Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mario Tricoci and vitaminwater® Present: The 2011 InspireDesign Show

Wednesday, October 19, 2011:
Fashion Focus Chicago was off to a successful start with the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) Show - but, it was time for a bit of competition.  Enter:  the InspireDesign Show presented by Mario Tricoci and vitaminwater® - also known as the Mario, Make Me a Model show.  This runway event blends a bit of healthy competition and fashion into one all-out fashion fete.  Five model finalists compete for a chance to win a contract with a top Chicago fashion agency, while talented designers showcase their collections for us to drool over.  Sounds good to me.
The five model hopefuls:
The models competing for the contract walked in the show as their final challenge - right alongside the pros.  Competing for the win were (see above - L to R):  Juni Park, Lynn Tatge, Zachary Ross Alexandra Cangelosi and Mercedes Johnson - each hoping to be chosen as "Mario's Models."  Showcased on the runway, were five stellar collections - and I have to say:  from front row ... they all looked quite amazing.  (So what?  I'm bragging.)  Check 'em out:

Inspired by what they considered a lack of accessible clothing both well designed and versatile enough to accommodate their wardrobe desires, Telo Dunne and Olivia Shanks launched Imaginary people in the fall of 2009.  Their aim with Imaginary People is to make highly functional, versatile and elegant pieces that are as lovely to wear as they are to look at.  They believe that wardrobe basics can be fashion forward.  The line is built around a core collection of creatively reinvented wardrobe staples made of slinky jersey knits and comfy cotton blends that are carried cover and added to each season.  The label’s individual pieces stand strong on their own, pair cleverly with one another and complement the basics that most women already own.
Michelle Tan was interested in fashion design at an early age. She took her first sewing class when she was in fourth grade. After one sewing lesson, she designed her first outfit by using newspaper as pattern papers. After graduating with a bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design from International Academy of Technology and Designs in 1999, she took six months off to travel to Asia searching for fabrics and yarns for her first collection.

Michelle Tan launched her line under her name in Fall 2000. Tan’s devotion to deconstruction and details has made her Chicago’s fastest growing designer. In 2000 she won the Style Maker and Rule Breaker Award by Fashion Group International, and in 2001 she won the Marshal Field’s Distinction Award and sold her line to Marshall Field’s. Michelle Tan sells to over 60 stores across the US, Canada, and Japan. In June 2006 she opened her first flagship boutique in Wicker Park, and in 2010 opened her second boutique in Downtown Block 37.
Founded in 2009 by husband and wife team of Cheikh Lam and Sophie Lin. Lin, with a BFA from The School Of The Art Institute of Chicago was working in womenswear when she teamed up with her husband, Cheikh to create looks that are inspired by his longtime appreciation of European streetwear.  J.Cheikh creates clothes that the contemporary gentleman would enjoy wearing on a daily basis. By updating classic pieces with surprising fabrication and color choices, J.Cheikh stands by the idea that men should have it all. There is no such thing as sacrificing style for comfort. J.Cheikh embodies both qualities, making the line unpretentiously luxurious.

Based in Chicago, the brand focuses on modernizing the fundamentals of classic menswear. The J.Cheikh team has always thought it important to support the local fashion and manufacturing community so the line is not only designed in Chicago, the materials are also sourced in the city and the manufacturing is also produced locally. J.Cheikh draws inspiration from the unique mix of European silhouettes with American ease. Each season fabric and color combinations are unexpected and sleek.
Created September 2000, Narcisse Designs, a couture fashion company, each artistic piece is handcrafted in order to make our customers feel glamorous and unique. Narcisse customers are fashion forward individuals who want to create a matchless impression. Our pieces are not products but investments, like art. If you buy a dress from Narcisse, you can wear it for years since each piece is custom made staying true to the "art" of couture not the trends of this years fashions. We create haute couture that is classically sensual and uninhibited and that is how we want our clients to feel.

Razor sharp silhouettes, slinky dramatic gowns with unique embellishments and defining details, shape Narcisse’s Latest Collection. Luxurious fabrics, feathers and unique cuts make up the designs that have a reputation for being desirable with an edge. The latest Collection is being completed. Collection includes 14 new couture designs and our new luxury jewelry line debut.
Tatyana was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and in 1992, her family immigrated to America. She always loved the arts, movies, and fashion, but kept it to her, it was not a career option in the family. It was all inside though, brewing. Sewing was in her blood and her mother was a seamstress in Ukraine and worked in the factory, nothing glamorous. In 2003 Tatyana moved to Chicago, and met an artist that suggested to take up sewing and creating.

That is exactly what she did and started to nurture what she knew was her gift. In October 2009 she was the Fresh Face of Gen Art Chicago and after, she committed to herself to her fashion career full time. In August 2010, she moved to New York, to pursue her career further. 

The collection is inspired by the timeless movie classic Casablanca meets reddoll. There is a balance between the styles and periods of time that Tatyana loves! The hand work that is involved in the process with the combination of high quality fabric makes this collection romantic and sophisticated.

After each of the fifty looks walked the runway, it was time for Mr. Mario Tricoci to announce the winner.  Little did the audience know, Mario had a different plan in mind:  two winners.  (That tricky hair-loving man.)  You could see the models' holding their breath as he talked and I can only imagine what they were saying in their heads as he continued to do so.
Mario Tricoci congratulates all of the contestants:
Soon enough - it was time to announce the winner...s.  After a pause, Mr. Tricoci called Juni Park and Mercedes Johnson as the two that would share the title.
The winners:  Juni Park and Mercedes Johnson:
(Is it bad that I wanted them to fight for the trophy?  Ok, ok - I'll behave.)
The girls took an excited final walk down the runway - each clutching part of the trophy - and Mario kindly congratulated the other models.  It was a gorgeous show to watch - and I would be upset with myself if I didn't mention the amazing producers:  Jennifer Wisniewski and Lisa Marie McComb - who produced a beautifully flawless runway show. (Such pros!) Congratulations to all the models - especially the 2011 winners, Juni and Mercedes!

Truly another fantastic Fashion Focus Chicago event and great exposure for our Windy City - which proved true to its' name as we were rushed out into the night, where the fifty mile per hour winds awaited us.

Clearly Chicago doesn't care that my hair is always part of the outfit.


Mr. Tricoci watches as the models walk the runway:

Macy's Presents: The Designers of the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) 2011 Runway Show

Tuesday, October 18, 2011:
The time has come for another round of coverage for Fashion Focus Chicago!  Some of you may be wondering what took me so long to get posting after the shows - and I'll tell you:  I think I have literally just woken up after a week of events.  I was able to make it to ten events last week - yes, ten - and I have found some time to post about the two tent shows that I was able to attend in Millennium Park.   So - let's get to it...

One of my very favorite shows each year is "The Designers of the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) Runway Show presented by Macy's."  This year was no different, with a stellar showing from the past DIR (Designers in Residence) - many of whom I have had the opportunity to work with professionally at Agency Galatea - and the current 2011 DIR.  We saw the work of a whopping fifteen designers walk the runway, dominated by womenswear with a total of twelve collections and three menswear collections.  The Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) is one of my favorite organizations in Chicago, as it helps to "bridge the gap between design school and entrepreneurship" by offering designers the "workspace and tools to establish and grow their companies."  (Not to mention - a ton of good buzz to help expose their work to a market beyond Chicago.)

I arrived a bit later than expected (thank you, Rachel Yeomans for the text!) and got settled in my press seat with my bud, Kate Jacobsen.  (Another shout-out to Kamal Bosamia (Media Relations Manager, Macy's) and the amazing Lara Miller (Executive Director, CFI) for their wonderful accommodations!)  Before we could scope out the printed list of looks - the show had begun.  What followed was a colorful mix of fabrics, patterns and cuts that spoke to many different customers.  I was especially pleased to see a great line of plus sized designs - along with some of my old favorites - who will remain unnamed ... I blog fair, people.  (But, you know who you are!)

In case you weren't able to attend - I would like to bring you back to that day with me by posting some looks below and a bit of info about each designer.  Ready for the show? 

Lights slowly fade to black.

Music starts.

Lights blast on.

The first model hits the runway and works...

Influenced by her vibrant African heritage fused with Western design sensibilities, Modahnik exudes an underlying sexiness via signature African textiles and is produced in Africa using fair trade practices:
Crystal B. Designs fuses architectural form with the female silhouette to positively enhance the features of the female figure:
Timeless, classic designs are updated with special details that add a twist of originality, essential to making the Shavonne Dorsey customer feel special:
Concetta (designer) strives to balance femininity with structure, strength with beauty, and intricacy with simplicity - the same elements that embody the women she designs for:
A modern perspective to classic menswear with a commitment to quality and U.S. manufacturing, Eric’s line focuses on sharply tailored suits and separates that easily transition from office to evening:
Gidi blends vintage sophistication with modern flair, giving everyone that wears her garments a subtle allure that makes them unforgettable:
C/FAN is a marriage of menswear inspired details, such as pocket squares, and feminine silhouettes, which creates a line that is extremely versatile, high quality and still affordable:
Killian Gui is a contemporary Menswear brand that masters the blend of elegant business attire with modern casual wear:
Nonnie is a result of early-mid 1900's inspiration, merged with a modern semblance.  The designs are inspired by men's desire for functionality, fit, and ambition for modernity:
 Miriam manipulates fabric to create more "sculpted than stitched" garments.  The collection ranges from cocktail separates to couture hand-sewn gowns referred to as "soaring, abstract, iridescent and darkly beautiful":
A line of vintage-inspired lingerie and foundation wear - sophisticated underthings that shape the body naturally into a more flattering silhouette:

Inspired by the Chicago underground music/art scene and influenced by modern trends, the young contemporary line is unique, edgy and comfortable:

Strong, hard working, multitasking women are a constant source of inspiration for Ryba.  She strives to develop pieces that are not only artistically inspiring but that also make sense in a modern women's wardrobe:

The growing cultural environment of Chicago helps Agga implement her artistic visions of fusing fashion and art into one creative entity:
The line has two distinct personalities; one is punky and playful, while the other is sleek and classy. Evil Kitty's target audience is strong, independent women who like to stand out in the crowd. Bright colors and playful designs dominate the Evil Kitty landscape:
Finale walk.

Clapping, clapping, clapping. 

Lights slowly fade out.

So - what did you think of the show?  I certainly hope you enjoyed it and that you will take a moment to check out the websites of these talented designers.  These are the people that are working hard every day to make a name for themselves - and a name for Chicago fashion.  I thank you for joining me at the CFI Show (what? ... you just saw the show - tell all your friends) and I hope to see you very soon.

We may even sit front row.