Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chicago Fashion Foundation's 2011 Scholarship Benefit

Thursday, March 3, 2011:
I am always excited when I get an invite to a Chicago Fashion Foundation (CFF) event, as I am a great supporter of initiatives to further expose the local designers in Chicago.  So, when Meghan Turner, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of (and CFF Board Member) reached out to me to join her for the CFF’s 2011 Scholarship Benefit - the answer was an immediate 'YES!'  This annual event gathered nine contestants to compete in a design contest, in the hopes of winning their share of $6500 in scholarship funds.  The lucky contestants this year included Ana Laura Leon, Elaine Hoang, Emma Bottari and Meilin Schneider from the School of the Art Institute Chicago; Rebecca Lopez from Columbia College; K’Lynn Kennedy, Caitlin Lindell, Jasmine Mitchell and O’Ron Manson all from the International Academy of Design & Technology.  This year, the designs were to be inspired by Chicago music; including original looks that represented electronica, jazz and alternative.
The beautiful Meghan Turner of
After a most productive day at Agency Galatea, I made my way over to the Chicago History Museum - an incredibly beautiful venue for such an event.  I arrived and while waiting for a drink, the fantastic Taneisha Jordan (Second City Style) tapped me on the shoulder and joined me in line.  We caught up for a bit before mingling over to Miriam Cecelia Carlson (one of my faves), who was chatting with a few of her adoring fans.  Across the way, I saw the lovely Candace Jordan (Candid Candace) and went to see her and receive a big smooch before I gladly accepted her offer to have my photo taken.  I was excited to get a glimpse of Abby Zupancic (CFF Board member and producer of the show), who stopped me to gab about how things were going backstage.
Ryan M. Beshel 
(photo from
After catching up with everyone I could, the show was ready to begin.  I took my seat (thank you, Meghan for the stellar view!) and listened to CFF Board President, Kristen Amato, as she introduced the concept of the contest and introduced the judges:  talented designer (and friend) Lara Miller, 24/7 Chicago’s beautiful Catie Keogh, the lovely Amanda Monteiro (formerly with Giorgio Armani) and Chicago's very own Candace Jordan.  Before long, she also introduced Peach Carr (Project Runway Contestant - Season 8 and an official host of the event) who shared her excitement and voiced her support of the Chicago designers.  After a few words from Peach - and applause from the waiting crowd - it was time for the show to begin...
(L) Kristen Amato (R) Peach Carr:
 The judges (L to R) - Amanda Monteiro, Catie Keogh, Lara Miller and Candace Jordan:
I sat quietly and watched the plethora of designs glide past me on the runway.  Each look showcased a different point of view and you could really feel the musical inspiration in each piece (as well as the excitement inspired by the Florence + The Machine track I was seat-dancing to during the first looks.)  I kept my eye on the judges (trying to guess which look lifted their eye) as each one-of-a-kind design walked past them.  After a fantastic selection of garments made their way down the runway - it was time for the winner to be announced.  Coming in third place was Rebecca Lopez from Columbia College, who created an ensemble inspired by The Maxwell Street blues and in second was K’Lynn Kennedy from the International Academy of  Design and Technology for her ‘Classical Edge’ design.  The coveted first place scholarship of $5000 was awarded to Ana Leon, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who sent a satin silver gown down the runway, inspired by Chicago’s jazz scene.
A selection of the designer's looks:
The event was another great success for the CFF and the local designers the foundation hopes to expose - certainly one of my favorite events this season.  Congratulations to all of the participants - as well as the winners - and I wish them continued success in their journey to becoming top designers, proud to call Chicago home.


The 2011 CFF Scholarship winner, Ana Leon:
Chicago Fashion Foundation (CFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides academic scholarships to Chicago-area college students majoring in fashion related studies and coordinates educational programs for the Chicago fashion community. CFF's goal is to maintain and develop the fashion industry in Chicago through an annual scholarship competition, yearly fundraiser, continuous professional networking events, and mentoring programs. CFF is comprised of professionals and students who are dedicated to developing and retaining local fashion talent in order to raise the caliber of the Chicago fashion industry.
**Photos courtesy of Tutto Bene Photography, unless otherwise noted**

1 comment:

Ashleigh said...

Thanks for spreading the CFF love Ryan, glad you enjoyed the event!