How can I say this kindly? In fact, I’m not really sure I can…Chicago is not quite ready for prime time. At first I thought, maybe reporting on New York fashion shows has jaded me, made me a fashion snob, so to speak. But, I don’t really think so, these shows are simply not there and the Second City Style staff unfortunately agrees. I don’t expect New York but after three years I certainly expect more. Does it make me happy to say this? Absolutely not!
I came back to Chicago (a city I miss dearly for every reason except fashion) for some of the shows and this was my first. Halfway through the too-long presentation Wednesday night I remember thinking…why am I here?
The buzz for Fashion Focus had me believe things had vastly improved. For one, designers would be showing spring designs. Second, the designers would be of a higher caliber.
Here is what the Sister City show was…a hodge-podge of spring and fall (currently in stores) fashions. (In some cases I even questioned which years or past decades many of these designs were from as they were dated). Additionally, the designs were supposed to be by international designers. Some were, but most were by local designers I have never heard of (probably born and raised in Winnetka) that were put in specific country categories based on their heritage. So let’s say I were a showing designer, because I am partially of Russian decent, I would be shown under "Moscow, Russia." I have never been to Russia. Carol, my Italian business partner who was born and raised in Chicago would have been placed with the ‘Milan, Italy’ group. It was deceiving and it was a stretch…a far stretch.
With an hour and a half cocktail reception prior to the show and an introduction by the mayor, Fashion Focus’ Sister City felt more like a political fundraiser disguising itself as a fashion show. Yes, it was put on by the Chicago Sister Cities International Program, but I would have expected it to be more hip.
What a missed opportunity for Chicago to be taken seriously. Montreal just had a banging 2-day fashion week with amazingly innovative fashion, why can’t Chicago? Yet until all the the shows during Fashion Focus are fashion forward (focus on spring rather than consumer fashion or what’s in the stores now) and innovative…Chicago will never be a force in fashion which is really sad news for the 250+ designers who design here.
– Lauren Dimet Waters