I tried all day Friday to walk away from what I was doing and get to the Nordic Heritage Museum to hear the symposium speakers during the opening day of the Nordic Fashion Biennale, but the best I could do was getting there in time for the opening party.

As we walked in, the Icelandic trade commissioner was toasting the relationship between the Northwest and the North, and acknowledging the role that fashion, apparel, and art can play in healthy economies. Skoal indeed.

The first familiar face I saw was Blackbird owner Nicole Miller’s; she had served as the symposium moderator that day and reported that the day’s talks on sustainability and ethical, artful practices had exceeded her expectations.

Actually, she copped to the fact that she’s a very tough critic and isn’t easily impressed, and said the discussions had been really inspiring, motivating, and challenging.

The second familiar face was Henrik Vibskov’s. My friends and I had to check our cool level a little; our instinct was to ask him to autograph our sweaters or something. The designer’s buzz factor and art/fashion cred is off the charts. It was no small deal to have him in our city, participating in our cultural event.

And then it was on to the exhibits. And the exhibit watchers.

I’m partial to multigenerational crowds at fashion events. In my mind, there is nothing more fun than people watching when the Baby Boomers and college students are both turning it out.

Women who might have been lifelong museum members but could have also been Faroe Islanders or Finnish design experts (there were a lot of visitors in the house) were dressed in long, drapey textiles and covered with architectural jewelry. They accepted passed appetizers of salmon and lamb, prepared by the Icelandic chef who was imported for the event. Twentysomethings in self-made experiments stood next to them as we all took in politically minded soft sculptures, over-the-top knits, and hypnotic black and white fashion-minded films.

The slideshow here gives a brief preview of the exhibit, which is up at the Nordic Heritage Museum through November 13. I should note that I didn’t photograph or otherwise include my favorite parts of the show. I wanted those to be a surprise and a discovery when you go to see it all for yourself.

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