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

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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 »

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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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 »

Season of Renewal: “Chez Mignon—A House of Pretty Things” shows the latest in sustainable style

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Photo: Lauren Kelly-Jones

Budding independent fashion designers may be a rare breed in Chicago, but this Friday night, above a Chinese restaurant in Logan Square, there seem to be hundreds. In the small but charming Elastic Arts Foundation, surrounded by photographs and pumpkin-orange walls, creative types come together in the name of warm weather and sustainable fashion. As a showcase of original and secondhand designs, vintage dresses and vintage materials, Chez Mignon is hoping to ring in what all of Chicago has been waiting for: spring.

The fashion show is the brainchild of Michelle Pauly of Yellow Birdd and Michelle Dimitris of Dollparts Design, bloggers who’ve collaborated to treat guests with live music, free wine and cute desserts in a relaxed and consciously stylish atmosphere. Vintage and repurposed clothing glimmers from racks at the back of the room, waiting in silence for the buying frenzy that will follow.

Dimitris smiles from the stage, surrounded by her friends, friends of friends, and volunteers. “It’s a community,” she says afterwards. “My friend, a musician, composed something for it too.”

As the audience stands pressed against walls, soft live music, played by Sewing Pattern and Deep Deep Diver—friends of the Michelles—begins and the crowd hushes. Runway models begin to lace their way through the room. Bursts of color follow bursts of color, with floppy hats, floral dresses, men’s blazers and sequined hot pants in a variety of shades. The outfits, designed locally, are like apparitions from a kind of treasure trove of fashion decades, with accessories galore. Sellers include Dethrose Vintage, Alidade, Nonnie-Johns, Caroline Borucki, Dollparts and Yellow birdd. Read the rest of this entry »

Fantasy Island: Macy’s Glamorama helps Chicago forget its recent “fashion faux pas”

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By Rhianna Jones

It has long been a great debate as to whether or not New York or Paris is the fashion capital of the world. The biannual mash-up of runway shows known as “fashion month” is comprised of globally renowned designers showcasing their infectious creations starting in New York, followed by London, down to Milan and ending in Paris. These four cities would thus be described by the chicest coterie as the hotspots for style, with others like Berlin and Sydney growing a discernable presence as well.

Chicago, on the other hand, would most likely not be one of the big mode metropolises. With the city losing some of its most notable footholds in the industry, like the closing of Michelle Obama’s favorite line Maria Pinto and the end of Melissa Gamble’s reign as “fashion czar,” Chicago’s state as a fashion-oriented city seems rather precarious these days. But then, as a little reminder that Chicagoans still do have some allure towards the more fanciful side of life, Macy’s Glamorama comes around to the Chicago Theater. Read the rest of this entry »

Fashion Show Review: Kokorokoko (June 5)

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No primly dressed editors with the latest “it” bags sitting at their Louboutin-shod feet grace this front row; here Converse and fringed messenger bags are de rigueur. They serve Pabst and not Champagne. Instead of invitation-only, this event is free and open to anybody with even the slightest interest in fashion walking along Damen Avenue, allured by the thumping beats coming from upstairs. While none of this fits the the standard for what a fashion show should be, the result is a very stylish affair.

Kokorokoko, a vintage boutique started by Sasha Hodges and Ross Kelly in March 2009, sells eighties and nineties vintage fashions. The name sprouted from the title of the jewelry line Sasha started out of art school, because she thought Coco Rococo “sounded like a cool drag queen name.” Working as a jewelry designer/stylist by day and DJ at night, she met Ross—who suggested all the Ks—and so started Kokorokoko. They wanted the boutique to evoke the music, things and happenings from their favorite years, 1979 to1993, a time that Sasha feels was “pre-irony.” In her opinion, people would buy a cotton jumpsuit covered in bicycles simply “because they liked bicycles,” rather than trying to be kitschy or nostalgic. Designers and their customers shared a certain genuine love of craziness back then, and this same candor with self-expression and passion for silliness reverberates throughout the entire Kokorokoko show. Read the rest of this entry »

Fashion Focus Chicago 2009: Le Jardin de L’Amour—Borris Powell Design Spring 2010 Collection

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Set amidst a French-inspired garden of perfectly trimmed hedges, sculpted foliage and bunches of soft, white blossoms, Borris Powell’s thirty-three-piece womenswear collection, inspired by the excitement of new love and the advent of spring, is both elegant and youthful in its Fashion Focus debut (October 24). Read the rest of this entry »

Fashion Focus Chicago 2009: Horacio Nieto Spring 2010

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Horacio Nieto’s Spring 2010 collections of menswear and womenswear draws inspiration from the past and future, creating two distinct lines that are cohesive on their own, and interestingly complementary together. An infrequent user of pattern, Nieto prefers to communicate his vision through silhouette and broad strokes of color, as exhibited during his fashion show on October 23. Read the rest of this entry »

Cake Walk: Justin White’s day in fashion Heaven

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justin_poster blogger Elizabeth Aguirre and cinematographer Bobby Rockwell filed this video report from local stylist Justin White’s “Let Them Eat Cake” fashion show at Heaven Gallery. Aguirre says that “Justin totally defied the rules of ‘classic fashion; and instead took his audience into the world of what I like to call ‘rogue chic.’ Ripped tights, bold makeup, and pastels paired with black leather were only some of the trends to watch for on Justin White’s runway.” Read the rest of this entry »

Fashion Focus Chicago: World Fashion Chicago

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World Fashion Chicago, an event designed to showcase the city’s Sister Cities program (October 2), oozed with admirable ambition. Chicago has twenty-seven official “sister cities,” including the style meccas of Paris and Milan, so why not have a show that conveys the global nature of fashion, and Chicago’s place within?

Unfortunately, the project was far too overwhelming to properly execute. Some cities were represented by Chicago designers who created looks drawing inspiration from a particular city, sometimes subtly, sometimes like costumes for a B movie. On the other hand, some Chicago designers simply represented their ethnic backgrounds by showing from their general collections. Six designers actually brought their designs from their far-flung cities, ranging from Amman, Jordan to Casablanca, Morocco. And in a few cases, models wore clothes from international designers who needed little exposure, like Escada and Dolce & Gabbana. Needless to say, the range and styles were literally all over the map.

The resulting show was a cacophonous hoot of excess without cohesion. Several cities, inexplicably, were even represented by multiple designers. Add to that the “commercial” presentation of looks designed by talented Chicago comers Agga B, Melissa Serpico, Evil Kitty and Anna Fong for Toyota’s “space-age” I-Real project, and you had a show that would defy anyone trying to actually take anything actionable (i.e., to buy the clothes or learn more about a designer) away from the runway. And we didn’t even mention that “Project Runway” contestant Steven Rosengard showed up to represent Hamburg, Germany. Eventually, we put our pens away and just enjoyed the show. (Brian Hieggelke)