• Interview with Chicago fashion designer Bryan K Osburn

    Prospective and retrospective is where you can find Chicago designer, Bryan K Osburn. His is a rich career which spans decades and continents. His gowns have been worn by titans of music including Natalie Cole, Phyliss Hyman, Patti Labelle, Diana Ross and Kathleen Battle.

    We sat down with Bryan to learn a bit about this amazing man and his process.

    Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?

    BKO: My first steps I took in the world of fashion was learning about fabrics and basic sewing that my mom taught me.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    BKO: I received my training from three places, deign school in Chicago (Ray Vogue College) now called The Illinois Institute of Art. The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and actually working in the industry.

    Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?

    BKO: I started as a intern for bridal designer Vera Wang right out of design college, and later I was an assistant to various bridal designers on 7th avenue.

    Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?

    BKO: My recent project was my anniversary show, celebrating my 30 wonderful years in the industry making custom evening, prom and bridal gowns. I presented a collection that I called the NOIR Collection that featured a 30 piece collection of black dresses from past and present collections.

    Q: Where do you find inspiration — for this current collection as well as past collections?

    BKO: My inspiration for past and present collections comes from all sorts of places and sources: new and old movies, fabrics, music, paintings, architecture, my friends and my family.

    Q: What drives you to work, and to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?

    BKO: My desire to keep designing and work to produce future collections simply comes from the love I have for fashion and the industry, it's truly my first love, it's in my DNA.

    Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences/energizes your views on fashion?

    BKO: What influences me in my personal life and or my history … my parents, esp. my mother was one of my very first inspirations along with various aunts that were always soo put together!

    Q: Why do you design in Chicago?

    BKO: I design in Chicago because its my hometown! I moved away, and was out of Chicago, working for 22 years — I lived in New York City, Provence France and Charlotte North Carolina in that time. I am glad to be back home.

    Q:What would you like to see happen in the Chicago area to help the fashion industry to grow?

    BKO: What I’d love to see happen in Chicago to help the industry here: I wish our local media and talk shows like Windy City Live and other Chicago morning talk shows would introduce a local Chicago designer each month by featuring the designer on air with a fashion show!!

    Q: Any advice for the student to design?

    BKO: My advice to student designers...Stay focused, don't ever give up, stay open to learn new things and learn the craft and learn from our history of designers.

  • Interview with Chicago fashion designer, Shruti Kirti

    Passion and enthusiasm for the craft of fashion design is most obvious about Shruti Kirti, a dynamic, apparel and accessory designer-in-residence in Chicago’s Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street. Like her colleagues, she spends her time these days working to sharpen her entrepreneurial skills and develop a global fashion enterprise. Shruti’s designs are sleek and inviting with bold architectural elements. She possess a delightful demeanor which is charming and deeply intoxicating. She sat down with us yesterday for a chat about her process and inspiration.

    Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?

    Shruti: That's a great question! Technically the first steps into the fashion world were getting accepted to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Fashion Department. Before that I had no fashion design or garment construction experience. Being immersed in the department was a major learning experience.

    Q: Can you share a bit more about your education?

    Shruti: Like I mentioned, I went to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The education I received from the Fashion Department was intense! It's a very fast paced environment, and there is such much to absorb. However the level of creativity expected from you really pushes your limits - it's great!

    Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?

    Shruti: During college, and even after graduating, I did a lot of interning with local fashion designers in Chicago. That experience was so valuable because I got to see the nuts and bolts of being an independent designer.

    Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?

    Shruti: I'd love to talk about what I'm working on! Currently my Fall/Winter 2016 collection is in production. This is my first collection as a Chicago Fashion Incubator Designer in Residence. The collection is rich with warm tones, and lots of geometric style lines. I'm also developing my Spring/Summer 2017 collection. The sensibility with this group is much lighter in terms of color.

    Q: Where do you find inspiration? for this current collection as well as past collections?

    Shruti: I know a lot of people say this, but I find inspiration everywhere! My bread and butter comes from Rajasthan, India, where I was born. Rajasthan being largely desert and ancient palaces, lends itself to so many avenues of content. Everything from the intense colors, to the style lines of the sand dunes, to the people who live there are all very inspirational. Additionally I have a natural gravitation towards modern architecture, clean lines, and simple shapes. The combination of those two anchors have given me lots of imagery.

    Q: What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?

    Shruti: I think anything you are passionate about drives you. For me garment design is my passion, and that's what propels me to continue creating collections. I also learn a phenomenal amount about so many different facets with each season - what types of fabrications are out there to create a garment, what's the best way to pattern a specific silhouette, which companies will be a successful partnership to collaborate with to create my product, the list goes on!

    Q: Is your design style influenced by any designers? If so, who and why?

    Shruti: There are so many amazing designers and companies in the fashion industry to draw influence from. Aesthetically I'm a major fan of Jil Sander, Narciso Rodriguez, and Roksanda to name a few. All three companies have very inspiring designs that encompass interesting garment construction.

    Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences/energizes your views on fashion?

    Shruti: I believe how we dress is a very simple and straightforward way to represent who we are, what our mood is, and what we want to say. Personally, I'm a more introverted, I do a lot of listening and seeing, instead of talking. Fashion is a way for me to connect with other people without having to verbally explain myself.

    Q: Why do you design in Chicago?

    Shruti: Hahaha! I really like this question! I grew up in Chicago, I went to college in Chicago, it's my home! Furthermore the people here are very supportive, encouraging, and genuinely interested in what I'm designing. Also the market is not over saturated like in other parts of the country so the chances of "existing" are more favorable.

    Q: What would you like to see happen in the Chicago area to help the fashion industry to grow?

    Shruti: Yes, there's a lot, hahaha! The two major things for me are resources - so everything from fabric shows, to production capabilities, and secondly exposure.

    Q: Who are you designing for? Who are you passionate about?

    Shruti: I design women's career wear with an emphasis on functionality. I use fabric that is wrinkle resistant, travels well, and has a good amount of stretch that moves with the body. I'm very fortunate to know many dynamic women who juggle their careers outside the home and family life. I want to create a garment that helps her get through the day.

    Q: What are your hopes or goals for the future of your brand?

    Shruti: That's a big question! As an entrepreneur I want to successfully execute my idea. As a clothing designer, a major goal is to create a garment that I am very proud of, but also women are very proud to wear.

    Q: Any advice for the student to design?

    Shruti: Yes, be curious!

  • Interview with Philadelphia fashion designer, Victoria Wright

    The arduous demands of the business of fashion design are ones routinely tackled by a rare coterie of dedicated darlings across the nation and around the world. While process, energy, and inspiration may vary between them, much of the motivations and passions are shared. Finding and connecting the dots of this shared experience helps to not only amplify the journey of the designer and introduce us to a new talent, but it also manages to bring us all a little closer together.

    In a continued effort to share various fashion designers’ experience, a visit to Philadelphia is a must. Yesterday, we connected with Victoria Wright, a rising star and Philadelphia based designer who is committed to creating fashion that caters to the individuality of each woman’s style. Her line is feminine, modern and effortlessly chic.

    Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?

    Victoria Wright: As a child I always knew I wanted to be some sort of artist or designer. From an early age my mother taught me art history and encouraged my creativity. I always enjoyed drawing people, especially women dressed in elegant ensembles. I just loved to dream up intricate dresses and to put a whole look together on paper. When I was about 12 or 13 years old I realized that there was actually a career out there where I could do just that and go a step further: bringing those looks into reality. So, I worked very hard to learn everything I could about how to create my designs. I bought a pattern making textbook, took sewing classes, and got my first job as a Fitter’s Assistant at Anne Bailey’s Bridal.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    VW: I began my official training at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. I became very homesick in my second year there and made the decision to return to Philadelphia to study at Moore College of Art and Design. Not only did I have a great scholarship to attend there, but I found I much preferred the smaller class sizes and the personal connection students were able to make with the professors.

    Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?

    VW: While in college I interned for two companies: Walter Baker, and Rebecca Taylor. After graduating I freelanced and interned at Urban Outfitters and Club Monaco. These were invaluable experiences because I was able to really see how both small and large fashion companies were organized and run, I learned the process of designing and production, and so much more. I also realized that creating my own company was the only way I would have complete creative freedom. So, when given the opportunity to join the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, I took the leap and created my own brand.

    Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?

    VW: Currently I am working on Spring/Summer 2017. Working in fashion, you must always be about a year ahead in order to keep up with the fast paced fashion calendar. The designs and details about this collection are still under wraps, but stay tuned to hear more! Currently, my Spring/Summer 2016 collection is available in stores for purchase. I love this collection because it is so dreamy and feminine. I call the collection “Romance in Provence” because it was inspired by a fantasy about the French countryside, the rolling hills of lavender, and finding love in this beautiful setting. I actually took a trip to France with my boyfriend, (who happens to be French), and we had our own romantic road trip as we travelled to a little village in Provence to do the photo shoot.

    Q: Where do you find inspiration? for this current collection as well as past collections?

    VW: I find inspiration all over. Street style from around the globe, art exhibits, vintage fashion, films, you name it! I feel most inspired when I am travelling. I just love to see how people from different places dress, where they go for leisure, and to experience their culture.

    Q: What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?

    VW: I’m driven by a deep desire to express myself while also helping others helping others express their selves. In addition, I love to create clothing that will make women feel confident and beautiful. Seeing how my designs have the ability to transform a person, and to boost their confidence is so rewarding!

    Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences/energizes your views on fashion?

    VW: Definitely the fact that my mother taught me art history growing up. Since she really promoted and encouraged my interest in art from an early age it helped me to grow creatively and to develop an appreciation for historical dress as shown in the various art works that I studied with her.

    Q: Is your design style influenced by any designers? If so, who and why?

    VW: I always keep an eye on what other designers are doing and find a lot of inspiration from the runways. There isn’t really one particular designer that I look to now to influence my designs. I have always admired the work of Oscar De La Renta because of how sophisticated and timeless the designs are.

    Q: Can you share why you have chosen to produce your line in New York?

    VW: I produce my line in New York City because there is a wealth of resources in the garment district and it is really not too far away from my studio in Philadelphia. I am able to oversee production and ensure that the highest quality work is being produced. And I am very proud to say my collection is all made in the USA!

    Q: Yours is presently a wholesale business model; could you share the reasons for your choice and how your business/choices have changed over the years?

    VW: If you look at contemporary designers who are successful and well known today, you will see that most if not all of them work on a wholesale business model. My choice to be a wholesale business model was simply to be in line with my competition and to allow for future growth of my company. Working on a direct to consumer business model would not allow for my company to grow past a certain point because being one person I would never have the time to reach as many customers as I can by being in various stores. It also makes the most sense for production. My wholesale accounts will order several of each style therefore helping me to meet my factory minimums and taking away part of the risk.

    Q: What would you like to see happen in the Philadelphia area to help the fashion industry to grow?

    VW: It would be great to see a revitalization of Fabric Row and to see more factories willing to work with small designers in Philadelphia. As I said, New York City is not too far, but being able to produce things in Philadelphia would be even more convenient and helpful to revitalize the Philadelphia fashion industry as a whole. If the resources were here in Philadelphia, designers would not feel obligated to leave to go to New York City in order to pursue their dreams of a career in fashion. This way, there is just another option out there for young designers graduating all the amazing design schools we have right here in Philadelphia.

    Q: Any advice for the student to design?

    VW: My advice to any design students out there is to intern and work for fashion companies while you are in school/ post graduation. This is the best way to figure out how the industry works and who you are as a designer without spending your own money creating a start-up. After that experience you will be better equipped if you decide to start your own business.

    Victoria Wright’s collection can be found on her website and in a variety of boutiques in the Philadelphia area.

  • A Conversation with Chicago fashion designer, Nadia Ivanova

    That the work of a designer is kindled and ignited by art, architecture and history is not always apparent. Very often, the influences are subtle — colors, choices of textile or ornamentation — but not so with the designs of Bulgarian born, Nadia Ivanova. When Ivanova is inspired by the Great Mosque of Cordoba or the way the architecture of the Ottoman Empire was reinterpreted by the Christians, these themes are palpable in her collection.

    This Chicago designer, who often spends time in London, brings a perspective and a style that broadens our choices and our palate. Catching up with Ivanova to explore her process and motivations was a true delight.

    Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?

    Nadia Ivanova: I stood by my desires and said I am going to do this. Fashion school was something that came along with the desire to learn. After I graduated, I decided that I just needed to create and share my designs.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    Nadia Ivanova: Harper College in Palatine IL and American Intercontinental University in London UK.

    Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?

    Nadia Ivanova: I interned for up-and-coming London designer Ioannis Dimitrousis as well as for the amazing and legendary Bruce Oldfield.

    Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?

    Nadia Ivanova: The latest collection “Piles” is inspired by the idea of taking something that is no longer of use and making it beautiful again, like piles of used wood. The collection takes ideas from contemporary artists like Vong Phaophanit, Conrad Freiburg, Tadashi Kawamata and Robert Smithson. The inspiration for the name "Piles" came from all the things that are thrown around but that can be reused in creating stunning and functional items. Garments taking new shapes; textures and materials found in artists' work spaces, all inspired me to create a collection using ingenious ways of cutting and constructing various fabrics and materials.

    Q: Where do you find inspiration, for this current collection as well as past collections?

    Nadia Ivanova: Inspiration is all around, in my book; I mean literally anywhere, I can find it in anything: a gear from a bike, a napkin, a tree, a painting, a song, and so on. I have taken inspiration from various places. Some of my inspirations are: the wrappings of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, works of Salvador Dali, the evolution of Turkish/Muslim architecture, unfinished structures of skyscrapers, the song Lili Marleen by Marlene Dietrich, the movement of tectonic plates, industrial designer Ross Lovegrove and so on. I just follow what strikes my interest at that point and time.

    Q: What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?

    Nadia Ivanova: I love seeing my creations on others. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling that I cannot explain. I have always felt it. I just love to create art in the form of clothes. I actually admire all forms of art, clothing, apparel is just the one that I can do best.

    Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences/energizes your views on fashion?

    Nadia Ivanova: [From an early age,] there was always a wanting or longing to express myself as a creative individual but growing up and realizing that I need to present myself in a professional light. This mature yet creative image and feeling is what I am trying to create for others.

    Q: Is your design style influenced by any designers? If so, who and why?

    Nadia Ivanova: I admire lots of other designers, but I have not taken inspiration or influence from any before. A few of my favorite designers are: Hussein Chalayan, Commes des Garçon, Viktor & Rolf, Maison Martin Margiela and Yohji Yamamoto.

    Q: Why do you design in Chicago?

    Nadia Ivanova: My blunt self would say ‘because I live here’; but despite that fact, Chicago is a great city to get your point across. The fashion industry will grow and I with it. I have traveled and worked all over the world, but I am here now and it works for me.

    Q: What would you like to see happen in the Chicago area to help the fashion industry to grow?

    Nadia Ivanova: More of a unity between everyone in the fashion industry and the city. We don’t all know each other, but let’s all work together and help the city keep on rising.

    Q: Any advice for the student to design?

    Nadia Ivanova: Always follow your dream, but be prepared for all it might bring you. Your dream will come or evolve into something greater. Just keep working towards it without hesitation. 

    Nadia's collection can be purchased in the Bottega.

  • Portrait of an emerging designer: Elizabeth Parker

    Chicago is rich with fashion design talent. From Halston, to Cynthia Rowley, to Elizabeth Parker, it's not always enough to know the name of a favorite fashion brand, oftentimes, it really helps to understand the inspiration and vision which informs the collections. Emerging fashion designer, Elizabeth Parker is the creative vision behind the 'rich casual' label. This is a brand which brings a new vibrance and colorful energy to Chicago fashion. Yesterday, Elizabeth sat down with me and candidly shared her thoughts and answers on style, inspiration and design.

    Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?

    Elizabeth Parker: I've been creating, as a fine artist, since an early age. Some time ago, as I was painting an abstract, using brilliant colors, I was inspired to use them to design a dress and from then on I realized art and design worked together.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    Elizabeth Parker: Working with my customers and boutiques, for example, has provided me with the experience to develop my skills as a designer.

    Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?

    Elizabeth Parker: Because of my extensive background in art, I felt confident to break out on my own.

    Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?

    Elizabeth Parker: My plan for the spring is to design a collection called "XYZ" using primarily earth colored linen and cotton fabrics. The pieces will be three-dimensional, comfortable, useful, and unique.

    Q: Where do you find inspiration? for this current collection as well as past collections?

    Elizabeth Parker: For the most recent collection, the holiday spirit has deeply inspired me.

    Q: What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?

    Elizabeth Parker: The myriad daily changes in my life inspires me to continue making new designs. These changes continually inspire me.

    Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences your views on fashion?

    Elizabeth Parker: I’ve always enjoyed people and watching people as they create, express themselves. Over time and based on my observations, there are lots of people who lose their way and dress inappropriately. This, I found, has given me an opportunity to design pieces that would improve their appearance, their style, their sense of themselves.

    Q: Why do you design in Chicago?

    Elizabeth Parker: One thing that I love about Chicago, is that Chicago has great atmosphere with wonderful architecture, views, and scenery -- and I routinely use this great scenery for my photo shoots.

    Q: What would you like to see happen in the Chicago area to help the fashion industry to grow?

    Elizabeth Parker: It would be great if we could make available more places as venues for up and coming designers.

    Q: Any advice for the student to design?

    Elizabeth Parker: I think the young designer or design student should keenly observe their surroundings but remember to remain true to their ideas in their hearts. 

    Rich Casual Designs can be found in the Bottega.

  • Fashion Film Festival Chicago announces 2015 winners!

    Fashion Film Festival Chicago announced the winning entries from its 2015 Festival and competition. The Festival screening took place at Columbia College Chicago's Film Row Cinema. The honorees are as follows:

    First place - Coupe d'Or - went to ‘Silver Girl’ by Josh Brandao. According to Brandao, his film was “inspired by the world of Spanish bullfighting, ‘Silver Girl’ tells the story of a woman and a man, both equal in their own merit, and how gender and age determined their fate. The film showcases a full collection of hats by British hat designer Philip Treacy, jewelry by Adler Jewellers as well as designs by Julian McDonald and Armani.”

    Second place - Médaille d'Argent - went to ‘Learn itSelf’, a fashion film by Gregory Marchenko. According to Marchenko, the film “is the symbolism that affects the subconscious. The viewer can think through, continuing himself, to draw an analogy with himself and his inner world.”

    Third place - Médaille de Bronze - went to ‘The Chase’, a fashion film by Graham Sheldon. According to the film’s producer, Dhrumil Desai, “ ‘The Chase’ marks our entree into the world of fashion film. Our team approached this short film with the concept of creating a game of cat and mouse between two people in an undefined relationship. The ambiguity of the chase is something we tried to keep present throughout while showing a variety of fashion from various designers. We also aimed to create a sense of danger and an almost animalistic pursuit with our use of the White Tiger.”

    The Fashion Honor award went to Daisy Gili’s ‘Paroha Surrender’. According to Gili, “‘Paroha: Surrender’ is an exploration of what it means to be a Paroha woman in a world where luxury, beauty, and sensuality combine to create an intoxicating blend of fantasy and reality.”

    This year’s category winners include: Jan Macierewicz’s ‘Tribe’ which received the "Essence of Fashion" award; Gianluca Grandinetti’s ‘Atman - Mavranyma’ received the “Beauty” award; and the award for best “Creative Concept” went to Javiera Huidobro for ‘H & M Challenge'. The Audience Choice Award was shared by Phillip Montgomery and Josh Franer's Homeward: Lost & Found, and Cecilie Allain's .Madeleine Road.

    H & M Challenge

    The winning submissions were screened along with the other official selections at Columbia College Chicago as Chicago’s 2015 fall fashion week events came to a close.

    Fashion film is a rapidly developing category of filmmaking. Emerging and established designers and filmmakers creatively cooperate to produce dream-like, experimental, dramatic, edgy, beautiful or deeply inspiring film. It is a short form that carries enormous impact and enthusiasm.

    The Fashion Film Festival Chicago (FFFC) is an annual festival and competition which aims to celebrate the beauty and art of fashion as captured through the filmmakers' lens. Fashion Film Festival Chicago accepts submissions from July 1st through June 1st each year, after-which the selection committee and jury view and vote for stand-outs from among the healthy group of submissions. Visit the Fashion Film Festival Chicago website for more information on the annual festival and to enjoy the winning selections.

  • Fashion Film Festival Chicago announces 2015 official Jury

    The Fashion Film Festival Chicago (FFFC) announced today, the jury for the upcoming 2015 Festival Competition. The jury -- a diverse group of industry leaders -- consists of a television show host and personality, film festival founder/director, international fashion stylists, award winning fashion designers and entrepreneurs, photographers, filmmakers, and fashion bloggers.

    “This group is an exciting addition to the Festival as their diverse backgrounds and interests will bring varying perspectives and thoughtful opinions when evaluating the submissions,” said Patsy Campbell, founder of the Fashion Film Festival Chicago.

    The following is a list of the 2015 Festival jurors:

    • Whitney Reynolds is host and personality for the PBS television program ‘The Whitney Reynolds Show’.
    • Emma Michalak is an actor, independent filmmaker, and the founder, president and director of programming for the Princeton Film Festival.
    • Erika Degraffinreaidt is founder and senior fashion stylist of French Vendette'.
    • Eric Kipp is president and creative director of Eric Kipp Custom Clothiers Company.
    • Darrell A. White is a photographer and the owner of Darel Photography specializing in wedding, fashion, portrait and industrial photography.
    • Chan C. Smith is a freelance professional videographer, independent filmmaker, and visual storyteller from Chicago, IL.
    • Katelyn Pankoke is the designer and creative director behind Chicago-based bridal line Elaya Vaughn.
    • Nicki Brashear is the found of Fashionista Chicago, a style hub with a special focus on emerging independent designers and hidden boutiques.

  • Ellie Day Collection: Inspired Reinvention

    We first met Ellie Day with the launch of her fall 2012 collection, which drew inspiration from her muse Betsey Johnson. That collection was steeped in color and the influences of Aztecan art. Three seasons and three children later, Day -- while still inspired by Betsey Johnson, has found the realities of family life and the need for multifunction have substantially greater influence on her design perspective.

    “As a mom of three, I need clothing for special events -- showers, birthdays, company Christmas parties; clothes that can play hard and still look cute.” A close look at the collection and its direction was in order. “My production team and I looked at each silhouette to see where we could improve the quality and hand finishings of these garments -- keeping our customers lives in mind.  Each garment was really examined with an eye towards expanding it's versatility. . . things like detachable collars, belting options, layering [were all considered].”

    Moderate reconstruction began with the expansion of the available sizes. “We worked on the fit and sizing of the collection.  The collection is now offered in 0-16 and I will make custom alterations and sizing as needed”, offered Day. This broadening was followed by Day’s balancing the collection. “While dresses are the mainstay of the collection, because of their ease in dressing, I am now offering a pant, jacket/layering piece, and coat.  I think it's important to show day to evening styling options for the dresses within the collection,” concludes Day.

    The amplification doesn’t end there. The collection’s strong commitment to versatility begs its graceful entrance into the elegance of bridal. An over arching request of the modern bride has been the desire for this traditional gown to serve more than one purpose. “I've started taking some of my favorite dress silhouettes and offering the bridal world a new take on wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses.  The wedding dresses I'm making I lovingly call ‘the anti-ballgown’. I want to create fun frocks that are almost not wedding dresses; something that could, with the right styling, maybe be worn out to dinner for an anniversary; mini versions of high fashion confections”, says Day.

    Spring Fashion Week is also the primary season for launching new bridal collections. Much like the ready-to-wear and couture collections, the bridal designers take this opportunity to introduce new ideas to bridal fashion -- from reinvented necklines, cutting edge embellishments, trendy fabrications, and new color introductions, to capes and convertible skirts. Day brings her vision and ‘versatility’ to bridal fashion too. “I am offering prints and solids that brides can choose to customize in many ways with flowers and other embellishments. It is all done on a small scale so they have that individual attention.  Everything will be made to order.  And the sizing is also the same as the collection 0-16, but we will not be limited by those numbers; we are eager to accommodate today’s woman, wherever she finds herself.”   This compelling collection can be enjoyed on the runway at The Fashion Market’s Spring Fashion Event.

  • From Lanvin to Akers: the spirit and passion of beautiful design continues

    The childrenswear market in the U.S. is not what it used to be. For a very long time, childrenswear was a static, predictable, and very classic market. From one season to the next, the looks were the same, routine. In fact, in the early going it was not much of a ‘designer marketplace’.

     Europe, however, had long been the situs of the creative childrenswear market. In 1909, Jeanne Lanvin began the practice when she began making clothing for her daughter; clothing so beautiful that many wealthy Europeans began requesting copies for their own children. The trend finally made its way across the pond and has exploded in recent years.

    Now that designers have entered the children’s apparel scene, the clothes have become expressive, colorful, unique and daring. And as children love to don bold, eye-catching, expressive clothing, it is a match made in heaven. Today’s childrenswear designers enjoy unparalleled freedoms and creative license. The designer who grabs this freedom by the tail -- tilting towards the beautiful or creative or imaginative as their passions permit -- grants their audience and followers a gift to behold.

    Such a sublime honor was bestowed upon the 300 or so attendees of Saturday’s Fashion Forward! runway show. Among the collections on the runway on the final evening of Chicago’s Fall Fashion Week 2014 was Alicia Akers’ Alexandria Olivia. In Akers’ words, “Alexandria Olivia is a unique fashion experience for your one of a kind child. My custom made outfits are guaranteed to turn heads wherever you go.“ And so they did. Akers launched her Spring/Summer 2015 collection to enormous fanfare.

    “I have been sewing for over 30 years,” said Akers, “but I never had an interest in sewing for children until my daughter was born. Designing luxury children’s clothing is now my passion.” A fact that was evident on the runway.

    Vivacity, fabrication, detail, creativity and design were all present in this collection. According to Akers, “Alexandria Olivia has a combination of funky, modern, fabulous, and exclusive outfits for children. I take great pride, time, and patience in making each and every outfit special”.

    With collections like that of Alexandria Olivia, this year’s Fall Fashion Week was truly a conference in creativity, beauty and grace. It is fairly safe to say that Chicagoans have been hereby imbued with a sufficient dose of inspiration; certainly enough to carry us all through the long winter months and into spring.

  • Ian Hargrove's AgainstAllOdds, fashion encapsulated

    Ian Hargrove's AgainstAllOdds, fashion encapsulated

    The idea of creating a few select, indispensable items of clothing that stand the test of time, are completely interchangeable, and are the perfect combination of practicality and style -- is what is known as a capsule collection.

    The capsule wardrobe is a celebrated UK designer tool and a concept that was utilized by Donna Karan when she launched her very first collection. The decision to begin your career by creating a collection which transcends season, fad, and whim; maximizes the number of looks that can be created from a few essential pieces; and does so with flair is also the way that Chicago's Ian Hargrove began his career in fashion design. Hargrove is the creative energy behind AgainstAllOdds, a contemporary women's wear brand founded in 2012.

    Hargrove's interest in fashion design evolved from a strong interest in art into an interest in sketching and creating illustrations. From there he took classes in garment construction and draping, but admits that he owes "the large part of my design and construction ability to trial and error and hands-on experience" in fashion design.

    Since the launch of AAO, he and his creative partner Erin DuFour have designed and produced two capsule collections and and will debut their first full collection this October in Chicago's Fall Fashion Week.

    Hargrove and DuFour's excitement about this new collection is evident in their tone. "The silhouettes are simple, construction rigorous in its detail, and a great mix of chic and cool," Hargrove declares.

    The collection is a stunning and captivating celebration of white for spring. According to Hargrove, AAO's S/S '15 collection is "loosely based on a picture of an albino peacock. The bird's feathers in white look ethereal and frosty like spun snow. It started with that picture and before we knew it we were pulling images of everything white we could think of -- snow drifts, sugar, dried flowers, egg shells, resulting in what the obvious palate came to be."

    The S/S '15 collection boasts of crisp white separates -- stunning pencil skirts with purfled edges, white v-neck cropped tops, high waisted-mini skirts, subtle and delicate dresses that go from day to evening without hesitation. There is a jacket that is cool yet elegant when paired with the sleek cropped pant that confesses its classic tailoring.

    This collection is a logical extension of AAO's early, classic pieces, suggesting the continuation of the theme of the capsuled collection with seasonal options for expansion. Look for this luxurious ready-to-wear experience on the runway at The Fashion Market's Fashion Week runway event.