May 10, 2000: Headlines: COS - Guatemala: Small Business: Clothing: Willamette Week: Guatemala RPCV Lena Medoyeff is rsing star in Clothing

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: The Peace Corps in Guatemala: May 10, 2000: Headlines: COS - Guatemala: Small Business: Clothing: Willamette Week: Guatemala RPCV Lena Medoyeff is rsing star in Clothing

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, April 23, 2005 - 9:50 pm: Edit Post

Guatemala RPCV Lena Medoyeff is rising star in Clothing

Guatemala RPCV Lena Medoyeff is rising star in Clothing

Guatemala RPCV Lena Medoyeff is rising star in Clothing

Hawthorne's Rising Star:The Talented Ms. Medoyeff

243-2122 EXT. 325

Photos by Basil Childers

Lena Medoyeff Studio
3200B SE Hawthorne Blvd.,
Open noon-6 pm

Searching endlessly one recent Saturday afternoon for a parking spot in front of the red-hot Red Light Clothing Exchange, I was ready to swear off Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard as a favorite shopping destination for good.

The crazed car and foot traffic, the proliferation of hippie shops and overpriced housewares stores was bringing me way down. Then, like a dream, my spirits lifted when I happened upon the stunning studio of Lena Medoyeff. Located a few blocks west of Hawthorne's bustling stretch, this local apparel designer's five-month-old, simply laid-out store houses some of the most gorgeous garments I've ever seen in Portland. And blessedly, there's an absence of hemp shirts, tie-dyes or vintage garb and not a whiff of patchouli in the air.

Instead, in Ms. Medoyeff's combination retail/work space, a few simple, no-nonsense racks hold handmade women's dresses, pants, jackets, skirts and stretch T-shirts in a range of rich colors and fabrics you won't find anywhere else in town.

For jaded shoppers (who need more convincing to visit this pleasant addition to the Southeast neighborhood), here's a little background on the talented Ms. Medoyeff.

Ten Things Every Shopper Should Know About Lena Medoyeff:

1. The Portland native first attempted sewing as a poor journalist (she was a reporter for The Western News in Libby, Mont.) fresh out of college at University of Oregon. She had to sew--she had fashion tastes way beyond her budget.

2. Moving away from journalism, Medoyeff perfected her sewing skills during a Peace Corps stint in Guatemala. A neighbor in her village had worked in a garment factory in Bogotá and taught her to make patterns and clothing for the village children. Following her lessons, Medoyeff bought a treadle machine, hauled it back to her Guatemalan residence on top of an old school bus and began to make simple dresses. When she got back to the States, she started her own clothing company.

3. Though she did all the sewing for her very first orders, Medoyeff now has most of her designs cut and sewn by a local seamstress (with impressive Russian and New York design house experience) and the seamstress' team of five sewers. Another local sewer does all of the stretch pieces.

4. Medoyeff's designs are incredible: from basic rayon and Lycra T-shirts in myriad colors to luxurious velvet jackets to lightweight skirts and alternative formal wear that promises to be worn more than once--whether you're 18 or 45.

5. The fabrics she uses are exquisite, most made by a family-owned mill outside of Calcutta. It takes four people two weeks to make 12 yards--the length of a sari--of the heavy, mirrored fabrics Medoyeff crafts into gorgeous skirts and dresses. Only a select number of U.S. designers have access to the highly coveted fabric.

6. The designer's pieces are refreshingly simple; much of her line is composed of four classic patterns she changes slightly for each season. The idea is that the garments will act as silhouettes, shifting the focus to the amazing fabrics themselves. All the pieces are extremely comfortable, you can wear them more than once and they're made from nice fabric. (Most pieces are in the reasonably inexpensive $100-$200 range, with T-shirts and other separates costing a bit less.)

7. This resourceful entrepreneur took over the lease of a former alterations shop last winter and converted it into a welcoming, hip space, tearing up old carpet and tile and staining the weathered cement floors a warm rust color. Giant, gilt-framed mirrors rest against the walls, and velvet curtains separate the retail and work spaces. It feels like a Melrose or SoHo studio--sans snobbery.

8. Medoyeff has a slew of wholesale accounts, but the unpretentious designer enjoys the interaction and generous feedback she gets from individual customers.

9. A former tomboy, she wasn't interested in clothes at all as a kid. She was into rodeo-riding and showing horses. She preferred Wranglers to the frilly dresses her mom sometimes made her wear.

10. Her dog rules. Maggie, a lab and Chesapeake Bay retriever, hangs out in the studio, entertaining shoppers' typically listless accompanists (read: men) and charming the pants off of just about everyone.

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Willamette Week | originally published May 10, 2000

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Story Source: Willamette Week

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guatemala; Small Business; Clothing



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