By  on October 3, 2007

Chicago's fledgling fashion week, Fashion Focus 2007, is growing up.

More compact and substantial, the Windy City's third annual fashion foray improves on past efforts and adds some industry oomph with designer Doo-Ri Chung and Steven Kolb, executive director for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, helping kick off the event, which will run Oct. 9 to 14.

This year, attendees will encounter a more extensive crop of Chicago-area designers showing spring fashions rather than a mishmash of fall and spring designs. Their work will be featured in five runway shows held over six days rather than last year's too-long 12-day affair.

In addition, industry seminars have grown in scope, including one focusing on business growth featuring Kolb; James Seuss, chief executive officer of Cole Haan, and Andrew Rosen, president of Theory. Also, Fashion Focus 2007's October dates better coincide with the industry calendar. Last year's late-September event conflicted with Milan Fashion Week and markets in New York.

"In our third year, our programming is better," said Melissa Turner, the city's director of fashion arts and events. "It's a significant step forward from what we've been doing the past two years."

General admission tickets for two Fashion Focus runway shows "World Fashion Chicago" and "The Allure of Couture" have already sold out, and it was Kolb who approached Turner about participating in Fashion Focus.

"To us it's really about demonstrating that we are a national organization," Kolb said. "There's great talent in Chicago, and we're trying to create a bridge or a catalyst for local designers to go national."

Kolb and CFDA's involvement helps to elevate Chicago's fashion week and provide credibility to the city's efforts, Turner said. "We have four fashion design schools and approximately 250 designers working here in Chicago," said Turner. "People recognize the significance of the Chicago market."

Fashion Focus 2007 also includes an increased consumer or retail component, offering an array of neighborhood shopping tours. Some of the designer runway looks, meanwhile, will be for sale at Gen Art's expanded Shop Chicago event, Turner said.

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