Lights, Camera, Fashion: Taking Note of the Art of Fashion Show

Designers, Events/Exhibitions, Fashion Focus Chicago, Fashion Shows No Comments »

Michael Alan Stein/Photo: Courtesy of (photographer: Don Marshall)

By Alexandra Delaney

Spotted on Randolph Street: sparkles, sequins and fluffy fur shawls. The glamorous getups weren’t costumes for Halloween, but fashion-fascinated Chicagoans sure got a treat as they gathered at Millennium Park’s Chase Promenade for the Art of Fashion show. The fashion show was one of many events throughout the week as part of Fashion Focus Chicago.

The dark autumn night was offset by a soft red glow peeking through the plastic walls of the white tent. The scene was sleek: soft white couches, tall white tables just the right height to hold a cocktail, and sparkling red lights. The attendees were a group as mixed in age as they were in garb—zebra print jeans to black glittery dresses to patterned denim pants—but they were all unified by their interest in fashion.

Despite the drizzle, the atmosphere under the big white tent was sizzling during the runway fashion show as ten Chicago designers showed pieces from their Spring 2013 collections.  The featured designers included Barbara Bates, Borris Powell, Eva Pazola, Lara Miller, Michael Alan Stein, Michelle Tan, Nade Baer, RÜCH (Ruchika Singh), SHALINI (Shalini Sharma) and SWABY (Shernett Swaby). Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of Shopping: Picking Among the Finds at Fashion Chicago

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By Alexandra Delaney

Throngs of moms and daughters, friends, significant others and families turned the cement pavement at Millennium Park into an urban runway as they shopped Chicago fashion designer’s collections. Fashion Chicago, presented by, rounded up local designers for a free shopping event that allowed visitors to peruse and purchase pieces from the local artists’ fall, winter and spring collections.

A table of glistening jewels served as a warm welcome. K. Amato’s sparkly, gemmed jewelry contains colorful stones set in fourteen-karat gold fill, plated eighteen-karat gold and sterling silver. Her signature is gold-filled chains. Several pieces evoke the holidays, like the gold chain bracelets laid on top of green and red bands. All of the handmade pieces have a charming feature, from delicately crafted shapes to Swarovski crystals and glass stones. Read the rest of this entry »

Fashion Focus Chicago 2012 Complete Schedule

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Here’s the press release from the city with the complete FFC schedule for this fall.

A Week Long Showcase of Chicago’s Fashion Industry
Monday, October 15 – Sunday, October 21

Fashion Focus Chicago 2012 returns for its eighth year October 15-21 for a week-long celebration of Chicago’s thriving fashion industry while showcasing some of its top designers.  Highlights include three headlining runway shows in Millennium Park and fashion events at various locations around the city.  Fashion Focus will feature a variety of free and affordable industry happenings, shopping and designer events.

The City’s fashion initiative supports and promotes independent fashion boutiques and fashion designers living and working in Chicago. The theme this year for Fashion Focus Chicago is You saw it on the runway, now buy it!  In addition to showcasing the talented fashion industry, patrons are encouraged to purchase what they like directly through designers websites and at independent boutiques not only during the event, but year round. Read the rest of this entry »

Runway Extravaganza: Chicago Fashion Fest Celebrates Style in Style

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Free to the public, the Chicago Fashion Fest seeks to introduce a young audience to fashion with a multi-platform all-day extravaganza equipped with numerous runways, dancers, food and beverage and a “shopping village” for enthusiasts to purvey.

As the fest approaches its fourth birthday, I caught up with founder Michelle Gomez.
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Sized Up: Stephanie Sack and Ten Years of Vive La Femme

-Womenswear, Bucktown, Events/Exhibitions, Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village No Comments »

“Life is hard. Shopping should not be.”

These are the wise words of the impeccably dressed Stephanie Sack, owner of two Bucktown boutiques, Vive La Femme and Violette. The former is a clothing shop for ladies sizes 12-24 and the latter a women’s shoe shop for sizes 7-11.  The stores are run by Stephanie and full-time manager Amanda Johanson who also designs a Vive La Femme clothing line. Vive La Femme is celebrating its tenth anniversary, an accomplishment for a small business in the current economic climate.

“It feels pretty amazing. And I think I’m just very stubborn,” Sack says. Read the rest of this entry »

Michigan Avenue Peep Show: Vintage Undergarments on Display

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Walking south on Michigan Avenue, past a set of tall, greenish windows that flash and reflect the chaos of the street, you may feel inexplicably like a peeping Tom. But if you turn to face the windows at 618 South Michigan, and peer past the wooden-slat blinds, you’ll realize why:  A number of mannequins in various states of undress, their bras and girdles and stockings peeking out from clothing half on and half off, make up the exhibit “Undressed: Women’s Unmentionables of the 1950s and 60s,” put on by Columbia College Chicago and the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. Most of the garments come from Columbia’s extensive fashion study collection, a teaching resource that includes more than 6,000 diverse pieces. As is evident by their display on this busy stretch of Michigan Avenue, these undergarments are no longer unmentionable.

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Fashion Focus Chicago 2011 Complete Schedule

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Here’s the press release from the city with the complete FFC schedule for this fall.



Final schedule of events for the seventh annual celebration of Chicago’s fashion industry

Fashion Focus Chicago, a week-long celebration of Chicago’s thriving fashion industry taking place Monday, October 17 through Sunday, October 23, showcases some of the city’s top designers and features runway shows in Millennium Park and at various locations around the city, plus a variety of free and affordable shopping and designer events and industry happenings. The week’s activities are coordinated and directed by the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture (COTC) in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Why Half-Naked Men Roamed Chicago Trying to Get Your Suits

Events/Exhibitions, News and Dish No Comments »

Fourteen half-naked men roamed the streets of Chicago last week trying to take your suits. Men’s Wearhouse used the day of debt-ceiling talk specifically to highlight the problem of unemployment and promote its month-long National Suit Drive by sending out models cloaked only in boxers and armed with signs asking the public to “Give the Suit Off Your Back.” “Utilizing these visual tools is a lighthearted approach to bringing attention to such a serious issue, ” says Julie Town, director of corporate giving at Men’s Wearhouse. The suits provide a key element of beating unemployment: having something to wear to interviews. Although the suit drive happens at locations all over the U.S. throughout the month of August, only select cities hosted the promotional event. Read the rest of this entry »

Top of the Shops: British retailer “pops up” as a teaser for its Michigan Avenue debut

*The Nationals, Events/Exhibitions, Gold Coast No Comments »

The British are coming, indeed! With over 300 stores in the UK and more than 100 international locations, the British women’s retail clothing giant Topshop (along with its other half for men, Topman) is moving into Chicago on Michigan Avenue in September. In honor of its impending arrival, Space519, one of the retailers in the 900 North Michigan shops, is hosting a two-month-long Topman pop-up shop inside its store.

Space519 opened the Topman pop-up store (or as they call it, shop-in-shop) at the beginning of June, and it will stay there through the end of July. “We’re launching this to get everyone excited,” says Jim Wetzel, co-owner of Space519. The store will receive new styles of Topman every week that are exclusive to the States. Right now, Wetzel says, the style is more focused and conservative, “but it gets funkier as the summer goes on.”

Just like at Space519, which sells ready-to-wear, books, furniture, apothecary and more, Topman merchandise will vary greatly at its temporary home. The first round of styles has a 1970s dandy British flair and includes vintage Timex watches, a navy suit, floral button-down shirts, camouflage jackets and ties, classic pocket squares and cardigans, and even a pair of mid-thigh-length swim trunks with a California and Hawaii surfer dude vintage postage-stamps print.

“Since the collection is so vast, we can really bring a lot in,” Wetzel says. “We have everything from swim trunks to suits.” Wetzel says he is particularly fond of the suits Topman offers, which cost only around $250. But, his personal favorite in Topman’s stock is their shoes, which he says are “especially cool.” He also says the floral button downs feel really British and fresh—a little bit dandy and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. Read the rest of this entry »

By Design: A RAW night in the city

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As much of Chicago sleeps on a Thursday night, Vertigo Sky Lounge is abuzz. High above the city, its inhabitants are paradoxically “digging the underground.” RAW Natural Born Artists, an independent country-wide arts organization that selects and provides a platform for independent creatives, is holding one of its grassroots showcases, one of seventeen such events held around the country each month to spotlight new talent.

A DJ spins in a buzzing corner of the room. Photographs, drawings and paintings cover the glass walls, and the crowd, well-dressed friends of the artists and guests from Art Chicago, appear to be suspended above the city lights. A little after 10pm, the crowd is asked to part and form a path for the upcoming fashion show. Ariya Sasaki, a University of Chicago student in the Geographical Studies department, is about to debut her Spring/ Summer Collection, which will include t-shirts that she has designed for Japan Relief—she was born in Kyoto and raised in Berkeley. “This collection is very much inspired by what is happening in Japan—thinking about global energy and being more conscious of how fabric and textiles are constructed,” she’d said over coffee earlier. “I am writing my B.A paper on fair-trade fashion.” Sasaki is also the co-founder and director of JAPAN Relief and Rebuild committee, and found her fashion feet in MODA (the UofC’s fashion organization), where she is artistic director.

It was at their annual fashion show in the Cultural Center that Sasaki’s designs were first spotted by RAW. “I was so surprised [that they chose me]. I feel like Chicago has so many art students and people who actually study fashion,” she says. “All my models are U of C students and U of C grads. I think it’s really great that I’m able to involve so many people who wouldn’t necessarily be part of the fashion world.” (Lauren Kelly-Jones)