Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, July 12

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Art Thu May 21 2015

Beauty and Brains: SAIC Fashion 2015 Roundup

Last year's show

This time of year, as we happily stow away our winter gear, many of us are reconsidering our wardrobes and cheerfully putting together ensembles from skin-bearing pieces we forgot we had over the long winter. Gone are the days of black pea coats and endless itchy wool accessories. Now we can wear what we want.

In the spirit of putting a little thought into our outfits, and in celebration of the end of a school year, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago recently staged their annual runway exhibition of fashion student work, The Walk.

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Kelly Reaves

Art Thu Apr 30 2015

SAIC Annual Runway Show Introduces the Next Gen in Fashion

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago will present the 81st edition of its annual runway show for 2015. The show, presented three times in one day on Friday, May 8, at Millennium Park's Chase Promenade, will support the production of student work and scholarships in THE WALK.


The students in the SAIC Department of Fashion Design have created works that include performance, sculpture, design and installation, SAIC students have created an electrifying evening that incorporates cross-disciplines and a combination of techniques.

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S. Nicole Lane

Fashion Thu Oct 03 2013

Dose Market Now a Weekly Event

Thumbnail image for zDose Market 09.29.13-62.jpg

Photo by: Caroline Dixie.

Around two years ago stylist and blogger April Francis and a couple of her well-connected friends created Dose Market, and it instantly became one of the best places to buy artisan goods from local crafters and small businesses every month. Dose, unlike competitors such as Renegade Craft Fair, offers both new and old treasures and doesn't limit itself to just clothes or home goods--you might take home a vintage rug and a bag of gourmet chocolate or a designer dress and handmade kitchen utensils. Not to mention, some of the vendors sell items at the market that they don't sell anywhere else.

But the bazaar hit a snag when Francis' aforementioned friends Heather Sperling, Jessica Herman and Emily Fiffer, left the company last year.

"I was and still am glad to give credit to the three women for their contributions," Francis says, "but Dose is about the work the Dosers do and about delighting shoppers, it is not about the organizers and never has been for me."

Some restructuring was in order, and Francis made good use of the year off that ensued.

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Mina Bloom / Comments (1)

Art Thu Aug 01 2013

Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair at the Chicago History Museum

Exhibit curator Joy Bivins.

Eunice Johnson was a fashionista before the word was invented; she was a fashion visionary just as her husband, John H. Johnson, the founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, was a publishing visionary. She saw fashion as beauty that should not be confined to the elite and made it her personal mission to bring it to the African-American community. She did this through her direction of the Ebony Fashion Fair, known as "The World's Largest Traveling Fashion Show."

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Nancy Bishop

Fashion Tue May 14 2013

Daring Design: SAIC's Fashion Show Highlights


photo by James Atkins

Each year for 79 years now The School of the Art Institute of Chicago welcomes spring with its annual student fashion show, a celebration of conceptual and cutting edge collections for us to delight in as we thaw and shed our winter pea coats. As you might imagine from an art school, many of the garments are not so much "ready to wear" as they are physical experiments, diving head first into concept via tactile investigation. Sensible Chicago-style layers were scattered throughout the collections, juxtaposed with delightful yet completely impractical gestures -- several of the collections had the models blindly stomping down the runway with their faces completely covered, often by wigs or Zentai suits... occasionally by burka-like headgear or gas masks. As in the recent past and definitely the future, a post-apocalyptic style popped up in many collections. Perhaps it's the combination of adaptable, "ready for anything" garments and forward-thinking, futuristic design that makes the End of Days such an inspiring concept. Other trends included laser-cut acrylic accessories, iridescent and metallic fabrics, and sultry veils. Imagine 60's housewife meets manic psychedelia meets S&M cyborg. In other words, the future of fashion design is anything but conservative for many SAIC fashion students -- particularly the Juniors, who are confident enough to spill out of the box and not yet concerned with having to actually sell their work. Enjoy our favorites below:

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Kelly Reaves

Fashion Wed May 01 2013

SAIC's Fashion 2013 this Friday: Not Your Typical Runway Show

Fashion 2013 Logo.jpgImagine if the designers on "Project Runway" had semesters instead of days to complete their collections and they were encouraged to think way outside the box -- like, down the street from the box -- and come up with intricate, complete looks with solid conceptual frameworks and visual interest up the wazoo. The resulting wearable, avante-garde sculptures delight, amuse, and somehow manage to still (usually) make the models look sexy and savvy. This can all be seen live, right in front of you, at The School of the Art Institute's annual fashion show, Fashion 2013 -- because "ready to wear" is great and all, but when you're paying $75 a ticket, you want a show. And art school kids (love 'em or hate 'em) are the right people to give you one, because they've been poked and prodded by some of the most talented faculty in the world to come up with strikingly fresh designs, incorporating and combining techniques from the fields of sculpture, performance, design, technology, architecture and installation.

"Our strong team of faculty and students inspires us to advance, take more risks and follow unusual directions in order to break through to new territory," said Associate Professor Anke Loh, Sage Chair in Fashion Design. "We are poised and ready to continue to experiment with our individual and collective inquiries into fashion, body, and garment."

Fashion 2013 will be presented three times this Friday, May 3: at 9am is an open dress rehearsal. Tickets are $40. Noon and 3pm shows are general admission seating. Tickets for those shows are $75. Tickets are available now at and also at the door. Those of us interested in the future of fashion, the intersection of cutting-edge design and contemporary art or simply a breathtaking show make sure not to miss it each spring. It's worth playing hooky from work.

Kelly Reaves

Fashion Fri Nov 02 2012

On the Origin of Design: Renovar Spring 2013


Alma Weiser is a clever, thoughtful encyclopedia of knowledge. One can gleam even a fraction of her intellect and curiosity for history and design upon talking to her for a few minutes. As a fashion designer for Renovar, her past influences ranged from Louise Nevelson to Elsa Schiaparelli. Nevelson, an American sculptor of the early 20th century, created large, monochromatic, and complex sculptures. Schiaparelli, an Italian fashion designer and rival of Coco Chanel, was driven by the works and ideas of the Surrealists.

In Weiser's latest collection, "On The Origin of Species," her main point of focus is Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Low concept, she is not. In fact, what ultimately makes Weiser such a fascinating and driven designer is her dedication to history, to conceptualism, to fashion for fashion's sake. "On The Origin of Species" premieres Saturday, November 3 at Heaven Gallery.

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Britt Julious / Comments (2)

Fashion Sun Oct 21 2012

Fashion Focus Chicago Celebrates the Chicago Fashion Incubator

Fashion invaded Chicago in full force via "Fashion Focus Chicago," a week-long celebration of city's vibrant fashion industry. With a variety of runway shows, panel discussions, trunk shows and more, this showcase, now in its eighth year, supports and promotes local designers, boutique owners and other industry professionals.


Models in RFD by Rachel Frank.

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LaShawn Williams

Business Fri Oct 19 2012

Fantasy Costumes: "The Second Best Place on Earth"

Halloween is by far the best holiday for many reasons. It exists purely for fun. It is not partial to particular religion, culture, race, or what have you. Anybody can celebrate Halloween by dressing up as anything his or her heart desires. It's the one day of the year that it's socially acceptable to walk around looking like a freak show.

If you take Halloween seriously, boy do I have the place for you.

Fantasy Costumes, at 4065 N. Milwaukee Ave., certainly does Halloween justice with its impressive selection. The 18,000-square-foot store occupies an entire city block and boasts "over one million items in stock."


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Brianna Kelly / Comments (2)

Event Thu Jun 28 2012

High Design: Anna Hovet & the ROOF Runway Series

Roof 59254 (2).jpg
The idea of an emerging Chicago fashion community has been one of the inhibiting, not strengthening forces for Chicago designers. "Emerging" suggests a path from A to B or steps a community, a city must take to make it established, respected, and part of the crowd. But the true Chicago creatives think differently, if not practically. Chicago can never be the new New York on a logistical (a lack of manufacturing resources) or cultural (a lack of outlets for exposure) level. But Chicago succeeds in its ability to nurture singular designers and talents. One such designer, Anna Hovet, will present a collection of her past work at the newly-launched ROOF Runway series. Hovet's show takes place tonight, with additional shows running once a month through October 11.

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Britt Julious

Fashion Tue Jun 12 2012

The Makeup Show: Chicago

The Make-Up Show (l-r) James Vincent, Danessa Myricks, Orlando Santiago, Jon Hennessey & Esterique Aidan.

The Makeup Show--the ultimate beauty showcase for make-up artists, cosmetologists, photographers and other industry professionals--comes to town this week; read on as veteran professional make-up artist and artistic director, James Vincent, talks about the event, as well as the beauty and business of the make-up industry.

How did your career as a makeup artist begin?

I didn't ever plan it; I call myself "the accidental makeup artist." I didn't even really know makeup was a job, I mean, I knew people did it for movies and stuff but I didn't really know about it.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Culture Wed May 23 2012


Cher Horowitz walks down a hallway wearing a yellow plaid skirt and matching cropped jacket. The outfit -- part schoolgirl innocence, part precise tailoring and professional realness -- is a perfect summary of a film (and a decade) that can be best defined by its lack of classification. Clueless, a film more often recognized for its banter and "Before They Were Famous" celebrities, was radical because it refused to play by the rules. Director and writer Amy Heckerling's film based on Jane Austen's Emma was less a contemporary update and more of an independent, one-of-a-kind "world creation" of youth, debauchery, language and style.

In their first collection as THE MALL, Ready-to-Stare jewelry designer Alysse Dalessandro and vintage seller Matt Kasin (aka the Gaudy God) created and curated a an Etsy-based concept store of highly aesthetic and idea-driven handmade accessories and vintage clothing inspired by the film as well as other '90s teen cult classics such as Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and Spice World. This is not nostalgia, for nostalgia elicits a desire to return to the emotions born in a past era. Rather, THE MALL understands and utilizes the films as important cultural references that are as valuable and inspirational now as they were more than a decade ago. The two will debut their collection this Friday at a launch event at ZaZaZoo Nail Salon.

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Britt Julious

Fashion Thu Apr 26 2012

SAIC Fashion Show Recap: Editor's Picks


Photo by Sara Pieper.

Those of us who are lucky enough to go to SAIC's fashion shows each year covet them and look forward to them the way most children look forward to their birthdays. There are good art shows and there are bad art shows, there are good concerts and bad concerts, but usually even the best ones drag a bit and are slightly dissatisfying. I'm not gonna lie, the SAIC fashion shows are the only big, serious fashion shows I've been to, so I'm no authority on the matter. But I've seen quite a lot of "Project Runway" -- and this makes that look like child's play. I challenge even those who are the most ambivalent about fashion to go to one of these shows and not scoot to the front edge of their seats during the show with a string of drool hanging from their delightfully awestruck mouths.

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Kelly Reaves / Comments (2)

Culture Fri Apr 20 2012

In the 'ThYck' of Things: The ThYck Troupe of Chicago

For Tressa Thomas, founder and artistic director of the ThYck Troupe Organization, when it comes to the treatment of full-figured women in arts and entertainment, the industry still has a way to go. "Hollywood is still not ready to embrace the potential of the full-figured market," said Thomas. "I'm starting to see the winds of change come, though." Here, the model, singer and actress talks about the organization, its mission to eradicate negative images of plus-sized women, and her connection to a certain Chicago-born filmmaker and director.


ThYck Troupe; Photo Credit: David Shepherd Photography.

How you did you get your start in the entertainment industry?

I've been in the entertainment industry ever since I was about 5-years-old. I started out singing and had my first live band by the time I was seven and was in my first feature film by the time I was eleven.

You had a live band when you were only seven?

Yes, I did. It was a trio, actually. I did live performances at probably every festival and outdoor concert in Chicago for about three or four summers straight. My mom really got me out there and helped me build my chops as a singer because I was singing all over the place. That was kind of how my career started and of course, I started to garner attention because of that, and the rest is history.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Fashion Tue Apr 17 2012

Hot Dada Runway

fashion2012_sidebar.jpegThe School of the Art Institute of Chicago's annual fashion show -- probably the tastiest treat for your eyes in Chicago all year -- is taking place this Thursday in Millennium Park. This year's show, featuring more than 300 garments from SAIC's Fashion Design BFA candidates showcased by more than 70 hot and sexy professional models, will be the largest ever in the show's 78-year history. It will conclude with the elaborate and diverse creations of more than 40 seniors, the largest graduating class in SAIC Fashion Design history.

I was able to go last year (and I'll be posting all about this year's show here next week) and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor at the end of the show. While some of the designs are just okay, and most of them are not "ready to wear," the vision and spark that these shows feature is astounding. This is SAIC, people. Nobody's cutting corners or playing it safe. Who says Chicago doesn't know fashion? It's right in front of us, slapping us in the face at this show. I highly recommend you pick up a ticket immediately.

Tickets aren't cheap, though. The 9am dress rehearsal will run you $40. The noon and 3pm shows are $75, and admissions to the super hot-shit evening gala, "THE WALK" (which includes cocktails and dinner) costs a steep $500. BUT, it is a benefit, with proceeds supporting scholarship funds for future visionaries. For tickets and more information, visit SAIC's site. For Mia DiMeo's coverage of last year's show, click here.

Kelly Reaves

Television Mon Apr 16 2012

Da Brat: Stylin' and Profilin'

Chicago native Da Brat has always been known for her tomboyish appearance, sporting everything over the years from oversized t-shirts to baggy jeans to baseball caps to bandanas; with the exception of a few music videos, magazine spreads and awards show appearances during her heyday, the rapper has always been more than reluctant to show--or embrace--her girly side.

Working to craft a new look in an effort to restore her self-esteem and help get her career back on track in the fiercely competitive hip-hop industry, celebrity fashion stylist June Ambrose gives the rapper a complete style makeover in her VH1 reality series, "Styled by June." In the half-hour episode, which airs tonight at 8:30pm, it becomes obvious early on that Da Brat is one of Ambrose's more challenging clients. Click below for a sneak peek:

Styled By June - Styled By June

LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Fashion Fri Mar 09 2012

Chicago Fashion Foundation: "Future of Chicago Fashion"

The Chicago Cultural Center recently hosted the Chicago Fashion Foundation's (CFF) celebration of the fashion community with "Future of Chicago Fashion," its annual scholarship award benefit. The CFF, a non-profit organization that "supports the fashion industry in Chicago including student designers, Chicago fashion designers and anyone who is involved with the fashion industry in Chicago," held a design competition, which included a runway fashion show, to recognize student designers in the city.


Model in design by Elena Bobysheva; Photo by Charles Jackson.

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LaShawn Williams

Fashion Sun Mar 04 2012

Interview with Barbara Bates: Chicago's "Fashion Star"

Barbara Bates; Photo by John Russo/NBC.

Barbara Bates is "taking her talents" to Los Angeles; a fashion industry staple for 25 years, this Chicago-based designer will compete against 13 other designers in the new reality series "Fashion Star," hosted by Elle Macpherson, premiering March 13 on NBC. Here, Bates talks about fashion, her newfound love for reality shows, and how she wouldn't mind joining the ranks of another Chicago-born former reality show star.

You're a self-taught designer--when did you know you had a talent for designing? Was it a particular piece you created or did someone tell you that you were good?

I can't really say there was I time when I said, "Hey, I got it goin' on." Even though I've been doing this for 25 years, everyday is a new day and something new comes along. I'm never that confident; I mean, I love when people buy from and shop with me--that's like the best compliment ever--but I always know how life can take a turn. I'm always humble, so I can't say there was never a moment.

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LaShawn Williams

Fashion Mon Feb 13 2012

Heart of Man: Fashion, Finance & Philanthropy


For Marcus Noel, fashion is more than just about style and appearance--it's also a movement. Here, the Maryland native (now residing in Chicago) and former JP Morgan Chase financial analyst talks about Heart of Man, his fashion line with a purpose: helping and mentoring disadvantaged youth.

Professionally, you have a finance background--when did you leave that industry to pursue fashion full-time?

I went to Morehouse College and studied finance. I took a trip to Beijing, China in my senior year and when I was over there, I saw the level of poverty. I spent a lot of time in their silk market where there is tons of garment production and fell in love with that process.Two years ago, I was sitting in my room and noticed I had lots of sweaters and thought to myself, "What if I made my own sweater?" But then I later thought if I made my own sweaters, I wanted to have a social factor to it.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Fashion Mon Dec 19 2011

Models and Music: Surround Sound of Fashion

Singer/actor Tyrese; Surround Sound of Fashion.

The symbiotic relationship between fashion and music is undeniable -- and at Power 92's Surround Sound of Fashion, the two were definitely displayed in a big way.

This annual showcase for fashion designers and aspiring models, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Windows of Opportunity, an organization that provides scholarships for economically disadvantaged youth, was held last weekend at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph. Twenty male and female models competed in a runway show for a chance at a number of prizes, including an exclusive photo shoot.

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LaShawn Williams

Fashion Wed Sep 14 2011

The Evolution: Fashion Goes Green

For fashion with a twist, don't miss "The Evolution," the ultimate fashion event celebrating "the journey of every woman." This fashion extravaganza, hosted by WCIU-26 personality Art "ChatDaddy" Sims, will showcase designs by several local designers including GOCA Designs, The Double Stitch Twins, Fraley Le and Bouye Designs.

What makes this fashion show different is the "The Green Carpet Fashion Show," a virtual display of designs via a green screen. With this technology, audience members can join in the action by experiencing a live, virtual runway show, with guests getting the chance to join in the action by taking photos against the backdrop of Chicago's skyline. Live runway models are also part of this fashion experience.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (1)

Event Wed Sep 07 2011

Fashion's Night Out Hits Chicago

Although Fashion's Night Out began in New York City, the event has quickly spread across the country as a way to celebrate the artistry of the designer and the return of fall. Chicago's Fashion's Night Out promises to be the most eclectic and broad celebration the city has seen (especially with celebrations at new British arrivals such as AllSaints and Topshop). Below are some recommended events taking place tomorrow in the city, beginning tomorrow at 6pm. More information about Fashion's Night Out and additional events taking place throughout the city is available here.

Fame, Fashion & Flavor: 900's Night Out
900 North Michigan Shops
This event -- hosted by Brad Gorecki of The Rachel Zoe Project -- includes a beauty bazaar with mini manicures, massages, eyelash extensions, brow waxing, and hair styling from Mario Tricoci Hair Salon & Day Spa and Bloomingdale's. Guests may also taste food from local restaurants such as prasino and Cibo Matto and craft beers from BridgePort Brewing Company and Trumer Pils. Additional activities include personal styling, a photo booth, and a flash fashion show with clothing from Mark Shale and Bloomingdale's, among others.

AllSaints Chicago
700 N. Michigan Ave.
Featuring DJ Avi Sic, this celebration at the newly opened British import includes complimentary cocktails from Tanteo, the chance to create digital flipbooks, and a 20 percent discount on items throughout the store.

935 N. Michigan Ave.
Guests can pick up the newest CHANEL Nail Colour Collection, Les Jeans de Chanel -- created exclusively for Fashion's Night Out by Peter Philips, Creative Director of CHANEL Makeup. These colors, inspired by traditional denim fabric, will be offered along with complimentary mini manicures.

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Britt Julious / Comments (1)

Art Thu Sep 01 2011

What's Happening with Jettison Quarterly

Local online and print art publication Jettison Quarterly made a splash at NEXT as part of the larger Art Chicago weekend with their newly formatted print edition of the magazine. Their latest issue -- featuring artist Scott Reeder and former MCA curator Tricia Van Eck -- promises to deliver on locally focused news, art and culture. To celebrate their latest release, the publication will be joining Old Style and Longman & Eagle for a free block party on Kedzie and Schubert. The event will feature a pig roast and dance party with tunes spun by DJs from the ever-popular Windy City Soul Club. The What's Happening!! block party takes place this Sunday, September 4 from 4pm to 10pm.

Additional copies of Jettison Quarterly will be available Sept. 9 at the Kavi Gupta gallery as part of the opening night for the fall art season, the Renegade Craft Fair on Sept. 10-11, and at various cafes and venues in the city.

Britt Julious

Fashion Sun Jul 03 2011

Chicago Global Runway

Fashion is truly a part of Chicago's cultural landscape; from flashy, upscale boutiques to local fashionistas, the city has definitely made its mark in the world of fashion.


Sahar Dada design; photo by Rahul Rana.

Recently, at the Chicago Cultural Center, fashion lovers experienced the first ever Chicago Global Runway, which showcased amazing South Asian-inspired fashion by both local and international designers, including Chicago's own Sahar Dada. Dada, whose modern, trendy designs adorned the runway, has always loved creating with fashion. "When you design, you want to do any and everything," she said.

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LaShawn Williams

Fashion Thu Jun 23 2011

A Luxury Pop-Up Shop

For the vintage-oriented fashion fan, Chicago has finally started to host a round of exclusive pop-up shops, group sales, and special events to cater to this ever-growing market. Cult-favorite independent boutique Sofia is one of the city's most reliable sources for that perfect combination of contemporary labels and high-crafted vintage statement pieces.

For their latest event, the store welcomes Luxury Garage Sale for a pop-up store inside of the boutique. Luxury Garage Sale features new or gently used contemporary and designer clothing, artwork, and other items for the home. Featuring designer clothing, jewelry, and handbags, the sale begins today and lasts through Sunday at 5pm.

Sofia is located at 72 East Oak Street. The store is open 11am to 7pm, Thursday through Saturday, and on Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.

Britt Julious

Art Tue Jun 14 2011

Here is Where: New Works at Sullivan Galleries

Calendar Listing Image  - loaded_daniel_whiteneck_3.jpg

Daniel R. Whiteneck

On the seventh floor of the former Carson Pirie Scott building, the graduating students from the School of the Art Institute's Departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO), and Fashion, presented works befitting the classic Louis Sullivan-designed building. Aesthetically speaking, their designs and concepts - ranging from mobile food cart projects to illuminated public art works to multi-functional furniture - are a far cry from Sullivan's steel-framed Chicago landmark. But the goals of the students' designs, often touching upon ideas of recycling, conservation of resources, and streamlined communication, were grounded in multi-generational sustainability.

"It was a chance to do something really beautiful, really challenging, and a challenge for myself," said Alysse Filipek (BFA 2013), the Grand Prize winner of the Designers of Tomorrow competition. Filipek's work addresses both her personal history in Southern California and her reaction to the harsh, Seasonal Affective Disorder-creating winters of Chicago.

Other works on view include LOADED: SAIC in Milan, originally presented during the 2011 Milan International Furniture Fair; Industry Partners: Living in a Smart City; a five-year GFRY Design Studio retrospective; and Where is Where, the graduate thesis exhibition.

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Britt Julious

Fashion Tue May 10 2011

The Walk 2011: Fashion at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

This article was submitted by Mia DiMeo. All photos courtesy of Elaine Li. For a complete collection of her photos from the fashion show, visit her Facebook albums: Sohpmore/Junior Collections and Senior Collection.


Over the sound of thunder and sheets of rain beating down on the tent in Millennium Park last Thursday, Sally Singer, Editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine said she doesn't believe fashion is always art. I'm not going to wrangle with the whole "what constitutes art?" question right now, but I saw some in the garments on the runway at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's four-show, all-day fashion extravaganza. As the student work paraded by in an over-stimulating blur, and I joining the crowd of craned necks, struggling to take in the construction and color and texture as it presented itself on model after gaunt model.

An interesting element to the show this year was the Swarovski Crystals sponsorship, showing itself in the bedazzlement of some garments. I'll try not to be too bias towards the sparkly, but here's some of my favorites from the show. These are the designers that I think produced fashion that is unquestionably art--some art that I'd like to see hanging in my closet.

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Fashion Mon May 09 2011

Interview: The Double Stitch Twins

Thumbnail image for DSTWINS.jpg

Chicago's Erika and Monika Simmons, aka "Double Stitch Twins," take crochet to another level; with their contemporary take on a classic craft, these models, designers, authors and entrepreneurs prove that crochet fashion can be both funky and fun. Here, the winners of the Crochet Liberation Front's 2011 Flamie Award for "Best Crochet Designer for Accessories" discuss giving back to the community, Chicago fashion and which famous legendary singer they'd love to see wear their designs.

You learned to crochet when you were just 10 yrs old--how did that come about?

Erika: Our teacher taught us in an after school program in the fourth grade.

Typically, when people hear the word "crochet," visions of "grandma" appear--did you hear that a lot when you were first getting started?

Monika: People always asked us if our mom or grandma taught us how to crochet. Actually, no one in our family that we know of can crochet.

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (2)

Fashion Thu Apr 14 2011

The Grid: Textile Discount Outlet

Textile Discount Outlet, located at 2121 w. 21st Street, has helped sustain Chicago's creative classes with discounted fabrics and inspiration for over 30 years.

About The Grid

The Grid is a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. These short, lyrical documentaries aspire to be art cinema, ethnographies and experiments in form. Ben Kolak and Brian Ashby's directorial debut, Scrappers, won Best Documentary at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival and made Roger Ebert's top 10 list of documentary films in 2010. Editor Dave Nagel is a recent University of Chicago graduate.

David Schalliol / Comments (1)

Fashion Wed Mar 30 2011

Fierce Competition at Kenmore Live Studio's "So You Wanna Be a Designer?"

This story was submitted by freelance writer Christopher Gray. Photos courtesy of Kenmore Live Studio.

Some traveled down the path of fashion from the very beginning.

"I started designing things for my Barbie — I thought her clothes were ugly," said Tonya Pierce.

Others took long detours before ditching their careers to follow their bliss.

'So You Wanna Be a Designer?' at Kenmore Live Studio, Chicago
(from left) Fashion designers LaTonya Williams, Stephen Curd and Tonya Pierce
compete on "So You Wanna Be a Designer?" at Kenmore Live Studio.

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A/C / Comments (5)

Art Thu Mar 10 2011

Local Love


painting by Charlie Megna

Do you remember the profile I wrote of Charlie Megna last year? No?

Well this kid's got spirit, and in the year since that profile was written his work has developed into some INSANE s*%t. He has progressed from painting pigeons and two-flats to battles between tube-sock wearing devil children with rainbow juice for blood. I guess that's just what happens when you lock yourself up in a studio with a bunch of toxic chemicals every day for an extended period of time.

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Kelly Reaves / Comments (1)

Feature Thu Feb 03 2011

Deciphering the Chicago Look


All photos by Isa Giallorenzo, used with permission.

It's all about the details. A great outfit is comprised not only of fashionable, quality clothing, but also the personal touches-- a perfectly folded cuff, a slew of gold buttons-- that distinguish one pretty young thing from the rest. On her popular street style blog, Chicago Looks, Brazilian-native Isa Giallorenzo hunts down the stylistically distinguishable Chicagoans roaming the galleries, music festivals, and vintage fashion sales that litter the neighborhoods. In one photograph, a young Black man's hair is wrapped and tied in a brown turban. He leans against a stone wall, hands stuffed within the pockets of loose army green pants as his chest, covered in a salmon pink t-shirt and thick suspenders, is thrust out proudly. In another snapshot, a twenty-something woman stays warm in a dramatically long blue coat seemingly cut to compliment the white-blonde bangs that nearly cover her eyes. Each photograph is a portrait of Chicago, a moment of time documenting one person in a city of millions.

Giallorenzo works not unlike a documentarian. She takes not only full-body shots but also close-ups of the little details that make an outfit pop. It is no surprise then to learn that the photographer comes from a journalism background. The role of a street style photographer entails investigating a look. The image is a form of storytelling as well as the answer to an abundance of questions: Why does this outfit work when others don't? Does the person make the style, or vice versa? Can anyone really pull off that look?

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Britt Julious / Comments (1)

Feature Fri Jan 21 2011

Strike a Pose: Chicago's Thriving Underground Ball Scene

This story was submitted by Rachel Rabbit White. All photos by Edmund X. White.


It's a snowy December night on the South Side and the ballroom has filled up quickly. There are guys in tailored suits, girls in red-heeled Louboutins. There are pop-gothy capes and futuristic glasses. The crowd is gathered around a catwalk -- and everyone is young, black and queer.

This is a ball. An underground LGBTQ contest where participants compete by "walking" -- showing off themed outfits and voguing -- a stylized house dance that continues to evolve. They are competing for trophies and the hope to become "legendary" -- famous not only in Chicago but the entire community, which now spans the globe. Balls found fame with Paris is Burning, a documentary about the New York scene, but Chicago's had its own ball circuit for as long as New York -- one that has its own trends, culture and history. And as the Internet popularizes the community, Chicago is seeing another wave in the resurgence of balls.

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A/C / Comments (5)

Fashion Thu Dec 09 2010

One-Stop Pop-Up Shop: DRUNK MALL


Alysse Dalessandro, Matt Kasin, Kirsten Kilponen, Benjamin Bradshaw

What is the aesthetic underground if not constantly evolving? For members of the "vintage underground," this constant evolution concerns space and the possibilities one venue can provide in telling stories of design and style.

The participants in this Friday's DRUNK MALL (Bummer Town, The Gaudy God, Jenstyle, SisterMan, and The Sometimes Store) curate a crafty collection of vintage goods pulled from the stylistically-unique '80s and '90s. Their choices are attuned to the wants of post-modern vintage hunters whose tastes are more than just jeans and a white t-shirt.

DRUNK MALL is not the first event of its kind, and it is the roaming spirit of the event that best defines the idea of the current "vintage underground." The past year included a noticeable increase in these curated, collective, community sales at parties, trunk shows, fashion presentations, and gay night clubs. The attention to vintage wear fits along with the sporadic nature of these events.

"Shopping for vintage is like shopping handmade -- people like this idea of owning something unique and hand-selected rather than buying mass-produced goods," said Alysse Dalessandro, co-owner of The Sometimes Store. And like the items they sell, these sales are one-off events, not permanent fixtures. Blink and you'll miss it.

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Britt Julious

Feature Fri Dec 03 2010

Hungry and Driven: Unearthing the Emerging Chicago Fashion Community

Sometimes the fashion shows take place in abandoned warehouses on the West Side or in third floor fledgling art galleries in Wicker Park. Occasionally, someone will clear out the knick knacks and sketch pads they normally scatter across the battered love seats of their first apartments in the city. The point, it seems, for a new crop of young designers, is to prove that there is some form of community (albeit smaller and certainly less competitive) in Chicago in a similar vein to more established design cities like New York or Los Angeles. If there are designs to be shown, a venue can be found--or created--to showcase a young designers work.

Every fall, the events of Chicago Fashion Focus primarily take place in the Macy's on State Street or in elaborately constructed tents in Millennium Park. The number of shows, usually less than 10, are a far cry from the fashion week events in smaller cities such as Miami or Minneapolis, and in no way compare to the extravaganza known as New York Fashion Week. With the demise of GenArt, the opportunities for local emerging designers to showcase their work during Fashion Focus is even less than during the event's first fledgling years in the early aughts. The results of this post-Gen Art era in the Chicago fashion scene has been ignored, or largely disjointed. For young designers obtaining their degrees from local art colleges such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, and the Illinois Institute of Art, the disconnect between their academic pursuits and the communities or opportunities available has been a wake-up call and the inspiration to pursue more DIY-generated opportunities for exposure and experience.

In the spirit of this DIY-ethos, Carmen McGhee and Aris Sergakis, two fashion design students from the Illinois Institute of Art, came together to produce "UNEARTHED," an evening dedicated to the young emerging fashion designers of the city.

from left: McGhee and Sergakis

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Britt Julious / Comments (2)

Fashion Thu Oct 21 2010

Fashion in Chicago: an interview with Alma Weiser of Renovar

Alma Weiser, the self-described "mother" of Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park, is also a local fashion designer whose inspirations range from Japanese anti-fashion designers of the 80s to the aesthetics of futurism. Her latest collection, Irregular a fashion homage by Renovar, premieres this Saturday at Heaven Gallery (1550 N Milwaukee, 2nd floor). Below, Weiser discusses her background, inspiration, goals for the future, and why a cute vintage dress dress is beneficial for more people than one would assume.

What were your inspirations?
I'm really inspired by Japanese designers. They're incredible. The work that they do is art. When I decided what I was going to do my next collection on, I just thought, "Japanese!" In the early 1980s, Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo and Yamamoto, they basically took Paris by storm. It was this whole movement that was anti-fashion. It wasn't this beautiful, form-fitting clothing anymore, showing the natural silhouette of the woman. It was more about the clothes being a second skin. It was just incredible. They came at the perfect moment. That's how movements are made. Somebody's doing something, and then that movement comes, and they're doing it simultaneously. I always admire when that happens. It's also about re-thinking your clothes, being as creative as possible as you can with the clothes. The image of Comme de Garcons is wearable art for the most thought-provoking, interesting, clothing you can think of.

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Britt Julious / Comments (1)

Fashion Thu Oct 21 2010

Fashion Focus Chicago Kicks Off With Chicago Fashion Incubator

Despite the autumnal chill in the air Tuesday night at the opening show of this year's Fashion Focus Chicago, spring was swirling on stage. The Chicago Fashion Incubator Designers Past and Present, presented by Macy's, in conjunction with CS Magazine, showcased thirteen, up and coming Chicago designers. The collections were rife with preppy yacht-wear and flowery dresses, bouncing down the runway to dance tunes.

Although some predictability took hold at the start of the show, Agga B.'s first piece changed the tempo of the whole room and was the first to incite applause at the offset. The jagged mini dresses possessed origami inspired shapes and playful cutouts, and managed to make black a suddenly refreshing color.

Miriam Cecilia wrapped up the show with two stunning ball gowns. The soft pastels and cloud-like skirts had the audience ooo-ing and aaa-ing like a princess was entering the room.

This introduction of fresh faces and growing designers was a fitting way to kick off the sixth annual Fashion Focus Chicago, which runs until October 24th . So bundle up in your finest fall coat and enjoy this weeklong taste of spring fashion before Chicago freezes over.

Britany Robinson

Event Fri Jul 02 2010

Threadless Turns 10, Takes Tour

Threadless Everywhere tour trailer

Threadless Everywhere tour trailerLocal designer t-shirt phenomenon Threadless is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a two-month tour of the country -- and Canada! -- in a custom Airstream and van.

The tour kicks off with a party today at Threadless HQ, 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave., from 2 to 5pm. Check out the trailer, draw on the city mural, and enjoy Flirty Cupcakes, games and prizes -- including four VIP passes to Pitchfork Music Festival and cool 10th anniversary swag bags.

After the send-off, the trailer's headed to San Francisco, LA and down to San Diego for Comic-Con. On Sept. 11 it'll roll through Chicago for the fourth annual Threadless Family Reunion at the Bottom Lounge -- to which you're invited. From there, it's off to Canada and the East Coast through early October. There's an anniversary party and book release planned, again at Bottom Lounge, for Oct. 10 (get it? 10/10/10!) with details to come.

Andrew Huff

Fashion Fri Apr 30 2010

Fashion Chicago Shows Off Hometown Talents


From Elise Bergman's Spring Collection hosted Fashion Chicago: Exclusive Shopping Event yesterday afternoon in the trendy River North neighborhood. Women in their 20s and 30s, dressed in their warm weather best, formed a long line to get into the makeshift boutique on Huron St. Within the small, not to mention sweltering, space were tables and racks that displayed jewelry and clothing by Chicago designers. Smart Water, Fuze, wine and cocktails were handy for cooling down and caterers wove in and out with appetizers from Nacional 27 and Ra Sushi.

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Whitney Stoepel / Comments (1)

Art Thu Apr 29 2010

Art Up the Wazoo

The biggest annual art fair in Chicago, a combination of Art Chicago and NEXT , collectively referred to as Artropolis, starts this weekend at the Merchandise Mart. Just about every gallery in Chicago (and a bunch from the rest of the world) has a booth set up to showcase their artist's latest and greatest. The fair offers curators, collectors, artists and art enthusiasts a comprehensive survey of current and historic work, from cutting-edge to modern masters in a wide variety of media including: painting, photography, drawings, prints, sculpture, video and installations.

The show will be open to the public Friday through Monday, starting at 11am. Tickets range from $15 to $25 depending on who you are (i.e. student, senior, or regular person) and if you want a day pass or a pass for the whole weekend. Click here to check out a slide show of last year's fair to get an idea of what you're getting yourself into. Click here for more information.

Also worth mentioning, The School of the Art Institute is doing what seems to be a sort of guerilla-style "fashion invasion" this afternoon (at 12:30) at Millenium Park and tonight (at 7) at the Artropolis preview at the Merchandise Mart.

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Kelly Reaves

Art Tue Apr 20 2010

Don't Miss Version Fest

version10.jpgThe illustrious Version festival starts this Thursday with Territories, a group exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center. Also, starting that night at midnight Version fest presents six episodes of experimental television featuring works submitted to this year's festival. Watch every night of the festival at midnight to view a 30 minute episode on Chicago Cable Access Channel 19 (CANTV).

On Friday the opening party for Version Festival kicks off at 8pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, promising more unabashed creativity and wild rock and roll than any one human being could hope to completely absorb in one night. The meat and potatoes of the show Friday will most likely be the live music by amazing local acts including Mahjongg, Brilliant Pebbles, and Mr666 (among others), but the show will be garnished by art and entertainment by Telefantasy Studios-- a group of artists specializing in Sci-Fi/fantasy film productions who claim that their aim is to "transport people to realms never before imagined and to tell heroic stories with dazzling special effects." For the Version fest opening party they will create a temporary soundstage for performance, and they want everyone to come in costume as a Sci-Fi/fantasy character to be filmed, photographed, interviewed, and auditioned.

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Kelly Reaves

Fashion Thu Mar 18 2010

Designing the Perfect Commuter Friendly Shirt

nonetheless.jpgLocal designer Jonathan Shaun has a bit of an on-again, off-again relationship with fashion design. Not so much because he doesn't love his job, having worked with eco-friendly designers Nau, Topo Ranch and Connect Chicago, but rather he's constantly in search of inspiration.

But in his journey, Shaun noticed something was missing.

He wanted a commuter-friendly dress shirt you could take from the bike to the boardroom, then maybe out later for drinks. The ultimate performance dress shirt. One that didn't compromise on aesthetics and high-end tailoring, but still offered freedom of movement and breathability.

"It's what I call a less-is-more philosophy," Shaun says. And that's what he created here in Chicago.

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John Lendman

Fashion Mon Mar 15 2010

Harvey Star Washington's "Paparazzi"

For Harvey Star Washington, modeling is more than just fashion, make-up and strutting on the runway--it is also about giving back. At "Paparazzi," held Sunday at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom, this fashion show producer extraordinaire treated the audience to a high-energy show that was full of glitz, glamour and giving back.

Washington, a 30-plus year veteran in the fashion and modeling industry, has seen his fair share of changes, most notably with the presence of full-figured models. A staunch advocate for "women of size," Washington feels the time has now come to embrace them. "Full-figured women are more in the forefront now, and that is something that was overdue; it's time for people to really take notice of them," he said. "Just because you're full-figured, it doesn't mean you can't feel good about who you are."

Giving back is very important to Washington; in fact, he works pro bono with new models, allowing them an opportunity to create and build a work portfolio. "I like working with women who have never had the opportunity to model," he said.

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LaShawn Williams

Design Wed Feb 03 2010

Chainlink Jersey Winner Announced

Picture 5.png

Image courtesy of Crank the Earth
The Chainlink: Chicago Online Bicycling Community, announced the winner of their jersey design contest today. The jersey (pictured above) is called "Chicago Pride" and was designed by Ross Felten. The short-sleeved jersey will be available at Crank the Earth. The Chainlink says it will be available in March and Crank the Earth says it will be available in April so keep a look out.

Whitney Stoepel

Fashion Wed Oct 21 2009

Step into Project Runway

Get your foot in the fashion industry door. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 16 for The Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's on State Street. Six designers will be selected to learn about the fashion business, including the marketing and merchandising, from industry experts. The icing on the cake is the sample production, showroom and office space at Macy's on State Street that the winning designers will get for one year starting March 2010. The incubator, sponsored by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, will also offer space for workshops and seminars for the local fashion community.

Find the application at and email yours to Winners will be announced at the end of December 2009.

Margo O'Hara

Art Wed Sep 30 2009

The Cat IS the Hat

cathat.jpgIf you were at the West Loop gallery openings on Sept. 11, you may have noticed a girl walking around with a dead cat on her head. As it turns out, the girl is an artist, an MFA student at UIC, and her name is Rebecca Beachy. The cat hat is one of her new pieces. I paid her a studio visit last week, and we talked about her work.

Kelly Reaves: Did you know that if you google "West Loop gallery openings," one of the first things that comes up is Alicia Eler's post on Chicago Now about you and your taxidermied cat hat?

Rebecca Beachy: Yeah, I saw that but I didn't know that it comes up when you google the art openings.

KR: Yep. You were at number three the first time I checked it but today you've moved up to the top. And your hat was also mentioned in an article on Art Talk Chicago about the openings. So I think it was a hit. How did you come up with the idea to make the hat?

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Kelly Reaves / Comments (20)

Fashion Sat Mar 21 2009

NYT: Chicago, City of Angles

The New York Times writes about Chicago's newfound confidence in the world of fashion.

Carl Giometti

Fashion Fri Mar 20 2009

Vegan Haute Couture from the Windy City

The folks over at Green Exchange recently interviewed local clothing designer Leanne Hilgart of Vaute Couture about the business of ecologically sensitive clothing, as well as her inspirations and inclusion in the Exchange.

David Schalliol

Dance Sun Aug 24 2008

DE-evolution of MUDWOMAN

We could get into a long conversation on the subject of why I'm not usually drawn to dance that promises to "de-mystify" and "de-titillate" the "objectification of women." But when Breakbone DanceCo promises to mock themselves, mock a lot of the heavy-handed social commentary out there, and encourage the audience to laugh during this de-titillation, my interest is piqued. The "De-evolution of MUDWOMAN (an evening of dance exile, fashion, and humor)" begins with a "superficial poptart diva"--representing today's female role models--who de-evolves into the primordial female, complete with head-to-toe mud. The show is filled with entertainment, including a couture fashion show and videography, and is punctuated by commentary from three "expositors" who critique the goings-on throughout the evening.

Breakbone uses a unique, athletic style, and the MUDWOMAN choreography explores a movement-as-language standpoint with diverse sources, from sign language to "primal body posturing" to more standard dance techniques. The concert features work by award-winning choreographers Colleen Halloran and Atalee Judy, and former Hubbard Street Chicago dancer Cheryl Mann.

So if you want to participate in a high-energy and humorous journey toward the appreciation of the female form in its "most beautiful, raw, and primal state," go check out Breakbone at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago. It's running for two more weeks: August 28, 29, 30, and September 4, 5, 6, all shows at 9:00. $18 ($15 students and seniors). Click here for tickets or visit Breakbone's website for more information.

Rachel Zanders

Fashion Wed Apr 23 2008

Cancelled? Delayed? Kinda Happening.

Chicago Fashion Week, a privately run fashion show, decided on Thursday to delay the show by months, despite the fact it was supposed to begin today. Obviously upset, four designers are putting on a show anyway today at 7 p.m. near the grand ballroom at Navy Pier.

David Schalliol

GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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