Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dress Code - Fashion Focus Chicago - 2010

 Thursday, October 21, 2010:
Chicago's Fashion Focus events were in full swing by Thursday and I had the chance to join some of Chicago's finest at the Dress Code runway show in Millennium Park.  I arrived with Paige Ann Peterson and Kiran Advani showed us to our seats in the press section.  Dress Code is one of my favorite shows during Chicago's fashion week, as I get to have a look at the design work from the four top local art colleges to see who is up-and-coming on Chicago's fashion radar.  This year, the theme of Dress Code was "Off the Grid", and the students were to design "sustainable, repurposed clothing that blends fashion and the environment."  The four schools represented were The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago and The International Academy of Design and Technology.  The entire show was produced by none other than Chicago fashion icon (and my dear friend), Nena Ivon, and I was honored and excited to get a look at each collection.

The show began right on time and I put my camera to use almost immediately to catch some images of the designs for you.  I was able to capture most of the looks by each designer and was impressed with the creativity and talent seen on the runway.  Below is a look at the collections produced by each designer - but this time, I want to know what YOU think of the designs.  Comment below and tell me who is your favorite and what college deserves the top prize for overall fantasticness!

*click on the photos to enlarge*
Katie King:
Seth Meyerink-Griffin:
Talia Elinoff:
Adrienne Guariglia:
Luis Rodriguez:
Christina Yi:
Elizabeth Weidner:
Dana Farella:
Sara Perez:
Maureen Sullivan:
Claudia Macias:
Amanda-Michelle Olson:
Suzanne Anderson:
Audra E. Kaske:
 Michael Schellenbach:
Toni Pescatore:
Van Dang:
Ashley Huston:
Hakeem Gayden:
 Alexandre Chandoa:

So - what do you think?!
Who deserves the top prize for the most impressive garments?

Congratulations to all of the designers who worked so hard to create a collection for the Dress Code show.  I hope to get to know each of you as pave your way in the Chicago fashion industry - and beyond.  Great work, Chicago!



Monday, October 25, 2010

Borris Powell Runway Show - Spring/Summer 2011 - "Life of Two Fairies"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010:
The wind was whipping through the Chicago streets as Paige Ann Peterson and I reached the doors of the Drake Hotel for the Borris Powell S/S 2010 Runway Show.  We were a bit early, so we sat in the beautiful lobby and caught up for a bit.  Once it was time, we ascended the stairway to the Palmer Room to get a first look at the space.  We ran into Borris, who was trying to figure out last minute seating details (mine, to be exact.)  We said hello, wished him well and grabbed a drink at the bar.  The guests started to arrive and I said hello to the beautiful G&J Model and my friend, Jenner Evans (Obsessed with your glasses, by the way, Jenner!) - and was able to chat for a moment with the fabulous Abby Zupancic (Zzazz Productions), as well as Richard Gamble (Publisher - Chicago Magazine) and Melissa Gamble (Columbia College Chicago). 
Once the show was to be begin, I took my seat, grabbed my pen and waited in excitement.  The music began shortly thereafter as forest scenes with rivers and trees played on the back screen.  The first model appeared, 'fairy ears' and all, and the show was off to it's start.  Borris' theme, "Life of Two Fairies", was inspired by obsession with romance and was displayed through his collection in subtle details, as well as with his choice of models.  Simply put - according to, "The playful and romantic collection is inspired by a legend of two fairies falling in love despite coming from different backgrounds. The runway show [brought] the inspiration of the collection to life and [told] a tale of innocent love entangled by good and evil."
Borris Powell speaks before the show:
Borris designed a collection filled with details of fantasy - which could be seen in his patterns (leaves, vine-like prints, etc.) and his cuts (one mini trench, in particular, looked as if he had plucked it off of Tinkerbell.)  His color choices were also used to drive home his theme - featuring moss greens, deep purples, warm lemon tones and fiery red.  The fountain in the Palmer Room hinted at the sounds of a river running through and the gorgeous flowers that stretched their arms out over the fountain added a burst of life to his show.  He presented an array of looks - from trench coats, to fitted dresses, to voluminous cocktail looks - all the way to his final gown, complete with a train.  Borris has had the opportunity to present his collections in New York and London Fashion Week this year and I was honored to sit front row at the showing of his S/S 2010 collection, here in the finest city I know.

My best to you, BjP!


Have a look at some of the Borris Powell S/S 2010 Collection:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Private Screening of Kanye West's "Runaway" at the Icon Theater

Tuesday, October 19, 2010:
It was finally time for the last of three events of the night...  But, wait - there's a story:  Earlier in the week at the W Hotel event, one of my friends stopped me to whisper in my ear on the way out.  She asked what I was doing Tuesday and I told her that I had been booked all evening.  She then whispered that I should make myself available later in the night for a really stellar event.  She said that Kanye West was screening his new film, "Runaway" and that I would get an invitation shortly.  It all seemed to secretive and I had trouble believing it - until I got an email from Marc Moran (@superfun) at 11:00p.m. that same night that simply read: 
a film by Kanye West

1011 South Delano Court East

Tuesday, October 19th

10 pm cocktail - 11 pm screening

question and answer following
No recording devices, phones or cameras will be allowed inside the theater


In the interest of space we cannot allow any guests with your invitation.
At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to extend my 12 hour day for a few more hours.  From what I had seen about Kanye in the past, I wasn't even sure if I had any interest in it.  After thinking it over, I figured - you only live once.  It would be an experience, if nothing else...

As Todd and I jumped a cab from the Ritz, we talked about what it may be about - as we had no clue what we were walking into.  We arrived at the Icon Theater on Roosevelt shortly before 10:00p.m. and were let into the corridor area to be checked in.  After some time and a few minutes catching up with Marcus Riley (NBC Chicago) and Nicole Townsend (City's Best), we were let up the stairs to check our phones, as they were not allowed into the theater.  Once our phones were checked, we stood in line to be checked out by a police officer with a security wand.  (It was quite the operation.)  We finally got let up for a couple cocktails and shortly after, we were let into the theater (after more security wand-ing).

We sat patiently and waited for something - as we had no idea what we were going to see.  I had a chance to catch up with one of my Agency Galatea models, Megan Lewis, and before we knew it - Kanye West was standing 6 feet in front of us.  It was a bit surreal to see an individual that you know only through TV and radio standing right in front of you.  He was incredibly modest and spoke about his journey and the growth that he had done in this past year.  He talked of his dreams and how the film that we were about to see was just that - a dream of his.  He commented on the negativity and powerful manipulation of the media and his desire for us all to break away from listening to everything we hear or see or read.  Most importantly, he spoke to us as an individual, like any of us.  He connected to each of us, and for a moment he wasn't the successful, world famous Kanye West - he was just another human being with a point of view.

The film began after Kanye expressed his passion for the project and how it all came to be - and it was breathtaking.  I can't exactly put my finger on one aspect of the film that made it so amazing - or the experience.  I'm not sure if it was the words he had just said, the power of his music playing throughout, or knowing that I was one of about three hundred people in Chicago to be seeing the film - but it inspired me in so many ways.  After the screening, he spoke to us again, choking back tears as he talked about his younger days in Chicago and of the path that lies ahead for him.  He was respectful and funny and human - and I found myself dropping everything I "knew" about him at that very moment.  He perfectly ended his impromptu speech with two sentences that truly spoke to the blogger in me who strives to expose Chicago fashion and the people and the talent to the rest of the world.  He said quite simply, "Being from Chicago, there is so much we can do... Because they don't see us coming."  

And he's absolutely right.

I left the theater that night filled with energy and inspired by the experience I had just been given. People may doubt us as a city, or doubt you as a person - but there is no limit to what you can achieve.  It's up to no one but yourself to create the life you want - and you can do it.  I promise you.

My wish to everyone out there who thinks no one is listening and no one is watching and that 'it' - whatever your 'it' may be - will never happen:

Keep pushing.
Keep creating.

'They' will take notice.


Please take a few minutes and watch
Kayne West's "Runaway" for yourself:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

DecadesTwo.1 Pop-Up Shop at The Ritz Carlton - Opening Night

Tuesday, October 19, 2010:
Tuesday was quite a busy evening for events...  Once the last look sauntered down the runway at Millennium Park (CFI Past & Present Designers Show) - Todd, Marie and I quietly made our way to Randolph Street to catch a cab and head to the next event.  We arrived a few minutes later at the doors of the beautiful Ritz Carlton, got out of our cab and got checked in to head up to the DecadesTwo.1 Pop-Up Shop.  Before we hit the elevators, Barbara Glass (who had just come down) greeted us in the lobby and raved about the clothing we were about to see.  She looked amazing, as always, and I was so happy to be able to have a quiet moment to say hello to her.  Once in the elevator, we couldn't resist taking a photo in the glass as we made our way up:
Todd Starr Smith, Marie P. Anderson & Ryan M. Beshel
Once we reached our floor, we exited the elevator and made our way into a beautiful suite - dripping with racks of Dior, Chanel and many other fine designer goods as stunning as the room we were standing in.  We had a chance to speak with Jesse Garza, co-writer (with Joe Lupo - also in attendance) of 'Work It' - a book that has gives women advice on what to wear to work.  In the book, "Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo, stylists to the stars, reveal their tried and true secrets to looking professional and chic. With questionnaires, hundreds of photos, color swatches, and before-and-after shots, they make it easy for any woman to determine her specific 'worksonality.' Then they tackle the tricky questions: How much skin is too much skin? Is what I'm wearing to work preventing me from getting the position that I want and deserve? Are shorts ever acceptable in the office? (Spoiler alert: they're not.)"  The authors signed copies of their book and talked with the exclusive attendees about the lessons inside.
Jesse and Joe - along with two of my favorite women, Lynn McMahan and Amanda Puck - welcomed DecadesTwo.1 and HauteLook as they stopped in Chicago for their recent consignment pop-up shop tour.  All of the beautiful clothing was offered at greatly reduced prices and the suite was buzzing with women trying on furs and trying out handbags while the gentlemen relaxed and sipped wine.  I got my hands on a glass and tried my best to keep my excitement to a minimum.  (What?  You'd be excited to see 30 Chanel blazers, too.)  Once we said hello to everyone and had a good look, it was time to shuffle on to the next event.  Like I said - it was quite a busy Tuesday...


 The boss and I...  :)
 The stunning suite...

CS Magazine & Macy's Present: The Chicago Fashion Incubator Designers Show - Past & Present

Tuesday, October 19, 2010:
After a few hours of sleep and a full day of work it was officially time to start the Fashion Focus festivities!  I tightened the bowtie, met my roommate Todd Starr Smith and my Boss Marie P. Anderson and we hopped a cab to Millennium Park.  Once we arrived, Kiran Advani saved us from the daunting line and showed us to our seats.  There we were - sitting in the press section, ready to have a look at the Chicago Fashion Incubator:  Past and Present Show.  This, the first of the runway shows at Millennium Park, was presented by CS Magazine and Macy's and featured looks from the 2008-2010 past CFI designers:  Anna Hovet, Jess Audey, Nora del Busto, Agga B. Raya, Lidia Wachowska, Kate Coxworth and Kristin Hassan - followed by collections from the current designers-in-residence at the CFI:  Leah Fagan, Christina Fan, Stephanie Kuhr, Donaldo Smith, Miriam Cecilia Carlson and Jonnie Rettele.

The show began with collections from past designers (followed by the current collections) and we saw 103 looks glide down the runway.  I was able to scribble some thoughts for each of the collections and below is my take on what I saw from each.  Special thanks to Dean Paul for his fantastic photography.  Here we go!
Past CFI Designers:
Kristin Hassan - Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago alumni and former contestant on The Fashion Show - sent out a collection of playful dresses with a flirty feel to each.  Her embellishments, such as handmade headpieces, exposed zippers and over-the-top broaches adorned her looks.  Volume and polka dots were key to her collection.

Kate Boggiano (Kate Coxworth):
Kate Coxworth of Kate Boggiano played with tailored pieces that whispered of sweetness.  Her fringe details and over-sized collars offered a hint of personality and fun to these somewhat business-like looks.  She focused on deep necklines and simple details to add a softer sex appeal to her collection.

Evil Kitty (Lidia Wachowska):
Lidia Wachowska of Evil Kitty gave us a pretty collection that screamed of a rocker chick.  This conflicting idea worked for this collection adorned with spikes, lace and safety pins.  Her silk cocktail dresses and striped details gave a tough feel to your ordinary dress.

Agga B. (Agga B. Raya):
Agga B. Raya of Agga B. is quickly becoming one of my favorites from this year with her stacked fabric dresses and powerful silhouettes.  Any high-powered business woman would die to wear her fur adorned looks and origami cut dresses.  Here is a designer with a strong point of view and the talent to make waves in the industry.

Anna Hovet constructed a series of tunics, tops and rompers in soft pastels - with touches of black for contrast.  Her 'geek chic' theme was represented with big eye glasses and fingerless gloves that climbed up the models' arms.  Her soft silhouettes and futuristic sportswear looked comfortable and easy to wear.

Nora del Busto showed the crowd a collection of detailed dresses full of interest.  Her cut-outs, exposed zippers  and weaved fabrics gave the garments an extra level of designer touches.  She added splashes of fuchsia and busy patterns to make her looks stand out.

Audey (Jess Audey):
Jess Audey of Audey designed an earthy, pretty collection of dresses and skirts with volume, color and pattern.  Her collection was sweet and modest with a country girl feel to it.  The models couldn't help but smile as they walked down the runway wearing her dresses - in cowboy boots, no less.

Current CFI Designers-in-Residence:
C/FAN (Christina Fan):
Christina Fan of C/FAN - who is known for her solid-colored basics that easily transform from day to night - has gone a bit tropical (and I love it.)  Her collection this time around featured beautiful sunsets and beach scenes on chiffon - breaking away from the C/FAN norm, while still keeping the essence of the flowing, easy-to-wear looks that Christina is known for.

Killian Gui (Donaldo Smith):
Donaldo Smith of Killian Gui - one of two menswear designers-in-residence - sent out a collection of woven shirts full of extra details.  Pearl buttons, raglan sleeves and pinstripes adorned his collection of well-made shirts.  He played with color-blocking and Gingham check to add variety and a smart feel to his collection.

Alidade (Leah Fagan):
 Leah Fagan of Alidade constructed an array of blouses, pants and cardigans that are easy to wear and comfortable.  Her classic looks and asymmetrical cuts added ease to her collection and her cool color palette offered a fresh breath of air to her line.

Dottie's Delights (Stephanie Kuhr):
Stephanie Kuhr of Dottie's Delights always has vintage on her mind.  This was clear in her sexy collection of bras, girdles and garters that made the audience take notice.  She added pops of red and spiral details on bras to attract attention to all the right places.

Nonnie Threads (Jonnie Rettele): 
Jonnie Rettele of Nonnie Threads has an eye for menswear (and for what I personally like).  Her collection featured interesting cuts and layered looks that left me wanting more.  The fitted wovens, slim-fit pants and collared vests added interest and depth to her stellar collection.  One of my faves.

Miriam Cecilia (Miriam Cecilia Carlson):
Miriam Cecilia Carlson of Miriam Cecilia was the closing collection of the show - and she did so with a 'bang'.  Her short dresses and long gowns feature mica - a mineral she hand-mines and uses to add detail to her dresses, or to make necklaces to perfectly complement her looks.  Her white and plum strapless gown with a train (shown above) was the perfect choice for her finale - gorgeous!

I hope you enjoyed having a look at the collections that hit the runway this past Tuesday from the past and present Chicago Fashion Incubator designers.  Congratulations to all the designers for their hard work and dedication.  Designing a collection takes focus and determination and all of you continue to make Chicago proud and the world take notice.

Until next year!