2009 marks the fifth year of Fashion Focus Chicago, the city's one-week series of events celebrating and showcasing local talent in Chicago's budding fashion community.
Launched in 2005, Fashion Focus Chicago is an initiative that promotes the 375 independent fashion boutiques and 400+ designers living and working in the city and includes shopping, industry seminars, networking events and, of course, runway shows such as Macy's presents the Designers of Chicago, Gen Art's Fresh Faces and Dress Code, the Chicago Fashion Design Schools fashion show.
Held in Millennium Park's Chase Promenade, Dress Code featured the top five student designers and recent graduates from Colombia College Chicago, Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the International Academy of Design and Technology.
Melissa Gamble, Director of Fashion Arts and Events for the city and Mayor Richard M. Daley opened the show with brief remarks. Mayor Daley expressed how proud he was the fashion industry in the city continues to grow each year and his want for fashion designers to have their own profession in the city.
Student and graduate designers presented a wide range of designs, from practical everyday wears to over the top couture-inspired pieces.
Stand out designs/designers included: bulky knits pieces in neutrals by Kaely Garcia and white romantic one shoulder and futuristic tube tops by Bas' Talaga (both from Colombia College Chicago); sporty tomboyish plaid pieces (tops and bottoms) with ruffled tuxedo top with vest by Kelsey Heiniger and denim bustier dress with black leather belting at the waist and a black leather halter dress with stitch detailing from Katherine Swanson (both from the Illinois Institute of Art); modern skinny denim pants paired with sweaters by Jessica Miskell (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago); playful, florescent dresses from Jemelyn Smith and show stopping Oscar worthy gowns from Fraley Le (both from the International Academy of Design and Technology Chicago).
Other designers featured in the show were: Alexis Aprati, Anna Brown and Maureen Sullivan (Columbia College Chicago); Bese Guzeldere, Amber Johnson and Angie Ortega (Illinois Institute of Art); Olivia Kim, Genevieve Clifford, Tina Park and Kelly Kroener (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago); and Philip Gueorguiev, Meranda McNeill and Rebecca Diaz (International Academy of Design and Technology Chicago).
For more information on Fashion Focus Chicago, please visit www.chicagofashionresource.com.
Story by Tamara Jenkins, photos by Percy Ollie, Jr. ©2009