Chicago’s fledgling fashion week may be poised for a makeover.
Looking to strengthen its fall fashion production, called Fashion Focus, city organizers are awaiting results of a pro bono study conducted to show how Chicago’s retail and fashion rank in the international fashion area. The results should help determine future plans for Fashion Focus, said Jason Felger, co-chairman of Mayor Richard Daley’s Fashion Advisory Council.
Although the crowds and buzz surrounding Fashion Focus have grown, local and regional buyers have yet to seriously invest in the eight-day event, with little more than a handful of local retailers attending the runway shows at Millennium Park in October. A key question is whether fashion week, which Daley helped subsidize as part of a 2006 city fashion initiative, will remain consumer driven or try to build a stronger industry element. And then there’s the matter of whether Chicago has the pull to draw regional or national buyers and press.
Melissa Gamble, the city’s director of fashion arts and events, who was appointed to the new position as part of the 2006 initiative, said: “Our goal is to give the designers here a venue to showcase their work. We know there is a huge consumer interest and demand and we have to try to grow the buyers aspect.”
Funding issues have prevented a major outreach to buyers, Gamble said. This year, the city budgeted $225,000 for Fashion Focus, with the rest of the production costs covered by sponsorship from Lancôme, Toyota and Midwest spa chain Mario Tricoci.
Nick Cave, a member of the Mayor’s Fashion Council and instructor at the School of the Art Institute, who produced one of the week’s most compelling shows, Allure of Couture, said he will propose that the city concentrate its efforts into one weekend with designers hosting runway shows throughout the day, the larger city-sponsored shows at night and industry seminars and shopping events interspersed between them.
He believes that setup may improve Chicago’s chances of drawing regional or national buyers and intensify the entire experience.
“What hasn’t been working is the momentum,” Cave said. “It needs to be more dynamic.”
Gamble said the city is open to new ideas and format changes. “There’s not a lot that doesn’t go onto the table for next year,” she said.
Gamble said she would like to see more designers take ownership of the event by conducting and funding their own runway shows, with some city assistance.
Fashion Focus raised its profile this year by including more prominent local designers such as Maria Pinto, Michelle Obama’s designer of choice, and inviting Fall Out Boy bassist and designer Pete Wentz (who watched the show alongside then-pregnant wife Ashlee Simpson Wentz) to kick off the festivities.
Select designers were invited to show their work for free at the nightly events, which ranged from Gen Art’s Fresh Faces and an all-student show called Dress Code to Macy’s Designers of Chicago, which featured local designers whose clothing or accessories are sold at Macy’s on State Street or are part of the Chicago Fashion Incubator housed at Macy’s.
The week’s long-term future also may be influenced by whether Chicago succeeds in its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Daley has said that the city’s fashion community was a key aspect to Chicago’s Olympic initiative.
Felger said the results of the study may also help the city glean more sponsors or attract a production company like IMG, which produces New York’s fashion week.
Fashion Focus has “evolved so much in five years,” Felger said. “The city has done its part. It has helped build this and it put in resources. At some point the private sector needs to look and say ‘we want to participate.’”
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews