It’s a week after opening, and Cerato owner Tracey Glibowski is reordering Kristin Hassan’s drapey asymmetrical “Flow” tanks; a lone Jlee Silver maxidress—equal parts Hamptons and Mt. Olympus—hangs in the corner, the last in-stock representative of its kind. In other words, it’s been a pretty good first week at the new Southport women’s clothing boutique, which is dedicated to showcasing primarily local designers.
The store is clearly a labor of love for Glibowski, a former advertising exec whose recent layoff inspired her to turn her passion for fashion into a career. Surveying the store, a spartan-but-not-sterile space with exposed brick and country-chic blue wallpaper, she seems a little bit amazed at how well things have turned out. After all, Glibowski started with a concept but no insider knowledge of the Chicago fashion scene—she says she discovered many of the designers she features by trolling the internet. So far, though, she seems thrilled with the results.
“It’s a partnership,” she says of her designers. “I hope they’re in it for the long haul.” Which doesn’t mean she’s stopped combing the city for new talent—in time, she’s definitely looking to add new names to her roster, which currently includes Kate Boggiano, Eskell, Anna Fong, frei designs, jules, Avery Layne, Horacio Nieto, and Shorty Clothing, along with Hassan, Silver and a handful of out-of-town imports. Read the rest of this entry »
Designers: Elizabeth Del Castillo and Kelly Whitesell
Background: Kelly Whitesell and Elizabeth Del Castillo both attended the University of Indiana’s Apparel Merchandising program. In addition, Whitesell studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
Design Aesthetic: Eskell’s signature look focuses on vintage with a contemporary twist. “Kelly has more of an edgier look and I’m more feminine so we mix modern with vintage, ” says Del Castillo.
Designer Inspirations: Alexander Wang’s edgy and modern designs and Narciso Rodriguez’s classic and feminine aesthetic.
Chicago Inspirations: One of their biggest sources of inspiration is their customer. “I always keep in mind the functionality of clothing,” Del Castillo says. “People in Chicago dress appropriately to the weather and are more casual in that way.” Read the rest of this entry »
The design duo behind Eskell, Elizabeth Del Castillo and Kelly Whitesell, were a great choice to close the show, with their vintage-inspired fashions and strong sense of vision. They’re masters of taking unconventional approaches, like a zipper-front dress, and making it look anything-but-contrived. I’m not sure I’m in love with the high-waisted shorts—a little too Olivia Newton-John-gets-Physical for me. Like Frei Designs, Eskell’s strong flavor is not for every taste. But there’s a definite opinion here, and you can agree or disagree. Oh, and I did mention the colors peach and beige?
NOTE: As of January 2012, all updates to this listing are here.
1509 N. Milwaukee, (773)486-0830, eskell.com
Goods: Women’s clothing and accessories. Designers: Handmade tops, dresses and skirts by Eskell, Iro, Preloved, Seneca Rising, jewelry from In God We Trust, as well as a selection of affordable vintage attire. Owners: Best friends since high school, Elizabeth Del Castillo and Kelly Whitesell co-design Eskell’s eponymous line from a studio in back of the shop. Vibe: A smallish space with large quantities of cheer, from the staff to the clothes. Price Range: Moderate-Expensive. The Look: Vintage-inspired, creative and just plain pretty. A DIY vixen with fashion-forward taste. This romantic girl loves to infuse her wardrobe with a touch of fairy tale (think wispy fabrics, poetic ruffles and pretty prints). Shopper’s Perks: Designers Kelly and Elizabeth are on hand to dole out expert fashion advice and the store offers truly hard-to-find pieces. Plus, the combination of vintage and new pieces means you can craft an entirely one-of-a-kind ensemble.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2009
Outside Fulton Market warehouse-studio Brickermade, spiny high heels totter along the gray, crumbled sidewalk strips. Girlish chatter bounces off the ordinarily spare, industrial soundscape. It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon with illusions of spring and the renegade sample sale dubbed “Savvy Shopper Approved” has ushered in a throng of shiny-haired, shrewd shoppers—thanks to price cuts on local and national threads. Balloons affixed to a small sign outside and notebook paper tacked on the studio door with hand-scrawled, red frenetic font (“SAMPLE SALE!”) lend to the air of excitement.
As I enter, I’m hit with the peaceful buzz of collective concentration and the delicate sound of hangers sliding leisurely along metal rails. While the sample sale concept is at the crux of coastal high-end fashion, Chicago doesn’t get much of the action; unfortunate, as these dramatically discounted showcases of extraneous merchandise (often including overstock and canceled store orders) are a godsend for the glamorous pragmatist. Luckily, organizer Janice Moskoff, owner of Beta Boutique, has big plans. “By fall next year, we’re thinking once a month,” she says. “We love the West Loop, but it depends on the space that’s available.”
Her enthusiasm is infectious: designer Lara Miller, a quiet forerunner of eco-friendly design since 2002, is on-hand at the sale, demonstrating the versatility of her organic dyed linens. As a handful of slinky women stand spellbound, Miller whips a sweater over her head for a mod, hooded look and then transforms it into a deep-cowl-neck top. “It’s more about a person’s body,” instructs Miller, as a creamy, key-hole-neck dress (priced down to $130 from $220) magically morphs into a low-backed turtleneck. A woman ogling Eskell’s silken blouses finally settles on a powdery gray one, speckled with tiny earth-toned birds (in the $100s from $373), while another seems relieved to find a gold-threaded dress from New York designer Maya for under a Franklin. Yes, options are limited, the sizes small (most run between three-to-five) and the prices still, well, pricey. But for some good, clean fun and reckless discounts, Savvy Shopper Approved is on point. (Libby Ramer)
Check savvyshopperapproved.com for information on upcoming sample sales.