For those of us that love fashion, it’s always a treat when we’re allowed an insider’s peek into the behind the scenes world of designers. For someone like me who can’t draw to save my life, I’m amazed at how the idea of a garment can come to life from a sketch and a roll of fabric and I love to witness a workspace that’s deep in the process of creating (sometimes Project Runway just isn’t enough!)
That’s why I look forward to the Chicago Fashion Incubator’s Annual Open House. On the 11th floor of Macy’s on State St., high above the unassuming shoppers, the six Designers In Residence chosen each year work tirelessly on their developing lines and creative visions. And though we may catch sight of them here and there at one event or another, it’s a different experience to see them in their natural element hear them speak openly about the strides they’ve made while in the program.
The CFI workspace was bustling with activity during the open house with friends, family and fans swarming the designers with questions about their pieces. VitaminWater Zero was on hand to keep us all hydrated on a hot day and snacks came compliments of Pop Chips and KIND Healthy Snacks. The long, wooden workspace tables were littered with remnants of fabric. Garments hung on rolling racks and were styled on dress forms for guests to get a closeup look.
Despite the flurry of people, I was able to catch up with a few of the designers:
Crystal Simms of Crystal B. Designs pulls from her experience of designing garments for drag queens when crafting her dramatic and avant-garde designs. Architectural elements such as sculpted shoulders play key roles in her pieces, as do attention-grabbing details like sequins and black and white color-blocking.
Having named her clothing line after her own childhood nickname, Concetta Cipriano of Cettina prides her work on a balance between strength and femininity. She plays with the juxtaposition of hard and soft with delicate details like ruffles and a pastel palette cut into structured silhouettes.
Gidi by Taneasha Prunty specializes in dazzling evening gowns that toe the line between modern sophistication and retro elegance. Taneasha’s bubbling personality and passion for her craft were apparent even in the few moments that we spoke and her meticulously detailed gowns looked perfect for red carpet events.
Kahindo Mateene of Modahnik was so busy with guests interested in the bold, brightly colored pieces in her African-inspired line, we didn’t get a chance to talk. But the vibrant prints and palette jumped out from across the room and I was able to catch a solid glimpse of her socially conscious separates and dresses that combined traditional African patterns with modern shapes.
The remaining two incubators, Eric Kipp and Shavonne Dorsey were also on hand speaking with guests, as was the Executive Director of the Chicago Fashion Incubator, Lara Miller, who I managed a quick hello! After vowing to catch up with everyone during Fashion Focus, I noticed the last little treat of the day: specially designed Chicago Fashion Incubator t-shirts that held the banner ‘Made In Chicago’ against a backdrop of the Chicago skyline. The CFI never fails to make the Chicago fashion community proud of their city!
For more information on the CFI and the 2010 Designers In Residence, visit chicagofashionincubator.org.
Photo Source: Second City Style,See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40
Tags: Cettina, Chicago events, Chicago Fashion Incubator, Chicago Fashion Incubator's Annual Open House, Concetta Cipriano, Crystal B. Designs, Crystal Simms, Designers in Residence, Eric Cipp, Gidi, Kahindo Mateene, KIND Healthy Snacks, Lara Miller, Macy's, Modahnik, Pop Chips, Shavonne Dorsey, Taneasha Prunty, VitaminWater Zero