By Geoff Corriere
By Geoff Corriere
The nationally acclaimed School of the Art Institute of Chicago is preparing for its 76th annual fashion show. Presenting the innovative looks of its Fashion Design Department students in the gorgeous Modern Wing, Fashion 2010 will be a runway show not to be missed.
Photographs by James Prinz
From Left to Right: the designs of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago student Margot Brummer, Jin Hee Heo, Jennifer Moy, and Heidi Mullins-Lemieux
Chicago will get its own taste of Fashion Week this May with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual fashion show—Fashion 2010. For the past 75 years, the School (SAIC) has presented an outstanding runway show of looks created by the students of the Fashion Design Department. This year’s show will feature more than 200 cutting-edge garments by the next generation of up-and-coming designers. Sheridan Road was given the exclusive opportunity to chat with the show’s three co-chairs, Stephanie Sick and Bisi Williams Mau of Winnetka, and Donna LaPietra of Mettawa, and was even given the chance to talk with one of the stars of the show: Talia Elinoff, a senior in fashion design.
The location of this year’s show at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing makes it particularly noteworthy. It marks the return of SAIC’s annual fashion show to the museum for the first time in 15 years. The critically acclaimed Renzo Piano-designed Griffin Court will serve as the elegant backdrop. “To have the show in the museum shows a city that believes in the museum’s use; one that’s looking forward and not back,” Bisi explain. Donna hopes it will be the permanent space for the runway show. “It’s a perfect melding of the Art Institute and the School as related institutions but also separate institutions. It’s such a beautiful location and fits with the cutting-edge work the students do,” she says.
On Friday, May 7, Fashion 2010 will be presented three times. The first show begins at 2 p.m. with general admission seating and tickets available at $75. The 7 p.m. show is part of SAIC’s annual gala benefit, THE WALK 2010. It will begin with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by the runway show honoring SAIC alum Gary Graham, and concludes with a post-show dinner in Terzo Piano. Tickets start at $500 and proceeds from THE WALK 2010 benefit scholarship funding for SAIC students. “The scholarships are really what’s it all about,” emphasizes Donna. “It’s important to both the students and the viability of the school.”
The newest addition is the NightWalk, a late-night fashion party from 9 p.m. to midnight. Tickets to this special event are $100 and will include an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and dessert. The standing room only “Best of Show” runway presentation will feature 10 designs by SAIC Legend of Fashion honoree Gary Graham, who graduated from the School in 1992. Stephanie points out that Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour recently named Gary as a finalist of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund, which is devoted to helping emerging American designers achieve their goals. Now living in New York, Gary’s designs are available in specialty boutiques and department stores worldwide. He joins a long list of notable alumni from SAIC’s Fashion Design Department, including Cynthia Rowley, Maria Pinto, and Roy Halston Frowick (more famously known as Halston).
Also being honored that evening is Eunice Johnson, who founded Ebony magazine with her husband 65 years ago. Eunice passed away this January, and with such strong roots in Chicago, SAIC thought it would be appropriate to give a scholarship in her honor. “She was such a marvelous champion for fashion through the Johnson publications, and we’re celebrating her life,” Donna explains.
This will be Talia’s third year in the show. She began as a sophomore, with one look in the show. During her junior year, she had three looks walk the runway. This year, she’ll have five. The seniors work on their concept all year. The Dick Tracy comics inspired Talia’s collection. “There are some cartoonish elements to my garments, exaggerated hips and shoulders,” she describes. On the last day of the fall semester, a 25-look collection was due with one look completed in muslin. Then, over winter break, they completed two to three more pieces in muslin to be ready to fit the first day of class. Throughout the spring semester, the seniors fit all five looks in muslin and in the final fabric at least once. In April, they have try-ons with the actual models from Factor Model Management and finish all alterations for the early May show.
While the process may sound grueling, Talia is always working toward the ultimate reward: the show. “It’s a wonderful opportunity,” she says. “It’s a great way to launch your name out there without having to start a business. You get some real-world experience with models and cramped backstage quarters. And it’s a lot of fun!”
For more information about Fashion 2010 and for tickets to the 2 p.m. show and the NightWalk, visit www.saic.edu/fashionshow. For tickets, tables, sponsorships, or more information about THE WALK 2010, call 312-899-1439.