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 »

Me and My Supermodel: The tale of Behati Prinsloo

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By Rhianna Jones

Tall, stunning, happy, confident, cool: these are the words one would use to describe Behati Prinsloo at first glance. This is not, however, the image most of us would project working off of four hours of sleep the day after your best-friend’s wedding in a château in France, but so goes the life of a model. As a newly inducted Victoria’s Secret Angel, Behati is at the Victoria’s Secret Michigan Avenue store this June day, debuting the new VS Pink MLB line. She is joined by fellow Angel Candice Swanepoel, Sox player Gordon Beckham and Cubs player Randy Wells.

A host of prepubescent boys, overgrown boys, Pink-obsessed girls and Chicago sports fans impatiently wait to get a two-second snapshot with the gang. Behati wears a glittery Sox tank, whereas Candice sports a Cubs shirt and pink bat. By now, the Sox have officially shut down the Cubs 10-5 in the first game of the Crosstown Classic. And as a daylong fair-weather fan, Prinsloo is beaming with pride for her team. To most of these fans here, Behati is just another staggeringly gorgeous Victoria’s Secret model. To me, she is so much more inspiring. Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of the Romper: Romancing the summer garment of the future

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Dear Creatures chambray romper from Penelope's boutique

By Monica Westin

“Rompers are for hipsters and babies and the babies of hipsters, ” claims my friend Jenn, a marketer for Whole Foods whose husband is the front man of a Pitchfork-adored band. “I have no problem with them, but rompers simply aren’t appropriate for anyone over the age of eight,” fumes my most fashionable and liberal friend Risa, who favors menswear and a sweater knitted with a handgun pattern. It’s a sentiment shared by both fashion insiders and outsiders. The romper, a summery one-piece women’s garment combining a short-sleeved or sleeveless top with shorts, has gotten a lot of ridicule since it emerged as a trend in Brooklyn around 2006 or 2007 (depending on who you talk to) and fully mainstreamed across the country last summer. Major fashion critics have called rompers regressive, tacky, ridiculous.

But as arbiters of fashion on the ground keep wearing them, the fashion world has finally given up, given in, and bought in. Vogue recently reported on the Coachella 2010 look, highlighting the importance of the romper by including photos taken by blogger Hanneli of indie actresses and fashionistas wearing belted flowered rompers (along with exposed lingerie and camel-colored woven sandals, the other two big bicoastal summer trends). In 2009, after editors starting showing up to the magazine’s office in jumpsuits, Vogue overcame its skepticism that women would actually wear them. Senior Market Editor Meredith Melling Burke admits, “When I first saw them at the shows, I thought, ‘Oh, are we going there?’… but now I’m eating my words.” And designers, beginning with Gaultier and now Marc Jacobs and others (including it-boy Jason Wu in spring 2010), are catching on by including romper looks in their collections. Even more importantly, progressive, more mainstream women are starting to realize how functional and flattering the romper can be, even if to the mockery of their friends. Read the rest of this entry »


*New Boutiques, -Menswear, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Chicago Boutiques, Old Town 1 Comment »

New 0041405 N. Wells, (312)587-9800 [ratings]

Goods: Men’s and women’s couture clothing and shoes. Designers: Big names like Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Moschino and Richard Tyler are present, to name a few. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Statements: Trevian and B.J. Kutti bring the provocative style of G’Bani to Old Town

*New Boutiques, -Women's Shoes, -Womenswear, Old Town No Comments »

New 005By Nicole Briese

Wake up, Wells Street—Trevian has arrived. With just three little words, Chicago’s resident fashionista has made her presence known, and Old Town just may never recover: Hot. Ass. Sale.

Painted in the window of Wells Street’s newest boutique, the unapologetic advertisement is definitely turning heads. “We wanted to see how [the neighborhood] would respond to our least aggressive window display,” owner Trevian Kutti says. Opening her namesake in March, Kutti has decided the time has come to introduce Old Town residents to luxury retail—Trevian style. “[We’ve been] taking our time… gauging the [area,]” she says. “As you can see, the sign in the window is like the warmup. It’s like touching water to see if it’s too hot. Right now it’s lukewarm.”

But not for long. Not if Kutti has anything to do with it. Known for her Oak Street staple G’Bani, Kutti is no novice to the world of retail—or the controversial “statement window.” “We do windows that show we are human beings before we are a business,” Kutti said in a New York Times piece that featured her button-pushing displays in January 2006.

Currently in the process of relocating G’Bani to Old Town, Kutti and husband B.J. have already begun implementing their plans to dominate the block with their latest venture. “We wanted to make Trevian completely upscale, so now we do Moschino, Richard Tyler [and] Chloe…to bring a destination luxury boutique to Wells Street,” she says. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hot List

News and Dish No Comments »

The verdict is in—Alexander Wang has won the Vogue CFDA Fashion Fund for 2008. The lucky man and his eponymous label will receive $200, 000 and a year’s worth of mentoring. The two runners up who will each receive $50, 000 and business mentoring (not too shabby) are Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhal of the coveted Vena Cava, and the gifted milliner, Albertus Swanepoel.

On the fast track to fame, at only 24 Wang has quickly become the darling of the fashion world, but plenty of hard work has gone into his seemingly gilded success. Leaving his native San Francisco At age 18 Wang left his native San Francisco and moved to New York to try his hand at fashion. The Parsons wunderkind, who interned with the likes of Marc Jacobs and Derek Lam, began his line during his sophomore year in 2006. He showed the line to an editor at Teen Vogue, whose accolades gave Wang the courage to quit school and work on his line full time.

Wang’s long lean silhouettes have been much publicized in part thanks to his collaboration with model-cum-stylist, Erin Wasson (who has since left Wang to start her own line). Wasson brought an edginess, not to mention lots of attention to the line. Wang is a huge proponent of layering and fragile fabrics primarily in dark hues and neutrals. The effect highlights delicacy and femininity while also hinting at an inner ‘downtown’ bad girl. Good and bad girls alike clearly identify with Wang’s urban aesthetic, and have catapulted him into the spotlight. Monday evening’s prestigious award sealed his stunning trajectory as a fashion golden-boy. (Kari Skaflen)

Alexander Wang is carried in Chicago at Blake, hejfina and Jake

Viva La Glam

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The past is present in this year’s fall collections, with designers tapping every decade from the thirties to the nineties for inspiration. But it’s the decade that gave us tight-rolled jeans, shoulder pads and loud geometric prints that provides the aesthetic for this year’s Glamorama, and with an A-list runway roster and a post-show, back-to-the-eighties shindig, the event is shaping up to be as memorable as a pair of Hammer pants.

“Eighties has always been on the table [as a possible theme],” says Jennifer Wilkins, producer of Glamorama. But when choosing the theme nearly a year in advance, the Glamorama team could hardly know just how applicable the eighties would be this season. “We just happen to…hit the nail on the head. Not only are we having a great retro theme, but we’re seeing a lot of eighties inspiration in fashion for this season.”

Now in its tenth year, Glamorama is Macy’s annual style extravaganza, with proceeds benefiting the Art Institute of Chicago. Since its inception the event has raised nearly $2.3 million for the museum and its programs. The event is entirely Midwest-focused, with shows in only Minneapolis and Chicago, and features a runway show, a party and a post-party, where the entire seventh floor of Macy’s is transformed into a theme-related wonderland. This year guests can expect a trip back in time.
“In the show, the eighties theme is a little more tongue-in-cheek. You’ll see some of the references with the special effects and entertainment, and with the styling of the designers. But the party is completely full-out eighties, with everything from eighties music, to great lounge areas featuring Pac-Man, Rubix Cube and Donkey Kong. Our visual and production teams transform the entire seventh floor. There’s no other retailer that throws a party like this,” Wilkins says.

Designers featured this year include Marc Jacobs, Ports 1961, Tibi, Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan Collection. Each designer was chosen specifically by the Glamorama producers based on the relevance of their fall collections to the theme at hand. Along with the runway show, guests will be treated to performances from eighties icons Cyndi Lauper and MC Hammer, who will walk the red carpet outside the Chicago Theatre with other eighties celebrities (and a few modern day stars, too).

Knowing that no two fashion-lovers have the same needs, Glamorama offers a versatile array of ticket options and prices. Show-only tickets begin at $75, and go up to $195 with the after-party addition. Prices increase up to $1,000 for the ultimate VIP ticket. (Molly Each)

Glamorama takes place on August 22 at 8pm at the Chicago Theatre, 175 North State. Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster. Call (312)781-5454 for more information.

A Posh Preview: Nordstrom shows its fall colors

*The Nationals, Events/Exhibitions No Comments »

On an average evening, as dusk settles in across the city, the Chicago History Museum closes its doors to field-trip groups, history buffs and curious tourists, and lies dormant for the night before welcoming them all back again in the morning. But on a recent Tuesday night the museum was the most bustling place in Lincoln Park, brightly lit and swarming with valets as rows of well-dressed folk made their way into the building. On this night, the museum was filled with Louboutains, mini dresses and champagne flutes, as industry members, Nordstrom regulars, press, socialites and fashion-philes gathered together to gear up for cool weather at the Nordstrom Designer Preview fashion show.

The annual event marks the first opportunity to view the new fall collections, which hit the floor at Nordstrom the very next day. Upon arrival, guests sipped cocktails and Veuve, dug into a sushi-filled buffet dinner and chatted excitedly before being whisked into an adjoining tent for the big presentation. The show, divided into eleven different “scenes,” featured collections from a variety of fashion’s heavy hitters: Burberry Prorsum, Peter Som, Nina Ricci, Missoni, Andrew Gn, Marc Jacobs, Tuleh, Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, Marni and Oscar de la Renta. Strutting out to thumping music amidst lightly colored lighting, the models (donning million-inch high heels from designers like Prada, Lanvin and Jimmy Choo) showed the crowd exactly what’s hot for this fall. Mod silhouettes, 1950s-inspired looks, a dose of sparkle, sleekly tailored coats and garments with plenty of movement dominated the runway. Nearly all the designers showed many neutral colored pieces (brown, grey and camel were popular colors), throwing in one powerfully colored piece—a plum sweater, a red pencil skirt, an iris halter gown—which often seemed to explode off the runway. Purple in all its shades—amethyst, iris, plum—was seen in many collections, and blue, rose and soft pinks also made appearances. A few of the showstoppers: Missoni’s teal cashmere belted minidress, Andrew Gn’s black-and-white tweed coat, Marc Jacobs’ utterly mod sky-blue jersey dress with beaded cuffs and a pebble-lurex-silk-chiffon one-shoulder dress from Stella McCartney. But arguably the take-your-breath-away piece of the night came from Oscar de la Renta’s grand finale. To the tune of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” there emerged a brightly colored, small flower-patterned silk zibeline strapless gown with a flamenco hem. It stood out not only for the bright colors and unique silhouette, but because there wasn’t anything else in the show that even looked remotely like it.

Post-show, the crowd returned to the museum, where mini designer boutiques (and several fitting rooms) had been set up, and guests eagerly scooped up many of the items they’d just seen making a pass on the catwalk. But aside from alerting Chicagoans to the new fall trends and stocking the closets of our city’s fashion fans, the Nordstrom Designer Preview annually serves a greater purpose: to fund the Costume Council of the Chicago Historical Society and their educational and research programs. (Molly Each)

Designer Spotlight: Amber Beach

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Line: Amberlynn Designs
Background: After a stint in the business world, Beach left to pursue her lifelong dreams of being a fashion designer. She graduated from Columbia College’s fashion-design program in May 2007.
The Pieces: Heavy on bright, bold colors and super-feminine cuts, the sassy designs combine an element of West Coast energy with a bit of southern flair. Beach describes them as “a punch of personality.”
Designer inspirations: Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, Zac Posen, Nanette Lepore
Chicago Inspirations: “The people. I love the diversity that’s here; the progressive, forward thinking. You’re surrounded by artistic, passionate people, and the city is so alive with so much energy and opportunities that it fascinates me. ”
On being a designer in Chicago: “There are lots of opportunities and organizations right now, and there’s a big sense of community; a support system.”
What to look for: A summer trunk show and the launch of the Amberlynn Designs online store.
Where to find Amberlynn Designs: Wolfbait and B Girls,

Designer Spotlight: Melissa Serpico

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Line: Serpico
Background: Studied graphic design at Loyola University and while in her first job, found it wasn’t for her. Went to the School of the Art Institute for fashion design, graduated in May 2006 and unveiled her first collection just over a year later.
The Pieces: Classic designs that feature unique patterns, details and draping, high-quality fabrics and lots of experimentation with embellishments. “I like to use techniques that would have been made the same 100 years ago.”
Designer inspirations: John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld.
On being a designer in Chicago: “The press here is very generous. You meet people who are excited about your work and want to help.”
Chicago inspirations: Chicago architecture and the Art Institute, both the school and the museum. The different seasons, too. “In the dead of winter, you want to wear interesting clothing. It’s inspiring to keep winter clothing interesting.”
What to look for: A new Serpico studio/storefront opening up this June at 1514 N. Ashland, with room for both creating and hosting sales and events.
Where to find Serpico: Lissa on Maxwell, Michelle Tan, Totem (Hinsdale), M. Santana (Forest Park).,