When I think of couture, I think gowns. I think hand-stitching, intricate detailing and immense admiration towards a designer’s skills and patience. Apparently this year’s Fashion Focus had a different definition of couture in mind.
The Allure of Couture, the grand finale of this year’s Fashion Focus Chicago, was a very good event by mere definition of a runway show. Other than that, it wasn’t as grand as a finale as I expected. There wasn’t a coherent theme throughout the evening, especially that of couture. Barbara Samuels, the show’s producer and member of the Mayor’s Fashion Advisory Council, stated that “The basic concept for the Fashion Focus Chicago finale show is rooted in the rich history of Chicago’s ethnic communities….” That theme should have been used for the World Fashion Sister Cities fashion show held four days beforehand—not for a couture show.
What it lacked for in definition, however, it made up for in entertainment. James de Colon opened the show with one of his models singing on the runway, and then during the chorus she changed on stage while the production assistants shielded the process from view with palm leaves. A belly dancer opened Sujata Gazder’s procession, Kristina Sparks finale’d her line with an enormous black and white feather plumed coat over a black beaded flapper cocktail dress, and a member of our very own Chicago Bulls team strutted the runway for Barbara Bates. If the show concentrated on the entertainment along with only extreme fashion, Fashion Focus Chicago could go out with a bang!
And then, there were the, “how did they let that out here?” ensembles. A low-slung belt made with men’s ties as baubles, denim shorts sewn to the back of a suit jacket and a long skirt covering only the right side of the model, revealing more of her left than I would’ve cared to see on a catwalk.
The winners of the evening were a heavy linen metallic silver trench and red fitted jacket with skirt by Price Walton, the wrapped flowing tops of Calvin Tran, and the body hugging dresses by Sylwia Wilcznyska. The only over-the-top couture pieces I was so looking forward to were a few items by Kristina Sparks: a silver tutu spacesuit, a gown seemingly made entirely of string, along with the previously-mentioned coat and cocktail dress.
Bottom line, if The Allure of Couture runs next year, the name either needs to be changed or some real couture needs to be displayed.
—Rachel YeomansSee the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40