After a Fashion

Fashion correspondent Tom Palmer reports from Iceland's Futurice fashion week.

TOM OF ICELAND In our quest to bring you the best, "After a Fashion" takes great pleasure in introducing and handing over this week's column to friend and fashion colleague, Tom Palmer. Mr. Palmer, whose interest in fashion has little to do with designing dresses, is completing his degree in economics and has ambitions to manage a stable of world-famous designers, much like LVMH's Bernard Arnault. His involvement in local fashion ranges from the UT Fashion Group to the Designers' Guild of Austin and public relations consultant to the board of IDoL Gallery. Mr. Palmer has recently had the opportunity to visit Iceland's first ever Fashion Week, Futurice. With Fashion Weeks popping out all over the globe like chicken pox, Iceland seems like an unlikely candidate; the population of the entire country is a little more than half of Austin's (if they can have one, so can we), but is increasingly making itself known in the worlds of fashion, music, and art. Let's take our front-row seats for this historic fashion event:

GLAMOUR ON THE GLACIER We came, we saw, we wore our favorite sweaters in August. Friends, I am talking about three whirlwind days spent attending Iceland's inaugural Fashion Week. I know -- right now you've got images of poofy fur parkas and snow boots on the tundra, and before I touched down in Reykjavik, that's what I imagined too. Such a misconception only heightened the bliss when I discovered the truth about Europe's newest fashion scene. My partner in crime for the event was Kendall Morgan, fashion journalist for The Dallas Morning News, longtime friend and notorious mischief-maker. She arranged for press passes, and with a well-planned itinerary before us, jet lag would simply have to wait. I polished up my camera, and we prepared to join the brigade of international fashionistas. Over my first Icelandic meal (sandwiches of honey, mayonnaise, and bell pepper), it became obvious that whatever fashion spectacle may lie ahead would be intriguing. From those same clean, bustling streets and haunting countryside came electronica heavyweights Gus Gus, rock & roll goddess Moa, godmother of cyberstyle Björk, up-and-coming ambienteers Sigur R#243;s, and even Gunnar Hansen, the original Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. With that kind of legacy, Iceland's young designers were already off to a good start. Futurice, as the event was formally named, wasted little time getting to the point. On the hourlong bus ride to the first set of fashion shows, we took in the alien topography. Vast stretches of moss-covered rock gave the impression that trolls were going to pop out over the next jagged hilltop. With billowing steam rising from a valley, we finally reached the Blue Lagoon, possibly Iceland's biggest attraction to locals and tourists alike. Brilliantly utilizing the Lagoon's geothermal hot springs, civic planners built a virtually pollution-free energy plant in conjunction with a public bathing facility known for beauty-enhancing effects. But that night, the Lagoon was to become an electrified petri dish of musical and design talent. Poised at the end of the runway, the effects of the bubbling blue Absolut cocktails vanished with the debut collection of Aftur. The highlight of the event were sisters Bára & Raven, who put together a collection that mixed the psycho tailoring of early Alexander McQueen with the trashy aesthetic of 1980s cock rock. Faded black heavy metal T-shirts were reborn as sexy dresses and mixed with jacket/shawl/capes. With a host of Eighties-inspired accessories, those girls have a firm grip on rock & roll's sex appeal. The evening progressed with collections from Sæunn/Æ and Ragna Fr#243;öa/Path of Love, as well as the collections from Britain's Tristan Webber, and Parisian genius/freak Jeremy Scott. Just as the audience was about to overdose from all the eye candy onstage, the lights dimmed, everyone turned 180 degrees, and Iceland's hottest musical acts took over. Gus Gus kept everyone's heart rate up, and Moa didn't disappoint, even if Björk did by being a no-show. At the next day's show, Eighties Revival was again a central theme, though wispy ultra-feminine pieces of classic beauty balanced the spectacle. Futurice came to an end later that night with a fête hosted by the Reykjavik's mayor and a glammed-up after-hours party hosted by Aftur. On the bus back to the airport, hazy from too many bubbling blue cocktails, it occurred to me that if trolls were running around in the hills, they probably looked great doing it. -- Tom Palmer

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