Everyone seems to be in New York during this infamous week of spring fashion. However for one day, 1,300 people gathered at the Hilton Chicago to celebrate the 54th Annual Gold Coast Fashion Award Show.
Following the networking and champagne reception deftly decorated by David Yurman-clad models, guests were ushered into the ballroom to lunch, gossip and wait in anticipation to see which of the eight competing designers would earn this year’s coveted award.
Norman Ambrose, last year’s winner, kicked off the event by accepting his award and reminding guests that their attendance wasn’t just to gape at the fashions, but also to support the cause behind the event: to benefit the Children’s Memorial Hospital.
“At the end of the day it’s about the children,” Ambrose stated after the show. “It makes me very proud to be here.” This year’s show raised more than $300,000 that will go towards The Children’s Service Board’s commitment to support the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Memorial, the largest provider of pediatric surgery in the Chicago area.
After Ambrose graciously accepted his first award after only four collections, his designs graced the runway to kick off this year’s competition with the ever so appropriate song, “Putting on the Ritz”. His designs transported me to an era of Grace Kelly, the 1930s, and the very best of vintage style. As the announcer accurately stated, his work was sophistication personified.
Immediately following Ambrose’s designs came strutting the competing designers’ collections in the following order:
• Robert Rodriguez – Neutral colors with black accents, fur stoles, dark teal, fitted tuxedo pants, belted coats and impeccable gown detailing
• Christian Cota – Fantastic shift dresses, navy leather leggings, elegant draping with a cutting edge
• Angel Chang – Long-sleeved flip-over tops, dark neutral tones, everyday wear in the dreams of every closet
• Venexiana – Gorgeous florals, ruffles, pastels, and reflective black gowns that visualized the onomatopoeia POW! from a Batman cartoon (and not in a bad way)
• Cesar Galindo – Check out the lining—that little black dress has hidden fuchsia attitude!
• Romona Keveza – Set to fairy tale music, the dresses seemed to wisp you away to another land with the make of amazing gowns with the bold colors of a woman who is not to be trifled with
• Thuy – The zipper detailing is back! The stand-out ocean-colored sheath dress covered by the bright blue billowy coat had just enough attitude with the perfect amount of hidden femininity
• Ina Soltani – It was like Cartier took the colors of Istanbul to a ball. My personal favorite was the black textured town with the black belt.
Before the event I was lucky enough to talk to Ina Soltani about her collection, and based on her description, it was everything I was anticipating and more.
“It is super romantic,” said Soltani. “It is dedicated to women who believe in themselves.” Her inspiration for the gowns came from Istanbul—“When you are there you are attacked by every sense. It’s an amazing city. “Needless to say, so is Soltani’s Fall collection.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Norman Ambrose said. However he said that it is important to not get wrapped up in assuming that he can take a step back in his designs. “It’s never good enough,” he said. “If you are satisfied with your work, then you are in the wrong business.”
On his own designs, Ambrose said his inspirations are mostly born from the costume archives within the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the clients who wear his work.
“Women are leading half the world,” stated Ambrose. “[The clothes] are about women’s confidence and making women beautiful.” His signature element to achieve this goal, he said he learned over time and declares it to be the jersey dress “wrapped up with a beautiful belt.”
His advice to those dreaming of dressing a runway: Think about the industry. “Try to make it an American product,” says Ambrose. “We are working to rejuvenate and resuscitate the [fashion] industry. And we need help.”
The progress that Ambrose stresses could be seen that afternoon from the runway and from the lunch tables applauding the fantastic successes that the industry has brought forth. And who will accept the honor to kick off next year’s event as the winner of the 2009 Gold Coast Fashion Award Show? Let’s raise our glasses to this year’s selected: Romona Keveza!
– Rachel Yeomans
Photos: Bob CarlSee the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40
Tags: 2009 Gold Coast Fashion Award Show, Angel Chang, Cesar Galindo, Childrenâ€™s Memorial Hospital bebfit, David Yurman, Grace Kelly, Hilton Chicagom, Ina Soltani, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Norman Ambrose, Romona Keveza, Thuy, Venexiana