DESIGNS ON DISPLAY

Byline: E.G.

CHICAGO — To survey what’s sewing in Chicago now, design buffs turned up at the opening exhibit of the new fashion and textiles department at The Chicago Athenaeum, a museum devoted to architecture and design.
The inaugural exhibit, “Designs to Wear,” featured looks from couture to contemporary created by 49 local designers.
Highlights included Maria Pinto’s elegant lace evening wraps, Cynthia Hadesman’s inventive straw-spun hats and Yutaka Fujita’s draped and wire bound evening gown, which prompted one exhibit-goer to enthuse, “Now we’re having fun.” Beyond getting a promotional boost, designers had the opportunity to take measure of their colleagues. “It’s good for people in Chicago to see what’s going on,” said Pinto. “We all work in separate, little nests.”
The premier party drew most of the exhibited designers, who represent a mix of seasoned and emerging talents.
“The diversity in Chicago design now is very exciting,” said Marisa Grifone, curator of the show and director of the new department. Though the museum has made a four-year commitment to focus on Chicago fashion, it will also show international works, she added.