During the Fashion Focus Chicago 2011 week four headlining fashion shows were held at the Millennium Park. Presented by Macy’s, the first show was a fundraiser for Chicago Fashion Incubator, an organization that supports new and emerging designers.
Fashion Focus week in Chicago is one week long celebration of fashion in the city. Fashion shows and shopping events are held at various locations with headlining shows held in the Millennium Park.
Chicago Fashion Incubator, founded in 2008, is a non-for-profit organization located at the 11th floor of Macy’s on State St that provides six designers with a one year long incubation program. The designers-in-residence go thought intense curriculum of workshops and seminars that teaches them the business of fashion. They are also presented with opportunities to showcase their lines at local events and fashion shows.
At the CFI fashion show presented by Macy’s on October 18 all six of the 2011 designers-in-residence got an opportunity to present their Spring 2012 collections to an audience of 800 guests. Followed by 9 Incubator alumni designers who had also showed their latest collections.
Before the music started and models walked the runway, Lara Miller, Executive Director of Chicago Fashion Incubator, and Andrea Schwartz, Vice President of Media Relations at Macy’s took the stage outlining the very many benefits of the residence program and how it helps emerging designers.
Violinist Katarina Visnevska performed her set during showcase of Incubator alumni designer’s collections. Passionate about music, Katarina has been experimenting with combining classical instrument with modern musical styles. She is known around Chicago for her live performances using her acoustic violin in collaboration with DJs.
It was an intense 45-minute fashion show with 15 designers presenting a total of 104 designs. It took 23 female and 8 male models to showcase all the garments in a perfectly timed manner.
It was quite amazing to see how talented Chicago emerging designers are. We’ve caught up with many of them after the show and got to interview them about the experience of being part of the Fashion Focus, as well as their experience with the residence program.
Modahnik is a woman’s contemporary label that creates beautiful dresses using bold colors, vibrant African inspired prints and western design sensibilities. Kahindo Mateene, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, founded her label in 2009. Kahindo had produced 2 collections prior to being accepted into the 2011 designer-in-residence program at Chicago Fashion Incubator.
“The CFI program has been and continues to be a wealth of information and education. We not only partake of numerous workshops that really teach the business side of the fashion industry, learning things that are not taught in Fashion Design schools, and should be. We also get first hand knowledge from Lara Miller, the Executive Director, who is also a fashion designer and has gone through the some arduous steps in building a successful fashion brand. It is also really helpful to have access to industry professionals in all different facets of the industry and, most importantly, the workroom is a huge perk. Working side by side with fellow designers is very comforting and the camaraderie we have built is priceless.”
-– Kahindo Mateene
The Spring 2012 collection presented at the CFI fashion show continued to reflect Kahindo’s heritage thru the combination of vibrant colors with intricate patterns. Some of the designs presented could be worn everyday as well as for a special occasion, where as others are guaranteed to make you stand out at a red carpet event.
“I have participated the Fashion Focus in the past couple of years, but this year far exceeded my expectations. Showing my collection at a headlining show and to such a large audience was definitely exhilarating; this was by far the largest audience I have ever been in front of. The reviews after the show were all great and I am so happy that my collection was well received.”
— Kahindo Mateene
It is not often that women in Chicago wear dresses that are bold and full of color, so if you are someone who likes to stand out from the crowd, do check out Modahnik.
Crystal B. Designs
Crystal B. Designs is a fashion design company specializes in wholesale and custom made clothing. A modern brand that focuses on fusing architectural form with the female silhouette to positively enhance the features of the female figure. And catering to today’s young and trendy, professional women.
Crystal Simms, the designer behind Crystal B. Designs, takes her inspiration from architecture. By playing with structure, Crystal has created garments that help draw out the femininity of female figure regardless of shape and size. It was not surprising when Crystal got accepted into the CFI resident program.
“Being apart of the Chicago Fashion Incubator has helped me out tremendously! It has helped me learn how to run a fashion business effectively, helped me get my name out there, and just meet a lot of cool people. It’s a great program.”
-– Crystal Simms
Presented at the CFI fashion show, the collection was comprised of black and white cocktail dresses. The architectural influence could definitely be seen in these very flattering dresses. What really took everyone’s breath away was the finale white floor length gown.
“Fashion Focus was Amazing! It was great to see all the hard work finally show on the big runway. I had a blast and everyone was very receptive.”
-– Crystal Simms
For anyone wishing to look sophisticated at any occasion and feeling comfortable, as Crystal utilizes only 100% real fabrics, make sure to check out Crystal B. Designs.
Shavonne Dorsey is opulent, classic and beautiful, specializing in powerfully feminine dresses for the bodies of curvaceous women who love to confidently express themselves with great sophistication. Shavonne Dorsey’s line creates unique and figure flattering dresses for women up to size 24.
Shavonne is designing for plus size figures and knows what to flatter and what to hide to make curvaceous women feel and look good. Coming from a medical sales background, Shavonne decided to pursue her passion for designing. With her approach of designing for the plus size figure rather then designing in the plus sizes, Shavonne is the first ever full figure designer accepted to the CFI resident program.
“My experience with the Chicago Fashion Incubator program has been simply priceless! The program has taught me several strategies that are extremely useful to my business. The CFI program is valuable and has helped me tremendously to become a better designer and entrepreneur. It has been extremely beneficial due to the mentoring, workshops and a large amount of experienced people and valuable resources to help you. The program has significantly helped me advance my knowledge. There are so many different areas of the business side of fashion that a designer needs to know as much as possible about. The CFI program willingly provides that for you as well as an extensive amount of marketing and public relation opportunities to professionally promote your business. In summary, I would encourage any designer that has a strong vision for their line and a solid work ethic to apply.”
— Shavonne Dorsey
The collection presented at the CFI fashion show proved that women of any size can look sophisticated, fashionable and beautiful… that is if they wear the right designer. Shavonne Dorsey is that designer.
“Oh my. Having my designs in the Chicago Fashion Focus Show was totally amazing! As the first full-figured designer in the CFI program, it felt great to see real women, with real curves and real bodies grace the runway. To see my designs float down the runway made me understand that anything is possible with hard work, and determination. It made everything I have been through worth it, to be there, that day!”
— Shavonne Dorsey
Forget the myth that only dark colors are slimming, check out Shavonne Dorsey designs in bright and still flattering colors.
Cettina is balancing both structured and draped pieces delivering versatility for the feminine, yet classic women. Cettina seamlessly blends trends with timeless styles, creating pieces that can be worn from one season to the next
Cettina was founded by Concetta Cipriano, who was born and raised in Chicago and who from a very young age knew designing was her passion. That passion helped Concetta get accepted to the 2011 CFI designer-in-residence program.
“The Chicago Fashion Incubator has been very beneficial to me in strengthening the business side of my line. It has been a wonderful experience so far and I look forward to continuing to grow my business by taking all that I have learned in this program in the future.”
— Concetta Cipriano
It was fall season and it was raining the day of the fashion show, however when Cettina’s collection was presented on the runway, you couldn’t help but feel the spring was near. With predominantly mango, celery and cream colors the clothes were truly timeless.
“Being a part of the Incubator show at Fashion Focus was an amazing experience. It was such a wonderful event and I am very grateful to have been apart of it. Seeing all of the work I have done over the past 6 months finally come to life on the runway was truly rewarding.”
— Concetta Cipriano
If looking to invest in that one piece that will stay true to you next as it did this year, then check out Cettina.
Eric Kipp Custom Clothiers
Eric Kipp Custom Clothiers brings a refreshing point of view to classic menswear. Dedicated to the time honored tradition of tailoring, with a commitment to quality and U.S., the line focuses on sharply tailored suits and separates.
Graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York and with a decade in the fashion industry, Eric brings his extensive expertise in luxury tailored and contemporary menswear to his custom tailored clothing company in Chicago. Eric oversees all design, textile sourcing, manufacturing and fittings.
At the Fashion Focus CFI fashion show Eric presented the Spring 2012 of his menswear collection. The three-piece suites in variety of brown and cream tones will make any man look refined. Eric’s collection was made to accommodate busy days that transition into evening cocktails making it easy to go from business to casual while wearing the same suite.
GIDI is a line of luxury women’s apparel that walks the line between classic sophistication and modern lines. Each garment is an intricate composition of timeless luxury and bold coloration.
Coming from a Finance background Taneasha Prunty decided to pursue her lifelong passion of designing eveningwear for sophisticated women. Her belief that all women should own timeless pieces that transcend seasons and trends is what inspired her to develop a line that displays what she calls “relaxed couture.” In 2011 Taneasha has been accepted to the Chicago Fashion Incubator residency program.
“Professionally, being in the CFI has given me invaluable information and contacts. It’s helped me to “fill in the gaps” as I try to collect and utilize the information I would need to lay the foundation for a successful business. Much of the information that we’ve been given through our regular roundtable discussions I didn’t even know that I needed! From financial planners, to legal assistance, to mentors with a rich history in the fashion industry – the program provides me with both business skills as well as creative assistance in shaping and building my line. The benefits of participating in this program have been absolutely invaluable!!!”
— Taneasha Prunty
Presented at the CFI fashion show during Fashion Focus was GIDI’s Spring 2012 collection. Taneasha used solid colors in her line – with olives, plum and black and elegant curve-hugging silhouettes her designs looked timeless. She had a few more daring pieces, however still keeping the look sophisticated.
“Participating in Fashion Focus has been a dream of mine since its inception. I was able to attend the very first show (for Incubator participants) back in 2008, but was not able to showcase my line, since that day, it was my endeavor to showcase my line in the show. I am living proof that tenacity and determination pay off because this year I was a featured and I was absolutely ecstatic to be one of the featured designers. And seeing my designs on the runway in front of so many influential people in the fashion industry was a little intimidating – but exciting all the while!”
— Taneasha Prunty
When looking to make an entrance that will be remembered, wear GIDI.
Chicago Fashion Incubator Alumni Designers
C/FAN by Christina Fan, a contemporary womenswear line based on luxe, sensual, and effortlessly urban separates.
Anna Hovet inspired by the Chicago underground music/art scene and influenced by modern trends, the young contemporary line is unique, edgy and super comfortable.
Nonnie by Jonnie Rettele. Nonnie’s refined utilitarian look provides distinction for men who are unique, comfortable, and nuanced in their style.
Evil Kitty by Lidia Wachowska, a line with two distinctive personalities with one being punky and playful, while the other is sleek and classy.
Dottie’s Delights by Stephanie Kuhr, a line of vintage-inspired lingerie and foundation wear that shape the body naturally into more flattering silhouette.
Agga B by Agga Raya implements artistic visions of fusing fashion and art into one creative entity.
Cynthia Ryba taking inspiration from hard working, multi-tasking women, the line develops pieces that belong in a modern woman’s wardrobe.
Killian Gui by Donaldo Smith, a contemporary menswear brand that masters the blend of elegant business attire with modern casual wear.
Miriam Cecilia manipulates fabric to create more “sculptured than stitched” garments from cocktail separates to couture hand-sewn gowns.
Reporter – Raven Mai
Event Photography – Julian Favela