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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chicago Looks IRL

Remember to get your Chicago Reader and Newcity this weekend!

Opportunities, updates and events at the Chicago Fashion Incubator

Message from the Chicago Fashion Incubator:


Please Join Us in Welcoming Our New Executive Director, Tonya Gross!

Tonya Gross joins the CFI after the City of Chicago's fashion initiative, Fashion Focus Chicago, and her role as Fashion Director with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, were de-funded. Tonya brings deep experience in public programming, community engagement, small business development, and program and project management to the CFI. Tonya is the Creative Director of tonya gross millinery and Chicago Creative Consultants, LLC.

Tonya will be hosting a new salon series, D2D (designer-to-designer,) as a forum to connect designers to share best practices and build solutions that make an impact to the Chicago fashion industry beginning in 2017. Stay tuned! Want to connect/reconnect with Tonya? Email:


The 2017-2019 Designer In Residence Program Application Is Now Open!

Current DIR (left to right): Shruti Kirti, Anna Brown, Gabrielle Zwick, Conner Writt, Liz Bahl and Masha Titievsky

The Chicago Fashion Incubator Designer in Residence (DIR) is a two-year design and business development program for up to six apparel and (soft) accessories designers. The DIR are provided a creative professional environment to foster and grow their businesses. By offering low-cost design studio space, business mentoring, educational seminars, and networking opportunities, the CFI's DIR program provides a way for designers to work with business and design mentors to assess needs; develop design and business skills, resources and networks to become an integral part of the Chicago fashion community; and develop latitudes to reach global markets. The next cycle begins March 1, 2017 through February 28, 2019.

Applicants seeking consideration for entry to the DIR program at the Chicago Fashion Incubator must submit a FULLY COMPLETED application and pay a non-refundable $100.00 application fee, and meet all of the following criteria:
- be 21 years of age or older by the application deadline date
- design apparel and/or (soft) accessories for women and/or men
- established a main residence in the Greater Chicago area before March 1, 2017
- hold a City of Chicago business license or an application in process
- able to commit to the CFI DIR program including a minimum of 30 hours in the studio Monday - Friday during regular business hours
- attend scheduled 1/1 mentor sessions, seminars, and CFI media events, info sessions, and programs
- hold a Bachelor's degree in a fashion or fashion-related field is strongly preferred

The application is open until Sunday, December 4, 2016, 4:59pm CT. Selected designers to be announced the 3rd week of January 2017.

RSVP to attend one of the DIR application information sessions in November and apply at our website!


Upcoming Public Programs

Global fashion brands are developing a "see now, buy now" program, moving away from two season collections. This means the cycle of production (and marketing plan) is adapted for a more rapid production of apparel and accessories to make product immediately available online and in stores. Jane Hamill of Fashion Brain Academy will show you 3 alternative ways to run your fashion business in this business climate. Immediately following this program, join the Life Creative team for a tour of this incredible new shared maker and meeting space created by Event Creative and Venue One! November 4, 8:30-10am. $35 fee includes handouts and a light breakfast.

RSVP for 3 Alternative Ways to Run Your Fashion Business for the "See Now, Buy Now" Consumer


2017 DCASE Individual Artists Program (IAP)
Grants Information Session for Fashion Applicants

The Chicago Fashion Incubator is hosting a free Applicant Assistance workshop for the 2017 DCASE Individual Artists Program (IAP.) Join the CFI and DCASE and learn the grants process and how to prepare an application and address specific questions and topics related to funding a fashion-specific project or professional development Wednesday, November 16, 6-8pm at Life Creative. This is a FREE program. You must attend an Applicant Assistance Session as part of the grants application process.

Workshops will review updates to grant guidelines and eligibility requirements, review criteria and provide guidance to help applicants prepare the strongest, most competitive applications. Following the presentation, there will be time for applicants to speak with DCASE staff and ask questions.
IAP guidelines will be available at on November 1, 2016. The IAP Application period opens on December 1, 2016, and the Deadline for applications is January 13, 2017. Absolutely no extensions will be granted.

Life Creative, a new creative maker space, is located at 1655 West Walnut Street at Paulina, a 1/2 block from the Ashland/Lake stop on both the Green and Pink trains, the #9 Ashland bus, and is ADA accessible.

RSVP for this Applicant Information Session (or another session)

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Friday, October 21, 2016

OPENING TOMORROW with talk at 10:30 AM! Chicago History Museum features the first American couturier—and he was born here!

  • Tulle evening dress with shell trim, fall 1946
A Chicago-born army vet and illustrator with modest beginnings ventures into the exclusive world of French haute couture and becomes the very first American couturier to achieve success in Paris. That's the story told by "Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier," which opens tomorrow at the Chicago History Museum. The exhibit features 30 of his garments, plus fashion illustrations, photographs, and interactive displays. 

After a stint in the U.S. Army, Main Rousseau Bocher  (1890–1976) landed in Paris, where was hired as a fashion illustrator for Harper's Bazaar. He eventually became the editor in chief of French Vogue, and from there decided to launch his own couture salon in 1930, a bold move considering the uncertain economic climate of those times. One of his most famous clients was Wallis Simpson, whose wedding gown he designed.

Learn more about Mainbocher below in a Chicago History Museum video and in a Q&A with the museum's costume curator, Petra Slinkard. 

  • Red velvet ballgown with accessories, fall 1947
What were Mainbocher's best years as a designer?
That is a difficult question. He was a prolific designer who worked as a couturier from 1930-1971. However, his most innovative years as a designer were the 1930s and 1940s.

How did he begin his career? Where did his learn his craft?
Mainbocher’s career as a couturier began in Paris. He learned about what constitutes “good fashion” from his years working as a fashion artist for Harper’s Bazaar and fashion editor with French Vogue. When he left Vogue to open his house, he taught himself the art of draping and dressmaking.

How did he grow to be a world-class couturier having come from such a modest family? How hard was it to be a couturier then?
I believe that it was Mainbocher’s upbringing that helped enable him to achieve the level of success he did. Not having come from a wealthy family meant he had to work hard for everything he achieved and he needed to be smart and flexible in achieving his goals. Becoming a couturier requires a great amount of skill and creative talent. Haute couture is a complex system of industry standards and social mores. What is most impressive about Mainbocher’s path is that he was an American working in the French system and then went on to adhere to the same process in the United States later.

What characterized his designs?
Simplicity, elegance, minimalism, restrained ornamentation, luxurious fabrics.

Who were some of his most famous clients?

The following Mrs./s: Huntington Astor, John Jacob Astor, Edward F. Hutton, Gilbert Miller, David K.E. Bruce, James B. Duke, and Barclay Warburton. In addition to Gloria Vanderbilt, Jean Harvey Vanderbilt, C. Z. Guest, Mary Martin, ‘Babe’ Paley, Millicent Rodgers, Mrs. A. Watson Armour, III and the women of the United States Navy, and the Girl Scouts of the USA

Could you tell us more about the wedding dress he designed for the Duchess of Windsor in 1937?
It is housed in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can learn more about it here

Considering he created uniforms for the Navy WAVES during World War II, the Girl Scouts, and nursing students at Chicago's Passavant Memorial, is it fair to say he was one of the first high-end designers to make his creations accessible to a wider segment of the population? 
No. But he was one of the first high-end designers to embark on a uniform design that experienced as much use and longevity than most others in the field.

  • WAVES uniform, United States Naval Reserve, c. 1942
What is Mainbocher most known for? 
Mainbocher was known for the understated elegance of his couture clothing. Among his innovations were short evening dresses, jeweled sweaters, and a revival of the corset that anticipated Dior’s New Look.
How can his influence be seen nowadays?
I think some of Mainbocher’s influences are so far-reaching we forget from where they came. For example the beaded cardigan and strapless gown have become fashion staples.

Why did the Chicago History Museum decide to open "Mainbocher: The First American Couturier" at this point in time?
The Chicago History Museum’s mission is to share Chicago’s stories. Mainbocher’s biography had not yet been told through an exhibition and so it seemed like a good fit for us at this time. His story is multifaceted and in my opinion, fascinating. I’m thrilled that we get to share it with them now.

So the very first American couturier was born in Chicago? No other American came before him?
There were other American couturiers working at the same time as Mainbocher, mainly Charles James and Valentina. But Mainbocher was the first American to achieve success as a couturier working in Paris in the 1930s. And yes, he was born and raised in Chicago.

Has the Mainbocher brand been resurrected? 
The brand has not yet been resurrected, but it is a great question, as the owner of the Mainbocher brand [Paris-based entrepreneur Arnaud de Lummen of Luvanis] will be at the Museum on Saturday, October 22, to discuss the pros and cons of resurrecting “sleeping beauty” brands such as Mainbocher. The talk begins at 10:30 AM and is free with museum admission.

"Making Mainbocher: The First American Couturier" 10/22-12/31, Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, 312-642-4600,, $16.

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader.

TONIGHT! The Art of Fashion at Revel Fulton Market

Local designer Anna Brown will be selling her creations at the Chicago Fashion Incubator booth during the event.

------ presents The Art of Fashion

Date & Times:
Friday, October 21, 2016 from 5-10pm (live runway show at 7:30pm)

What's New? It's Bigger & Better than Ever
In addition to an amazing runway show, guests can enjoy complimentary cocktails before & after the show and meet top Chicago designers at our FashionChicago pop-up shopping event (5-10pm) - in an event spanning 30,000 square feet at Revel Fulton Market (1215 W. Fulton Market, Chicago)

Event Highlights:
All ticket levels include complimentary:
• Signature cocktails by ABSOLUT Elyx & AVION Silver
• Tuscan wines by Rocca delle Macie
• Amstel Light & Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders
• Hors d'oeuvres by RA Sushi, Macello Ristorante & Wow Bao
• Nail Polish Changes by CND Vinylux

BONUS: VIP Goodie Bags (est. value $150+)
For VIP ticketbuyers, our signature Goodie Bags are filled to the rim (as always!) with full-size and travel size products & freebies from beauty & lifestyle brands including: Amlactin * Bliss * Biopelle * Chapstick * CND Vinylux * Hada Labo Tokyo * Hask Essentials * Honest Tea * invisibobble * LUNA Bar * Randolph Street Market * Trilogy Natural Skincare * VitaCoco* .....and more.

This year's bag proves once again - remains the undisputed Goodie Bag champion of Chicago. (No contest.)

Runway Show Designers:
Alyce Paris * Elda de la Rosa * Gidi * Heidi Hess * J. Toor * Lauren Lein * Leandro Mulet Designs * Julie Mersine * Mark Roscoe * Peach Carr * Shernett Swaby.

FashionChicago Pop-up Shops:
Ann Catherine Design * Ann Everett * Anna Hovet * Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's on State Street * Dena Lyons * FU Clothing * Gidi * Heidi Hess * Honey Red Designs * K. Amato * Lagi Nadeau * La Nisay * loveknitz * Nomadic Ant Jewelry * Peach Carr * Shernett Swaby * Squasht * Suki + Solaine * Tsonga * 4 Tamara Nicole …and more.    

More info at

EXPOsed at the Art Fair

chicago street style fashion blog

chicago street style fashion blog

chicago street style fashion blog

chicago street style fashion blog

chicago street style fashion blog

chicago street style fashion blog

While you looked at the art at EXPO Chicago, we looked at you!

From top to bottom:

Ceramicist Ashley Jimenez and Jessica Ciak went for a glamorous/hip all-black look; adding some white to the mix, art director Scott Cruz in a breezy monochromatic ensemble and fashion buyer Samm Mackin in a modern op-art look; Aaron Morris and LVL3 director Vincent Uribe kept colors neutral but made a statement with cool prints, matching bow ties and perfectly fitted garments; Sarah Morris and Lindsey Hauck sported modern, roomy tops in shades of blue, complemented by noteworthy accessories and pixie haircuts.

Also published in the current Newcity - now available all over downtown in those black newspaper boxes, and in the following select locations.


chicago street style fashion blog

Standing out at an art opening

Ceri Hand's cheerful, elegant dress stood out among the crowd attending the Sonnenzimmer opening at the Arts Club of Chicago. Alluring yet relaxed, the gallerist unwittingly followed the dress code established by Nick Butcher, Sonnenzimmer's cocreator. "Someone looking comfortable at an art opening really makes them stand out," Butcher says. But he did have a different look in mind. "The best outfits are the ones that make everyone aware of the of the inherent stuffiness of the whole thing," Butcher says. "A tank top, shorts, and a bike helmet are a great art-exhibit-opening outfit," suggests the artist. Hear the soundtrack distributed at Sonnenzimmer's show here

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader.


chicago street style fashion blog

Flower girl

Irene Flores drew a small crowd in Humboldt Park earlier last month while dancing to the sounds of Colombian band Herencia de Timbiquí during the World Music Festival. An enthusiastic attendee of the city's SummerDance series, Flores has had plenty of time to practice her moves. The Edgewater resident—her age, she quips, is a "military secret"—makes a point to visit every festival in town, and the two hours she spends settling on just the right attire for each event is "definitely worth it," she says. "It lifts my spirits."

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Labrabbit label launch tomorrow Friday 10.14!

I am sooooo excited about this! Labrabbit Optics will be launching their eyewear brand tomorrow Friday 10/14 from 6 to 10pm. They'll be featuring a limited edition of frames handmade in Japan! I'm such a huge fan of this shop and I can't live without my glasses, so I guess I'll see you there! At 1104 N Ashland. See Facebook invite here.

Indigo Nation pop-up shop at Maybe Sunday this Saturday!

I checked out their art show and saw the garments they'll be selling. Highly recommended! Indie local designers, great pieces and prices, all denim. What's not to love? Oh and also the location is pretty cool: Maybe Sunday in Pilsen. See you there!

More info here.


Groovy, baby!

"I love the 70s," Nikki Milan Houston says. A fan of blaxploitation films and Jane Birkin, 18-year-old Houston recently moved from a small beach town in California to study directing and screenwriting at Columbia College. "Between the perfect bell-bottoms, loafers, fur coats, and minidresses, [Birkin] has the exact effortless look that I've always admired," she says. "Also, I have to throw in the Austin Powers costume designers as a huge inspiration." See one of Nikki's films below.

Originally published in the Chicago Reader.


chicago street style fashion

Joshua Jenkins (@callmefag) had just eaten lunch at Lula Cafe.
What was the idea behind your outfit? 
I love wearing black! It goes well with everything and it’s easier to complement with a bunch of neck, ear and wrist candy.
How has your style changed from last summer?
I’m slowly challenging myself to be comfortable showing more of my skin. Last summer, I basically wore black skinny jeans, button-up shirts with loud prints and blazers. I still appreciate an eye-catching print, but I have a better grasp of how to style it now.
Your website— — is about your struggles as an outcast, and your efforts to make current societal standards change. What role does fashion play in that endeavor?
Fashion is a huge component of blurring the lines between “normal” and “abnormal” and eradicating the prejudices and fear society holds toward people who dress to their heart’s content. I’ve never viewed my style as a “statement”—I merely enjoy what I enjoy.
When the CEO of my company interviewed me in San Francisco, I wore long nails dressed in black polish, a pink sweater and wide-leg tweed pants. I was so grateful that my work ethic and personality superseded the fact that I was wearing “women’s” clothes. Denying someone a job, an opportunity, or hell, even a conversation because their clothing is too loud or challenges the “blue is for boys, pink is for girls” ideology perpetuates hatred and ignorance. I’d rather surround myself with fashionable and intelligent “weirdos” than someone who won’t hold their wife’s purse because they don’t want to “look gay.”
You also mentioned you’d like fashion to be gender neutral. Why?
Gendering fashion is a way for companies to market and sell products based on stale sexist ideologies. A man’s briefcase has the same purpose as a women’s purse, but brands would never risk confusing or making their customers feel uncomfortable by interchanging the names. Chinese and Japanese men used to stain their fingernails different colors to signify their high status in society. Egyptian men wore black eyeliner to reduce glare from the sunlight and wore heels for ceremonial purposes. We’re making strides in today’s world, though—did you see Jaden Smith’s feature in Louis Vuitton’s Summer/Spring 2016 womenswear campaign? Stunning. Fashion isn’t who you are as a person or what you can bring to the table—it’s about taste and aesthetic. No one has any right to control that.
Who are some of your style icons?
Prince and David Bowie pushed fashion boundaries until the day they died. A homeless person recently asked me for money while walking down Milwaukee Avenue. I told him I didn’t have any cash, to which he looked me up and down and exclaimed, “There’s only one Prince!” Best compliment ever.
In an ideal world what would you be wearing every day?
A crop-top t-shirt, a fur coat, skinny jeans, black pumps and a pink clutch. Gold jewelry is also a must.

Originally published in Newcity.


chicago street style fashion

Making a statement in khakis

Cameron creates a minimal khaki look that's anything but boring. His garments fit perfectly, and his attention to detail—such as the rolled-up pant legs showing off his blush socks, or the tucked-in T-shirt—make him stand out while most khakis just blend in.

Originally posted in the Chicago Reader.


chicago street style fashion

Playful and Vibrant
Nerd Press owner and artist Kelly Parsell ( was hanging out with her friends in Logan Square.
Could you tell me about your dress and where you got it?
The dress is from a Goodwill store near my mom’s house in the western suburbs. My mom and I were shopping together when I found it, and she disliked the dress until I tried it on. It was $7.99, which I thought was a splurge for thrifting. I debated a bit before buying it because of the price.
What thoughts and feelings does this dress evoke in you? What was the most fun place you wore it in?
Fun, whimsical, carefree, creative, colorful, happy, nostalgic, 1980s. The most fun place that I wore it would probably be in Detroit. I love that city!
Could you also tell me a bit about your accessories?
I bought my leather bag at a market in Oaxaca, Mexico nine years ago. It is my favorite. The strap is just now starting to tear, though, so I will need to get it repaired soon. My necklace is from one of the best places in Detroit called MBAD’s African Bead Museum. It is amazing! Google it and go there! I was actually wearing the same dress when I bought the necklace, and I thought they worked well together. My John Wayne and Lil Wayne earrings are part of artist Serene Bacigalupi’s collection called “Leroy’s Place.” She works out of New Orleans, which is where I purchased them, along with many more of her clever, laugh-inducing pieces. And I just purchased my Sam Edelman Circus sneakers from T.J.Maxx with a gift card I got a while back for my birthday. I love the velcro.
Do you usually thrift your clothes? Why? What’s your thrifting process like? 
I would say that I typically thrift about ninety percent of my clothing and accessories. I think the main reasons are because I’m cheap and I also really love the search. Sometimes I’ll spend a whole afternoon getting lost in the racks. I usually end up buying items that fit me well—I always try on before purchasing—and that have an unusual pattern, texture, color or quirky detail. In addition to clothes, I do really well thrifting accessories, especially necklaces. I love pieces that transport me to another place or time and that I can combine to build unexpected pairings over and over again.
How do your clothes relate to your art?
I think my clothes are very much related to my art. Both are playful, vibrant and, at times, humorous. You can see much of this in the colors and text of my Nerd Press [] greeting cards, silkscreened baby bodysuits and custom pet portraits. I tend to use a lot of bright watercolors, patterns and puns. In my personal art work, I’m interested in toeing the line between childhood and adulthood, which I can also see reflected in my style. If a shirt has a unicorn on it or something that reminds me of growing up, I will most likely buy it and work it into my wardrobe. Most importantly, though, with my art and fashion, I try to just be me and to not take myself too seriously.
Originally published in Newcity.