s red hot couture, whether recycled or not. If you don’t, someone else is bound to walk away with your look.


Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

[email protected]


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