Couve Couture veteran pushes designs, herself

Ridgefield's Cathy Rae Kudla prepares to debut new fashion line at Portland showcase

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian features news coordinator


photoA classic example of the dresses designed by Cathy Rae Kudla, this dress debuted at the fall Couve Couture fashion show in 2012.


If you go

• What: FashionNXT Portland Runway Show.

• When: Arrive early for the design exhibits and pop-up fashion market that open at 6 p.m., with the runway seating starting at 8 p.m. Oct. 9-12.

• Where: Vigor Industrial Shipyard, Swan Island, 5555 N. Channel Ave. Building 10, Portland.

• Cost: $25 to $175 depending on seating and package.

• Information:

Did you know?

• Seth Aaron Henderson of Vancouver will be returning to Lifetime's "Project Runway" for the television's series third season of "Project Runway All-Stars" starting Oct. 24. Henderson with be one of the three returning season winners to compete.

High runway fashion no longer is reserved for far-away cities or television screens. And fashion designers can come straight from Clark County.

FashionNXT Portland is a four-day showcase of the city's best fashion and design talent. Held at the Vigor Industrial Shipyard on Swan Island, the runway will be filled with spring collections from a bevy of local, national and international designers.

Cathy Rae Kudla of Ridgefield will be bringing her latest collection to the Portland stage as part of the FashionNXT's emerging designers showcase.

While the ideas for a spring collection had been simmering, Kudla didn't find out until the end of August she had be accepted to the show. "I've been sewing day and night. With the type of sewing that I do, it requires a tremendous amount of work. But I prefer quality over quantity."

Kudla debuted as a fashion designer at Vancouver's Couve Couture, participating in both the fall 2012 and spring 2013 shows. She has only been a fashion designer for the past two years, graduating from the Art Institute of Portland in 2011 with a degree in fashion design. But she has more than 20 years in the fashion industry, working as an apparel representative and buyer in Seattle.

Up/NXT — the Emerging Designers Contest — will feature six designers, including Kudla, on the Thursday night runway.

"There's a lot of hype about the show, I feel like I'm caught in this whirlwind of enthusiasm," said Kudla, who shows her designs under her brand of Cathy Rae.

Much of the excitement has a "Project Runway" vibe, with two collections by former contestant Michael Costello, the premiere of Portland's Michelle Lesniak's first collection since winning last season's show, and an editorial collection by Vancouver's own superstar Seth Aaron. Pendleton Woolen Mills will also be debuting spring designs from its Portland Collection line.

"I think with any designer, the runway is treated more like a showcase of stuff you wouldn't necessarily put in your collection," Kudla said. "It's an opportunity for designers to push yourself out of your usual parameters, then pull yourself back in to try to make (the designs) sellable."

Kudla plans on sending six to seven models walking down the runway, wearing "mostly dresses."

"I love using prints," she said. "My designs are very classic, with simple and clean lines. I think the prints give each piece something unique.

"I love the idea of dressing like a woman," Kudla said, "I'm really inspired by a beauty of a woman that's really classy.

"We've gotten very casual nowadays," she said, "but people are really responding to going back to the days of dressing up, and we need to really encourage that as designers.

"It's the idea of making things that last 20 years. I want it to be an heirloom piece that can be passed on to your daughter."