The rain in Chicago last Friday evening did not put a damper on the Seventh Annual Driehaus Awards For Fashion Excellence. As well as giving Chicago student designers a boost in their careers with monetary awards, this year the event also raised $100,000 for "The Bottomless Closet", a Chicago not-for-profit which provides business attire and career skills training to women in transition – enabling them to interview with confidence, gain employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
The Driehaus warehouse, lined with double layers of beautiful antique cars, was transformed into a lively cocktail party setting for over 400 guests. A separate room was set up complete with tables and a runway for guests to relax in a nightclub atmosphere while they enjoyed the show. The event was hosted by Richard H. Driehaus, a philanthropist who’s interest in architecture (and obviously auto design!) has led to supporting yet anther art form: fashion design! Linda Yu of ABC 7 was Master of Ceremonies, and judges included Cathy Bush of Sotheby’s, Sheryl Dyer of Van Cleef & Arpels, Steven Rosengard of Project Runway Season Four and Ann Wallace of Escada.
This year, 25 students representing five local schools were selected to have their collections modeled in a runway fashion show. Participating schools included Columbia College Chicago, Dominican University, the Illinois Institute of Art, the International Academy of Design and Technology and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Typical of most student shows, the level of creativity is always there but can sometimes go over-the-top. However, the craft and execution from this group of students was very professional. The award winners were Emily Marxer for 1st place, awarded $3000, Beth Minnery for 2nd place, awarded $2000, and Rachel Frank for 3rd place awarded $1000. Paul Wesolowski won the $500 Steven J. Rosengard Award for Creativity and also received a $500 Honorable Mention prize. Three other Honorable Mention prizes were awarded to Sean Krueger, Glenn Glass and Hector Monarrez. Judging must have been since the students’ lines varied greatly from one another, from swimwear to casualwear, leather to bridal gowns, comic book heroes to bumble bees to the homeless…yes, there were some unusual themes!
I had little stars scribbled next to the names of top three award winners in my program, as well as noting several others, so I will have to say that I agreed with the judges selection. A few of the names I recognized from last year’s event, and was glad to see how they have evolved.
—Carol CalacciSee the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40
Tags: Carol Calacci, Columbia College Chicago, Dominican University, The Bottomless Closet, The Illinois Institute of Art, The International Academy of Design and Technology, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago