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If I told you that one of our local museums was hosting a fashion happening that had the potential to really boost local talent and will definitely add knowledge, insight, and experience to the community, you would probably guess that it was that big, one-name joint downtown doing the to-do. Actually, it’s the Nordic Heritage Museum.

In conjunction with the Nordic House in Reykjavik, Iceland, the Ballard institute is hosting the first American iteration of the Nordic Fashion Biennale. It’s because of a successful program last year, Nordic Heritage’s 2010 Arctic Summer Fashion Show, that Ballard, and Seattle, got that honor. Reps from the Icelandic organization were here to see the 2010 show (check the slideshow here for a few images courtesy Nordic Heritage); they were impressed, and decided we should start the stateside party.

The celebration of style and global design runs from September 30 through November 13 and will consist of three elements: a street fashion photo exhibit from the Nordic capitals, contemporary fashion from the five Nordic Countries shown with traditional customs from the Museum’s archives, and a sort of all-encompassing, genre-skipping exhibit of Nordic design to be installed in various formats throughout the Museum.

And, then there’s the design competition.

Open to fashion design students who live and create in the West Coast states (WA, OR, CA, AK: that’s you! BC and the Yukon: you’re in also!), the Biennale’s fashion competition, NxNW, counts the creative director of Diane Von Furstenberg, Denmark’s leading skin care expert, and Icelandic designer Steinunn among its judges.

A two-day symposium focusing on sustainability, slow fashion, cultural heritage, and current trends in the marketplace presents another opportunity for the Northwest’s up-and-coming designers to get face time with global leaders. This aspect of the biennale is curated by New York-based Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, also known as Shoplifter—also known as, let’s be honest, A Pretty Big Deal. Having collaborated with VPL, dressed Bjork, and been given page of praise in the New York Times, Shoplifter in Seattle is something to pay attention to.

The biennale, in general, is definitely something to pay attention to. You’ll be hearing more about it from us in the weeks to come; in the meantime, tell every up-and-coming dress designer and thing-maker you know to check out the guidelines and information on the Nordic Heritage Museum’s website.

Deadline for entries is July 25; winners will receive round-trip airfare from Seattle to Reykjavik, three night’s accommodations, and entry to events during the 2012 Reykjavik Fashion Week.

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