• The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago's Fall Fashion Show celebrates children and imagination!

    On Friday evening, the fashion design students at The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago held their Fall Fashion Show. The looks were refreshing and unique; running the gamut from couture, to ready-to-wear, to resort wear. There was a little something daring and unexpected for everyone. The playful menswear selections gave way to adorable and stylish children’s wear. Yes, children’s wear. A good one-third of the young designers proffered children’s wear collections. As a matter of fact, the second place design competition winner, Kristen Huffman, was celebrated for her kids' wear collection.

    The move to adding children’s wear to the lineup is novel and perhaps signals an additional focus for future students of design. This shift should serve as pragmatic acknowledgment of the ever-expanding children’s couture market. As a matter of fact, according to a report from the NPD Group, a global information company, the children’s apparel market was worth an estimated $30 billion from April 2012 - March 2013, up three percent compared with the preceding year. The numbers suggest that, in some sectors, the children’s apparel market is growing more steadily than comparable sectors of women’s wear.

    Not to be outdone on the runway, the women’s wear collections presented were flirty, delightful and filled with color. Drawing inspiration from Hollywood themes, the Victorian era, and Arabian nights the collections pulsed with imagination. Additional themes paid tribute to design concepts, celebrating the complexities of linear elements, textures and hues. The variety and creativity in the women’s wear collections was abundant.

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    The show was generously sponsored by the Richard Driehaus Foundation with 100% of the proceeds donated to the Brandon Marshall Foundation to raise awareness for mental illness.

  • Chicago's Savvy Seconds and 1sts leading the way in Vintage Fashion!

    No question: thrift, vintage, and resale fashion is on the rise. There are a host of influencers pushing this fashion forward, including ‘fast fashion’ which introduces fashion monthly rather than seasonally; the style of Marc Jacobs -- presently the world’s most popular designer -- which draws upon and celebrates the fashion of yesteryear with a funky modern twist; the fragile realities of our planet and the need to renew and repurpose rather than refuse; the delicate state of the world economy; and equally related, the popularity of hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit song “Thrift Shop”. Add to these cultural and economic nudges the simple fact that it’s fun and there really is no stopping this rising trend.

    According to The Association of Resale Professionals, “Resale shopping attracts consumers from all economic levels. There is no typical resale shopper, just as there is no typical resale shop. No one is immune to the excitement of finding a treasure and saving money.”

    According to America’s Research Group, a consumer research firm, approximately 18% of Americans will shop at a thrift store annually. As for resale shops, the number is approximately 15%. To get a sense of what that means, the average American shopper visits factory outlet malls 11.4% annually, 19.6% for apparel stores and 21.3% for major department stores.

    We are then not surprised to see that Hollywood’s ‘stylist-to-the-stars’ Rachel Zoe has just this year launched a reality show called Resale Royalty, all about the resale and vintage fashion business. Also, just this year, Atlanta has held it’s first ever Thrift Fashion Week.

    Not to be outdone, Chicago has long since been in the game of cultivating the vintage/resale fashion scene. There are a significant number of vintage and resale boutiques scattered about the city. Among them is Chicago’s vintage and resale duo Christin Fasuga and Carmen Riehm. The two -- best friends and mother and daughter -- launched their vintage and resale business -- Savvy Seconds and 1sts -- 10 years ago.

    According to the pair, “having both been avid thrift store/resale boutiqueshoppers our whole lives, we knew what the industry lacked. We wanted to provide hand-picked, quality finds that resale boutiques gathered, and place them at thrift store prices without the hassle of spending all day sifting through donations. So we did just that.”

    The store, located in Lincoln Square, tries “to focus simply on women's fashion forward trends.” According to Fasuga, as the store and interest grew, “I started accumulating higher quality, designer brands such as Marc Jacobs, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Diane Von Furstenburg, Anthropologie and some unique vintage pieces at a much faster rate. I, however, am not a label snob and still will not turn my cheek on other funky, statement making, no name pieces. I believe style doesn't necessarily need to have a name on it.”

    The challenge of knowing what works and how to best pair the vintage finds with modern, trendy pieces is a discussion that fills many style blog pages. However, that issue is comfortably managed as Fasuga is also a stylist and assists her clients with all of their styling needs. “A favorite thing of mine to do is mix fashion from various genres and decades. Every day is a new day, a new mood and I express myself through fashion as a correlation to that.”

    As Chicago’s Fashion Week fast approaches, we will be treated to some styling lessons and a peak at vintage on the runway as Savvy Seconds and 1sts will host a runway event at Chicago’s Fashion Forward event. Says Fasuga, “if it’s fabulous and unique, you will find it in my collection.”

  • Joneien Johnson: Chicago's solution to petite womenswear

    Women’s apparel design began in Paris in 1858 as ‘made-to-measure’ or haute couture, which means that each garment was made specifically for a particular individual. As fashion design grew, the garments were presented on runways by tall, thin models with long legs and modest measurements. The purpose of using these types of models was, and still is, to show the line, motion and character of the garment being created. However, this fact has been lost on many and, as a result, the focus has shifted away from the garment and onto the model, leaving the public to believe instead that these models represent the figure of the ideal woman.

    Consequently, garments have been standardized to fit this ‘ideal 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10woman’. ‘She’ is still tall with minimal dimensions. This narrow thinking has left the American woman at a loss. While most runway models are roughly 5'10", the height of the average American woman is 5'4". By apparel industry standards, 5’4” -- or the average American woman -- is considered to be petite. Couple that with the fact that many women’s bodies have curves, this short, curvaceous or ‘petite’ woman is forced onto the apparel sidelines.

    While women with a classic, model figure happily select from the volumes of apparel choices, many petite women have resigned themselves to imagining what it must be like to be tall so that they can wear the garments that don the catwalks during fashion weeks the world over. Although there are a number designers who have lines that offer petite sizes -- Ann Taylor, Jones New York, Gap, among them, the reality is that there really are only a handful of true choices with limited selections for the petite woman. The need for choices in this area persists.

    Alas, there are some among us who hear the call. Chicago area designer, Joneien Johnson has long recognized the demand in the marketplace for designer clothing that fits the petite woman with curves. Johnson’s line, Joneien Leah Design, dedicates significant attention to providing fashionable apparel choices for the petite woman. According to Johnson, “Joneien Leah is a collection of contemporary separates and dresses for the real woman. She is confident, chic, and proud of her feminine body.”

    Johnson creates a number of interesting petite apparel choices including pleated, metallic-crepe rayon-blend pencil skirts; skinny-fit tailored pants; silk-blend, swing dresses with high-low hems and bell sleeves; and asymmetric, tapered-leg pants. Her collection respectfully acknowledges the fact that many women have small waists and curvy hips, and provides a selection of fashionable, flattering, business-casual choices.

    Many pieces from her collection can be purchased in The Fashion Market's online 'bottega boutique'. Her collection may also be viewed in the Fashion Forward runway event, next month, as part of Chicago's 2013 Fall Fashion Week.

  • Nelissa Carrillo: A visionary filter in the artistic evolution of fashion design

    The art of fashion design, as is the case with all art, provides us with wonderful opportunities to expand our understanding of ourselves. Fashion design also expands our understanding of form, color, texture and their effects upon our senses. In combination, these factors play a significant role in the evolution of our species by lifting us all to a higher spiritual and cultural level. This is no small endeavor, and only few among us are suited to the task. Thankfully there are visionary designers in our midst who act as passionate servants and guides to lead us along this evolutionary path.

    Chicago’s Nelissa Carrillo, a self-proclaimed, luxury prêt-à-porter and couture designer, is one among this league of visionary designers whose goal is to connect with the inner and outer consciousness of humanity through her art.

    While many designers are sensitive to the fact that they create ‘wearable art’, Carrillo goes a step further and seeks to reach into the psyche -- the inner, partly hidden, mostly disguised layers of the self -- and enliven, vivify the subjective consciousness of the individual and the collective.

    In much the same way that many designers find, develop, and produce the creative products that shape our consciousness and transform our image of beauty, Carrillo channels energies from many sources.  Upon closer examination though, we see that she goes a bit further. A glimpse into Carrillo’s inner world can be had by visiting her website, Facebook, or YouTube pages, where one will undoubtedly bump into inspirational works of art from the likes of Veronica Beard, Zac Posen, Chela, The Stills, and The Mamas & the Papas -- a seemingly unlikely cast of characters, but all of whom act as influences upon the young designer.

    Carrillo then pushes these influences through her visionary ‘black box’ system and thereby harnesses a unique perspective from each, producing a unique vision. Her vision is reconfigured and expanded, in some instances through film or in others through painting, and then finally synthesized into the artifacts that form her prêt-à-porter or couture collection each season.

    A look at her recent film, ONYX, reveals a bit of the creative and inspirational materials -- music, environment, color, fabric -- that pass through the designer’s consciousness and serve to lift us up. According to Carrillo, a central theme at the heart of her work is in "redefining beauty as wearable art and letting the materials guide the vision".

    The fantastic products that result from this processing of energies are a gift to us. They also serve as opportunities for us to become more; to connect with our consciousness as individuals and with the collective consciousness of our world at large.

    Your opportunity to connect with Carrillo’s most recent collection may be had next month in Chicago at The Fashion Market’s Fashion Week runway event.

  • Chicago’s TherArt Jewelry: Translating inner vision to outer reality

    The amazing thing about jewelry is that it tells a story. Whether it is the engagement or wedding ring exalting the story of a couple in love; the charm bracelet heralding the significant milestones of a life well-lived; or the religious pendant which blesses, protects and inspires. The jewelry a woman wears also tells the story of what she is feeling on a particular day, or a particular moment. It defines the way she feels about herself, the story she wants people to know about her, or the image she wants to create. Jewelry allows her to create it and say it with but a moment’s notice.

    Chicago jewelry designer, Teresa Habczyk has been making pieces of wearable art with this in mind for the past four years. Her line -TherArt Jewelry, Inc - is purposeful in its diverse collections, making it easy for every woman to capture the sentiment, spirit and emotion which lies within and express it in such a way that brings complete fulfillment.

    “Although my inspiration comes from many influences, the final character of a particular piece is always dictated by woman -- her needs and beauty. I love that a woman can make a sincere statement when wearing my jewelry; I love that my jewelry can help her to feel more confident, beautiful or simply happier,“ says Teresa.

    “I give my customers a wide range of designs to choose from -- from delicate and simple to big and bold statement pieces,“ she says. Teresa’s five distinct collections, within which she creates story or statement pieces for women, are: Kashmere, Statement, Glamour, Bridal, and Eternity.

    The Kashmere Collection says beauty and femininity in an ‘everyday’ sort of way. The Statement Collection says strong and confident. It tends toward big and bold pieces. The Glamour Collection harkens back to old Hollywood and the elegance and sophistication of that era. The Bridal Collection is designed to capture and compliment a wide variety of gown styles using natural and synthetic precious and semi-precious stones. The Eternity Collection, while more delicate, speaks to contemporary sentiments. Teresa uses natural stones and precious metals in this collection to create simple, modern pieces.

     View the slideshow

    Jewelry’s story-evoking power effects not only the woman as consumer, but has also effected the designer herself. According to Teresa, “from the beginning, the concept and process of transforming stones into jewelry has struck me as magical. Over the years that magical process has redefined me, leading me from hobbyist to artist. Designing and handcrafting jewelry fills me with a sense of accomplishment, imbues me with integrity, and has proven a most amazing vehicle for translating inner vision to outer reality.”

    Teresa’s TherArt Jewelry will be available during Chicago’s fall fashion week at The Fashion Market’s Fashion Forward event.

  • Summer is in Fashion at Chicago's Randolph Street Market Festival

    If you haven't made it out to Chicago's Randolph Street Market Festival this summer, there's no question that you're missing a delightful weekend experience. The market is held the last weekend of each month from May through October and has delightfully recreated the ambiance of the classic European urban antique market -- very reminiscent of London's Portobello Road Market or Paris' Porte de Clignancourt. In addition to sumptuous food choices, hundreds of antique, vintage or craft vendors, there is also terrific live music, must-see indie apparel and accessory vendors and designers.

    After spending several hours at the market this weekend, we managed to visit AAA's Unique TreasuresClaShaSilpadakomal chaudhari,Liquid Silver, Jan Lee Design, and Mu bags. Admittedly, barely reflective of the number of interesting vendors present, it is certainly suggestive of the captivating collection of artists present.

    The two bag makers couldn't have been more enchanting. Paola Victoria's Mu Bags - made of touchably soft leathers - were alluring. A fantastic marriage of beauty and practicality in each one of the purses. Not to be outdone were the leather satchels, messenger bags, backpacks and duffel bags by komal chaudhari. The selection was both beautifully displayed and seemingly boundless. These stunning, handmade leather products were fantastic to see, smell, and feel - wonderful, sensory amusement! And because of the modest pricing, it was very easy to pick up two or more.

    Among the jewelers present were Silpada, Liquid Silver, and Jan Lee Design. Lee's Elegant Fusion Jewelry booths were beyond breathtaking! The fine quality of silver and craftsmanship in both Silpada and Liquid Silver's collections reflected unique contemporary pieces which ran the spectrum from $30 silver finds to one-of-a-kind, award-winning pieces.

    ClaSha designers, Shannon Johnson and Claudia Arroyo-Uplegger, represented one of the many market vendors who are faithful attendees. Despite very recently opening their first boutique in Elmhurst, the pair are faithful and loyal market regulars. Among the amazing volume of products that they have for sale in their store, online and at the market are baby and toddler clothing, hand-made quilts, womenswear, hats and a variety of home furnishings.

    Combine these compelling vendors with the fragrant and irresistible artisan chocolates and fresh baked breads and it was understandably difficult to check in with very many of the other terrific vendors. Thank goodness there's still time to visit. See you there in September.

     View the slideshow

  • TFM 2013 Annual Fashion Video Competition Favorites

    The Fashion Market representatives announced the four favorites selected from among the submissions to this year's TFM Annual Fashion Video Competition. This year's honorees were: Detective Barbie: Thrifter of Disguise by Laura Gladfelter ; Growing into the Brand by Sophia Bruza; Milo - The Fashion Photographer by Tim Armstrong; and Mother of 10/ Costume Designer by Nick Lang.

    "The Fashion Market's Annual Video Competition is an opportunity to celebrate the creativity of emerging videographers and filmmakers. Every year, emerging film makers and videographers will have the chance to share their vision on a particular theme as it relates to the fashion industry. The submission may be humorous, inspiring, provocative, dramatic -- any positive motif desired by the videographer." The only request is that all submissions pertain to some aspect of the fashion industry.

    The competition accepts submissions from February 1st to May 1st each year and announces honorees on July 1st.  Press here to view this year's favorite video submissions.

  • Fashion inspiration from Chicago’s NeoCon 2013

    In the art of fashion design desire for creativity compels one to scour all landscapes for ideas and inspiration. The annual 3-day contract design convention known as NeoCon hosted by Chicago’s Merchandise Mart is a terrific opportunity for inspiration. While the contract design industry primarily serves the needs of the commercial and interior designer, the products and materials are always bold, cutting-edge and an indication of what is trending. NeoCon offers so much to catch the eye that three days barely seems enough time to experience it all.

    This year, surveying NeoCon through a fashion lens, a number of manufacturer’s product lines stood out, but one in particular was 3-Form’s Full Circle. Full Circle is a brand which “brings to life undiscovered, hand-crafted materials from artisans around the world”. In their 2013 NeoCon showroom were beautiful textile fabrications of artisans from the village of Ndem in Senegal. These fabrications were encapsulated in architectural elements to make dividing walls and decorative panels. “Ndem is a great opportunity to get back to the basics of how materials used to be made with hand looms, hand spun yarn, and vegetable dyed fabrics.”

    Full Circle's collaboration with fabric artisans in Senegal

    The textures, colors and story capture the eye, the spirit and the heart. According to the manufacturer, “There is something so compelling about working with this group when you see some of the challenges they have. They depend on no electricity, their sewing machines are foot powered, the cotton gin they use had to be constructed from 17th century prototypes, even their iron is heated by coals.”

    Without a doubt, one is overcome with the desire to incorporate these hand-made fabrics into some ‘yet-unknown’ apparel or accessory creation. The possibility of engaging, cooperating and connecting with such simple, humble beauty is energizing. Inspiration found.

    Take a moment, click here, and check it out.

  • Chicago Spring Fashion Week Runway Shows have something for everyone!

    The Fashion Market’s Spring Fashion Week Event featured a variety of designers with offerings that will easily spirit you and your wardrobe right through the cool temps of Chicago spring, into the sultry climes of summertime Chi and right into the crisp conditions of fall.

    Jewelry by Rossi Cole and handbags from Sandoval Accessories coupled with apparel from Kira Cahill, Elysia Ganier, LaTonya Hubbard, Ciano Von Jo provided more than enough to outfit day and evening for those who desire the practical, the eccentric and the sensual.

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    There was no shortage of color or texture in this Spring Event! Vibrancy ruled. Sexy, feminine, playful and fun were all in attendance in these shows.

    The designers’ selections provided more than enough embellishment, shape-enhancing silhouettes, and flirty fabrics to woo and entice both the 9-to-5 set and the party girls out from their long winter’s nap. Functional wares were displayed on the runway and in the ‘bottega’ pop-up that followed.

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    Connect with the designers and their collections on The Fashion Market’s website.

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  • Early Dior-inspired Fashion is key to today’s Black Cap & Bib

    Life at the end of the 1940s was bleak. The world was exhausted from war. Attempts to rebound found us, as a nation, struggling with our communist anxieties and the enemy that was the Soviet Union. Emerging from this period of national melancholy, society longed for positive means of self expression and opportunities to embrace beauty. For this, society turns to art: Enter Dior, Fath, and Balenciaga. These designers imbued fashion with a celebration of beauty and femininity. Dior was inspired by the feminine hourglass shape and created designs which accentuated this feature. The ultra-masculine that war represents gave way to the ultra-feminine.

    Fast forward now to the 21st century and our struggles with religious extremism and global financial mayhem. As we gradually emerge from this bleak period, we find ourselves in search of opportunities to renew our ties with beauty. Enter Black Cap & Bib (BCB), a 1950s Dior-inspired line of ultra feminine apparel. BCB’s designer Kristine Campbell is a self-made artist and designer. “I create art by finding beauty in the mundane moments of everyday life -- pairing fine detail with intriguing texture. I then translate those pieces onto fabric to design 50s inspired silhouettes that are classic and timeless, with a modern edge.“

    The name, Black Cap & Bib, is taken from the Black Capped Chickadee, a North American song bird which has a black cap and bib. This chickadee characterizes resilience, ingenuity, courage and beauty. These are personal, motivating themes for designer Kristine Campbell; themes which form the basis for each of her collections. “I aspire to create beauty from the inside out, by designing artistic pieces that exude confidence in all shapes and sizes.”

    Life is filled with the dark and the light. The harsh, discordant mixture of energies that creates the dark periods must necessarily be followed by the harmonious songs and energies that represent the light. Black Cap & Bib is here to represent for us, the light.

    Campbell’s Black Cap & Bib will be featured on the runway during The Fashion Market’s Spring Fashion Week Event.