If "heroin chic" had a theme song, it would be the gripping "Almost There" by Portland singer Madeline Mahrie, who records as Machine.
Doused in simple, yet thundering, grand piano, drums and knife-edged vocals, the less-is-more sound of not only that tune, but all of Machine's steadily growing catalogue is the perfect musical manifestation of that style fad from the mid-90s. Mahrie's dark and morosely charged songs mimic the look perpetrated by models like Kate Moss, where malnourished appearing bodies could instantly communicate feelings of longing, allure or even sadness without much ado.
Machine's music is Lady Gaga without the gimmick, accomplishing the kind of powerhouse sound that never quite fits with Tori Amos' safe and low key appearance.
With an ever changing hair color and style, and an artfully canvased body, Mahrie is—in a much updated way—herself a representation of the heroin chic look. But the emotion comes from her songs more than her appearance. Songs that, for instance, delineate struggles with a really terrible breakup, that like a machine—the inspiration for her band name—Mahrie was able to charge through, emerging on the other side a significantly stronger person.
But Mahrie doesn't just communicate her independence via stylish song; she also crafts her own fashions through her Made in China Label venture and is 100 percent self-employed.
Her dresses, though very fashion-forward, are still a titillating homage to the smoldering display of those 90's models. The designs rely on sometimes stout yet muted colors and jagged textures. They are also made from completely recycled materials carrying with them the feel of boldly grasped second chances, a take-no-prisoners approach to wardrobe choices that ooze the same kind of emotional potency as her music—music drenched in the fallout from her experiences.
"I'm a very emotional person," admits Mahrie. "I'm a Leo. I'm very fiery and intense. In all my clothes and all my music there is a lot of expression."
St. Patrick's Day Celebration
4 pm. Mon., March 17
McMenamins, 700 N.W. Bond St.