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CHICAGO — A little star power never hurts.
The city of Chicago recognized this sentiment and enlisted Fall Out Boy bassist and designer Pete Wentz to help launch its fourth annual city fashion week, Fashion Focus Chicago, set for Oct. 1 to 8.
Wentz, who grew up in suburban Wilmette and opened his clothing line’s first Clandestine Industries retail store here, will kick off the fall event, showing his collection at the week’s first runway show, Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion, on Oct. 1.
Wentz, with his new bride Ashlee Simpson in the audience, joked at Monday’s press conference that “usually if I’m addressing this much press at 9 a.m. it’s because I’ve done something stupid.”
All kidding aside, this year’s edition of Fashion Focus, mostly taking place at Chicago’s Millennium Park, will highlight some of the city’s most marketable designers at a runway show sponsored by Macy’s, spotlight the city’s ethnically diverse designers and models in the Allure of Couture fashion show and recognize students from its four design schools in the first All-School Fashion Show.
The eight-day affair, sponsored by Lancôme, Macy’s and Toyota, among others, also will include World Fashion Chicago, a runway show featuring fashions relating to Chicago’s 27 sister cities.
Other events include industry seminars, design competitions, shopping events and a new eco-friendly installation called the Museum of Sustainable Style, which involves clothing, accessories and furniture designers creating sustainable products.
The activities are all part of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s effort to spotlight and build Chicago’s fashion business, a move he began in 2006, creating the Mayor’s Fashion Council and appointing Melissa Gamble, a former attorney, as the city’s first director of fashion arts and events.
Daley’s foray into fashion was likely triggered by the city’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, a relationship he acknowledged Monday.
“This industry is very important as we put our [Olympic] effort forward,” Daley said. “I can think of nothing more vibrant, creative and growing than our fashion community.”
“No one realized how many designers are in Chicago,” Daley continued. “They are all artists and they really bring an identity to Chicago.”
Since Daley began his initiative, Fashion Focus Chicago has refined its efforts: The city helped launch the Web site ChicagoFashionResource.com providing information on jobs, designers and boutiques, and teamed with Macy’s on State Street to start the Chicago Fashion Incubator, which offers work space and business advice to select city designers.