Saturday, Feb. 28

What were they called before they became known as bohemians? All those visual artists, performers, writers and musicians of modest means that are always shaking the roots of established paradigms? In every generation and every place, they establish thriving, underground communities, exchanging ideas and inspiration.

On Saturday night, Bohemia: An Artisans Emporium was host to more than 100 of Tucson's bohemians and their admirers. Experimental music-carnival purveyors Flagrante Delicto swapped sets with models showing off the artistry of Tucson fashion designers, under a screen showing live-action, overhead-projector graffiti by Mel Dominguez.

According to Bohemia proprietor Tana Kelch, the economy inspired the theme for the show, "Surging the Mend."

"We were thinking about the Depression--the need to pull together, mend the community and be resourceful," she says, "and about what people did for entertainment back then." The result was part-vaudeville, part-couture runway parody, and all over-the-top creativity--with a lot of wearable art.

Models in all shapes and sizes vamped, danced and teased their way through the crowd. Many were pre-accessorized with tattoos that accented their outfits as much as the fanciful necklaces and bracelets--often using unexpected materials--made by Tucson artists. Dada Contemporary's hair stylings, mounded, airy and loaded with extensions, perfectly balanced the gorgeous spectacle of Preen's vaudeville-influenced designs, with their radically deconstructed hemlines, poufs, bustles and multiple textures. Preen co-owners Erin Bradley and musician Emilie Marchand helped organize the event and were among their collection's models.

Like Preen's, the outfits from Wandering Star (designed by Keli Carpenter of the Tryst), Siobhan (designed by Elizabeth Albert of Skrappy's) and Chintzy Couture (designed by Amanda Frame-Wawro, wife of the Deludes singer Larry Wawro) featured recycled fabrics in lighthearted combinations of stripes and florals, knits and tulles. The show ended with a series of indie couture "formals."

Flagrante Delicto's sets were inspired features of the event. Like the evening's fashions, their music deconstructs and recombines influences, from jazz and rock to comic opera. Both dark and whimsical, their experimental sound pushes boundaries and flouts conventions.

Linda Ray Flagrante Delicto