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Brynne Cortez's Counter-Couture

Wednesday, Jul 19 2000
The Bay Area, birthplace of the Gap, Banana Republic, Levi Strauss, et al. ad nauseam, is also home to a number of fledgling independent designers whose "anti-establishment" clothes need a little leg up on the competition in order to get seen and sold.

Enter "Counter-Couture," Brynne Cortez's fashion party and alternative clothing mart. DJ Polywog, a fashion force in her own right who was recently featured in Groove, will spin while a collection of multicolor, multisize models strut, and members of Ultra Gypsy belly dance. "Everyone involved are people who are trying to make a name for themselves," Cortez says. The models are students at the John Powers School of Modeling (with a few of Cortez's art scene friends mixed in for good measure), the makeup artists are trying to launch their solo careers, and of course the designers are all struggling, most having been in business for less than three years.

"It's really expensive to get a design label off the ground. The goal of the event is to bring attention to local talent and creativity. The industry is focused more on New York and L.A. But you should check out your own back yard. We've got it happening here!" says Cortez. Her own label, Space Cowgirls, achieved such success that her partner took the company to Los Angeles. Cortez stayed behind to fairy-godmother the future success of other designers. This is the fourth alternafashion event she's produced this year.

Included in the show are Paul Gallo, a teacher at the Academy of Art College who uses prints and layers in an arty, costumelike manner; Go-Go Pro, which offers dance wear by go-go dancers for go-go dancers (and anyone else brave enough); and Cosmic Debris, which produces colorful and bright Japanese pop-inspired screen-print T-shirts and hats with bear ears. There will be sporty women's separates from Creature, men's tapestry coats from Limb Factory, felt cloche hats from Jasmin Zorlu, ultra-femme purses from Malu, knitwear by Italian transplant (and also Academy teacher) Paola Trombetta, and more.

The event is co-sponsored by, a locally based portal for Bay Area clothing and accessory designers as well as record labels to hawk their wares. The fashion show begins at 8 p.m. at SomArts Gallery, 934 Brannan (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is $5; call 695-9100, ext. 2.

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Julie Feinstein


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