By  on April 16, 2007

CHICAGO — House of Diehl brought its "Signature Line" to Chicago last Wednesday, asking students from the School of the Art Institute to sign or tag a white strapless dress made from men's dress shirts by MJ Diehl.

"We use fashion design as a way to capture communities," Diehl said. "From the Berlin Wall to the bathroom stall, people love to make their mark." Those marks constitute the crowd's fashion statement and "each dress is a snapshot of the place or environment in which it was created," Diehl's partner Roman Milisic said.

The Chicago dress will then join those from other events to be shown collectively as House of Diehl's "Signature Line."

The project began with a signed, decorated garment from a 2005 London party and includes a "denim jacket" crafted for a 1967 Chevy Camaro that rode in the New York Art Parade last fall, enticing signatures from traffic cops, hot dog vendors and children. Next, the pair plans to cover a hotel room with fabric, including everything from the bathtub to lamp shades, during New York Design Week in May, they said. Diehl plans to create a dress from both the denim and fabric from the hotel room.

"We like people to participate in fashion," Milisic said. "We want to bring people into the action."

Students questioned the pair about contradictions in their message, the true accessibility of their fashions and their place in the fashion industry.

Diehl, who, in a nutshell, maintained that to subvert the system, one must be in the system, said she was impressed with the questions, which she called "insightful."

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