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CHICAGO — It might have been the warm breeze off the lake or the smooth tunes of Wayne Newton — whatever the reason, Marshall Field’s hit its stride this year with Glamorama, its annual fall fashion preview, party and benefit.
This story first appeared in the August 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The past three years, headliners for the event, formerly known as Fash Bash, have sold tickets and helped raise money for the Art Institute of Chicago. But this year, attendees and crashers gathered in front of the Chicago Theatre a full hour before the show, hoping to get a glimpse and perhaps autograph of Mr. Las Vegas.
Younger gapers were dressed in low-riders and green eye shadow, while older partygoers wore cocktail dresses and evening clothes. A group of four gentlemen showed up in body paint and feathers, looking a bit like Vegas showgirls in drag. Everybody milled around to a backdrop of disco music spun by Todd Oldham, the newest designer for Target Stores, Field’s low-priced sibling.
Newton, ferociously tanned with every strand of his coal-black coif in place, graciously accepted compliments and even signed a few autographs. His wife Cathleen stood by smiling in a sleek black Céline dress, Chanel bag and several rings sporting diamonds the size of ice cubes.
Newton and a gaggle of performers, including singer Kina and a group of acrobats called Balagan, provided the background for the evening’s purpose: a preview of fall fashions. Models strutted in looks from Céline, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, St. John Knits, Badgley Mischka, D&G Dolce & Gabbana and Sonia Rykiel, with scenes of men’s wear interspersed.
All the clothes drew applause, especially Lauren’s all-black collection and de la Renta’s Russian-inspired dresses and coats.
“Black was really prominent,” said JoAnn Young, Field’s trend correspondent, though she noted hints of saturated color and muted earth-tone palettes as well. Young predicted that shearlings and flight pants would be the items most likely to end up in customers’ closets.
As a benefit, Glamorama raised $290,000 for the Art Institute. As a marketing event, Field’s executives hope the party puts the store first on patrons’ shopping lists.
“We expect to create a buzz for Field’s as the fashion leader,” said Katie Erickson, the store’s senior vice president of marketing. “If nothing else, it puts fall fashion in people’s minds.”
To accommodate the 3,000 who would attend the after-show party, Field’s cleared its seventh floor and set up Vegas-themed rooms: the Wedding Chapel, the Emperor Room, the Egyptian Barge, the Rat Pack Lounge and the Candelabra Club. At the Wedding Chapel, partygoers stood in line to have a picture snapped with one of the many Elvis look-alikes patrolling the party, but left the Jordan almonds and champagne untouched.
Newton’s appearance, the fashion show and the party combined to put attendees in the mood to shop.
“I liked the leather jackets, the pantsuits and over-the-shoulder purses,” said Rose Barefield of Chicago, noting that she’d begin shopping for her fall wardrobe in September
Her friend, Rhiannon Williams, called the clothes “gorgeous,” but admitted she’d start shopping at a lower price point.
Beth Kinsella from Chicago called Glamorama “the perfect event to showcase everything Field’s does so well.” A lifelong Field’s shopper, she called the store “the pinnacle of Chicago.”
Her friend, DeeDee Zwilling, who lives in suburban Barrington, said, “I want to shop the minute I hit the front door.”
As for the Newtons, they did most of their shopping before the show. Cathleen Newton hit Oak Street, stopping by Barneys and then Marilyn Miglin to stock up on fragrances. She then loaded up on Donna Karan at the Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue, and finally, picked out a slew of outfits featured at the Glamorama fashion show.
“We did some damage,” her husband sighed.