October 31, 2010

Fashion Focus 2010 The Art of Fashion: From Casual to Couture

The Art of Fashion (hosted by StyleChicago.com) was the final runway show of Fashion Focus 2010. Showcasing both established and emerging designers, it was the most attended runway show of the week.

The featured designers included Lara Miller, Kirk James Collection, Paul Sisti, Lauren Lein, Borris Powell and Elda de la Rosa. The emerging designers included Hector-Javier MonArrez, Lydia Wawrzyniak and Fraley Le.

The show consisted of everything from casual daytime looks to "red carpet" contenders. Overall, my favorites were Kirk James Collection and Hector-Javier MonArrez. These designers presented the most wearable looks that also appealed to my aesthetic. Lydia Wawrzyniak came in as a close second. Her collection definitely made me want to get dolled up and attend an art gallery opening or movie premiere (if ever I were to get invited to one).

Here's a peek at my favorite looks of the evening:

Kirk James Collection
Black and white was the color palette of choice. Without much color, what could've been yawn-inducing turned out to be a spectacular presentation. Instead of patterns, Kirk James Collection used varying materials and textures to create the monochromatic effect. I was also a big fan of the flutter sleeves throughout the collection. Femininity at its best.

Paul Sisti
Paul Sisti's use of sequin was the most intriguing element of the collection. The unexpected mix of denim and sequin definitely caught my attention. Also, the black sequin pants appeared quite wearable and chic.

Borris Powell
More than anything, I loved the printed dresses. They were extremely flirty. And the colored sashes around the waist sealed the deal.

Elda de la Rosa
The details on the back of the Elda de la Rosa dresses were breathtaking. Forget the entrance, you would make an unforgettable EXIT wearing one of these lovelies.

Hector-Javier MonArrez*
Cobalt blue was the prominent color in this collection and I didn't mind it one bit. The color was bold but it was the details that captivated the audience. Asymmetric necklines, puff sleeves and exaggerated shoulders helped to make each item a statement piece without the appearance of trying too hard.

Lydia Wawrzyniak
As the most artistic designer of the night, Lydia Wawrzyniak showcased the beauty of couture. The craftsmanship and fit were both undeniably amazing.

Click HERE to view photos from the entire show. Then, come back and tell me your favorite(s)?

*The Hector-Javier MonArrez photos were sourced from StyleChicago.com.

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A Reader's Request Answered - Hidden Platform Pumps

This Reader's Request was submitted via Twitter. Miss @curlyfro is on the hunt for a beige/taupe, hidden platform pump with closed toe under $150. I took to the internet and here's what I found...

Clockwise from top left:
Botkins by ALDO - $75.50
Lilo by N.Y.L.A. - $99.95
Heelsup by Nine West - $99.00
Fantasha by Steve Madden - $99.95

Here's the thing to remember about 'taupe' shoes: It means something different to different brands/designers. As you may notice, all of the shoes I found are different shades of taupe. If you're looking to match an outfit, determining the shade you need is fairly simple. However, if you're looking for a neutral shoe that elongates the leg, find the "taupe" that matches your complexion the most (as mentioned here).

I think the "Heelsup" by Nine West may be my personal favorite. What do you think?

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October 26, 2010

Fashion Focus 2010 Dress Code - "Off the Grid": Student Designers Represent

The Dress Code runway show during Fashion Focus gives design students an opportunity to give the city a glimpse of what they've been up to.  As one might guess, it is the most avant garde of all the runway shows. This year's show, entitled "Off the Grid",  included everything from potato sacks to wooden wings.  The four design schools were represented well...as shown by the designers and the crowd of students that supported them.

And now, the fun stuff:

School of the Art Institute of Chicago 

- The orange velvet dress by Katie King literally brought sexy back.
- Talia Elinoff's gold dress with uniquely placed horizontal ruffles is perfect for a cocktail party. While the yellow double breasted and belted jacket presented us with an ideal way to add color to a man's wardrobe.
- Although, not necessarily the most wearable, Luis Rodriguez's innovative half sheer, half suit dress managed to "wow" the crowd even after the initial shock of the eerily fantastic masks donned by the models (reminiscent of Junya Watanabe S/S 2011).

Columbia College Chicago

- The hard edges of the fossil-like headpiece were the perfect complement to the voluminous ruffled dress by Christina Yi.
- Elizabeth Weidner's coat with asymmetrical button detail put a twist on the military look.
Dana Farella cut, twisted and turned wool tweed in every way imaginable.
- Only two words for the Maureen Sullivan finale dress. Simply. Gorgeous.

The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago

- The gathered hem detail on this dress by Suzanne Anderson gave the illusion of a jumpsuit. I kept asking myself, "is it a jumpsuit?" "is it a dress?" Either way, I like it.
- The potato sack and one strap overalls in Michael Schellenbach's collection were impractical yet noteworthy.

The International Academy of Design and Technology

- Color-blocked brocade, Hakeem Gayden? Yes, please.
- An angel with wooden wings, Alexandre Chandoa? Absolutely.

Which school(s) do you think had the best designs?

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October 25, 2010

Fashion Focus 2010 Studio-808 Accessory Style Lounge: Local Designers and My Personal Pledge

Typically, during any fashion week, accessories take a back seat to the garments seen on the runway. In the fashion world, where styling can make or break a runway show, accessories are the greatest "supporting actors".

Harper's Bazaar recognized this fact when they decided to host their first ever Accessories Bazaar during NY Fashion Week this past September. In Chicago, Studio-808 followed suit with their Accessory Style Lounge during Fashion Focus 2010.

With only six participating designers, this event managed to inspire me to make a personal pledge...which I'll get to later. First, let's discuss these awesome local designers.

Love, Lulu Mae
Saying that Love, Lulu Mae's headbands, multipurpose hairpins, masks and top hats are eye-catching would be an understatement. Using findings such as vintage brooches and Swarovski crystals paired with accents of feather and tulle, the designer, Agnes (shown above), has created a line of amazing handmade headpieces. Taking center stage was the top hat with a netted veil, feathers and large plume. It is theatrical yet perfect for a fun night out! As if her current collection is not enough, Agnes also makes custom items. So, whether it's a photo shoot or a masquerade ball, she's got you covered.

Jules is a jewelry line that I had always heard about but never had the opportunity of seeing in person. Thank goodness I finally got my chance! The designer, Julie, knows how to work the heck out of metal and gemstones. The high level of craftmanship and the brilliance of the light reflecting off the stones made me want nearly every item in her collection. However, it was her unique pieces such as the Bijoux Square Bangle and the Wrist Wring Bling that sealed my fate as Jules' #1 fan. Julie is truly an artist.


Other great finds included:
- the metal and beaded earrings by Susan Elizabeth Designs (such dangly goodness)
- the hats with ear flaps by Squasht by Les (been pretty much lusting after these for over a year)
- the wrist clutches by Lisa Spagnolo (striking colors and patterns)
- the leather bracelets by Sophia Forero bearing the logos of brands such as Addidas and Wilson (perfect for my b-boys and b-girls)

Viewing all of these great accessories and experiencing the enthusiasm each of these designers had for there respective line compelled me to make a personal pledge. I have decided for this upcoming holiday season, to purchase most, if not all, of my gifts from local designers! I figured it would be a great way to support these independent artists and take advantage of the unique, one-of-a-kind items they have to offer. As usual, I'll keep you up to date on my purchases via Twitter.

Did you make it to the Studio-808 Accessory Style Lounge? What did you buy? Who was your favorite designer?

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October 22, 2010

[Shoe Swoon] Gianmarco Lorenzi Polka Dot Platform Boot

When it comes to footwear, Lorenzi does no wrong...

Pick up a pair at farfetch.com for a mere $1346.


October 21, 2010

Fashion Focus 2010 CFI Runway Show: Past + Present = Future

As the first official runway show for Fashion Focus 2010, the Chicago Fashion Incubator designers kicked off the week in major style! The CFI at Macy's is a year-long program that was created to help catapult the careers of local emerging artists via access to a workspace, showroom, resources and mentors.  This week's runway show provided consumers, potential buyers and media an opportunity to see what both the current and alumni designers have in store for Spring 2011.

The show started with the alumni designers, which included fan favorites like Agga B., Audey and Anna Hovet. Then, followed the current designers who showcased everything from menswear to garters.  Practicality and wearability were the resounding themes throughout most of the collections.  Although there was an abundance of black, color found its place on the runway via designers such as Audey, Nora del Busto and Evil Kitty. Menswear also had a "shine moment" when designer Donaldo Smith of Killian Gui showed us how a button-up shirt could be remixed numerous ways and still remain classic.  A few items such as the cutout sleeve dress by Agga B., the full skirted dress by Kristin Hassan and virtually every lingerie outfit by Dottie's Delights triggered some oos and aahs...there really is nothing like hearing an in-sync reaction from such a large crowd. Accessories were the supporting actors to the clothing. With all the quirky headpieces, funky shades, petticoats and caged tights, Chicago will be having some serious fun this Spring.

The talent showcased by the CFI participants, both past and present, is helping to make the future of Chicago fashion even brighter.

Let's take to the runway, shall we?

Agga B. (alumni)
The cutout sleeve dress (which is gorgeous coming and going), the long fur vest as well as the black dress with exaggerated fur shoulders turned me into an immediate fan. Basically, I wanted one of everything! This designer garnered so much buzz after the show. I think it's safe to say that Agga B. was the favorite amongst many. 

Miriam Cecilia (current)
One word...MICA!!  Miriam Cecilia used the impressive mineral in every look. Mica on the hips, up the back, around the neck, around the waist...you get the point.  Although the mineral embellishments took center stage, it did not overshadow the construction of the garments.  I loved the draping. But most of all, I loved the puff shoulders on the mini dresses.  The perfect feminine touch.

Killian Gui (current)
Who knew a men's button-up could be revamped so many different ways?! The pinstripe tuxedo bib had me at ""hello". Both the shirt with the unique placket detail (is that a 'K' for Killian?) and the one with raglan sleeves introduced casual elements to a classic wardrobe item.  Every man needs to own at least one of these shirts. I mean, really.

Dottie's Delights (current)
Lingerie so pretty, you'd want to wear it as outerwear. There was something for every woman, from power broker to princess.

Nora del Busto (alumni)
I was enamored with the colors, the caged detail on the sleeves and the black and white graphic print.

Audey (alumni)
Audey consistently delivers colorful, fun and flirty dresses.  Do they not have the prettiest prints?!

Evil Kitty (alumni)
Just. Plain. Fun. From the caged tights to the hot pink dress with the tube detail to the hot pink shrug with dinosaur-like spikes.

Kate Boggiano (alumni)
Ruffles! In coral. In gingham.On the neckline of the full skirted trench coat.  These items could work well for women of many different ages.

C/FAN (current)
A silk scarf draped cardigan with a jersey drape pant...trip to Miami, anyone?

Kristin Hassan (alumni)
This black dress brought the drama.

Nonnie Threads (current)
For the cool kids!

Alidade (current)
Casual and comfortable while still remaining chic.

Anna Hovet (alumni)
I want the hooded bolero and the jersey asymmetrical-hem skort (perhaps to wear with one of these t-shirts I've been lusting over) .  I'm not quite sure where I'd wear them...but I want them, nonetheless.

Did you make it to the CFI show? Who were your favorites?

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October 20, 2010

ShopSwagg Ticket Winner Announced!

It's time to announce the winner of the ShopSwagg Ticket Giveaway!!

*cue the drum roll*

And the winner is....

I'm looking forward to shopping until we drop! I'll be in touch soon.

Thanks to everyone that entered! Even if you didn't win, consider purchasing a ticket to ShopSwagg (click here). We'll still get to shop together AND the proceeds will benefit two amazing nonprofit organizations in the Chicagoland area.

As always, stay tuned for more ChiTown Fashionista giveaways.

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October 15, 2010

Fashion Focus 2010 Events

Fashion Focus - Chicago's Fashion Week - begins next week!!  Jam-packed with runway shows and shopping events, it's shaping up to be one of THE most anticipated weeks in the Chicago fashion world.  I'm excited to see what Chicago designers, established and emerging, have to offer.

Here are some of the events I'm looking forward to attending:

Tuesday, October 19th:

Macy’s presents the Chicago Fashion Incubator Designers Past & Present with CS Magazine
Kickoff Fashion Focus Chicago 2010 with the accomplishments of the Chicago Fashion Incubator designers-in-residence past and present. Stay ahead of the trends with this preview of Spring 2011 collections from 14 of the names-you-need-to-know from the Chicago Fashion Incubator. Join Macy’s and CS Magazine for a runway exclusive showcasing alumni from 2008 and 2009 alongside the 2010 designers-in-residence as they debut their Spring 2011 collections. (Click HERE for my recap)


Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Wednesday, October 20th:

Life of Two Fairies Runway Show
Borris Powell presents his Spring 2011 eponymous womenswear collection the “Life of Two Fairies.” The playful and romantic collection is inspired by a legend of two fairies falling in love despite coming from different backgrounds. The runway show will bring the inspiration of the collection to life and tell a tale of innocent love entangled by good and evil.


The Drake Hotel, Palmer Room
140 E. Walton Pl.
Chicago, IL 60611

Thursday, October 21st:

Studio-808 presents the Accessory Style Lounge
Studio-808 is presenting the first ever Accessory Style Lounge showcasing Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 accessory lines from a select list of emerging Chicago brands. A shopping suite filled with fashion, fun and the perfect place to pick up pieces to complement any wardrobe from Chicago’s most creative accessory designers.

3:00pm - 6:00pm

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, Lounge Bar
230 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601

Dress Code
Catch the runway debut of the next rising stars at this showing of top students from Chicago’s fashion design schools: Columbia College Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago, The International Academy of Design & Technology Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. An added feature to this year’s event will be a showing of the four finalists from Chicago History Museum’s FashioNext Generation competition. The winner will be announced during the runway show and the awarded hat and handbag designs created for the competition will be put on display with the winning ensemble from the 2010 FashioNext competition in connection with the I Do! Chicago Ties the Knot exhibition.


Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North
201 E. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Friday, October 22nd:

StyleChicago.com presents the Art of Fashion 2010
The Art of Fashion 2010 is the runway finale at Millennium Park presented by StyleChicago.com. This artistic affair will preview contemporary to couture Spring 2011 collections of accomplished Chicago designers Elda de la Rosa, Kirk James Collection by studio 5p1t, Lara Miller, Lauren Lein, Borris Powell, and Paul Sisti, to name a few. This elegant event will also showcase three award-winning designers in an “emerging artists” category: Hector-Javier MonArrez, Fraley Le and Lydia Wawrzyniak. In addition to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, VIP ticket holders will receive an amazing signature StyleChicago.com gift bag.
Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Saturday, October 23rd:

FashionChicago® presented by StyleChicago.com
To end the week, the fashion tent at Millennium Park will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind, designer shopping event on Saturday. Shop more than thirty of Chicago’s best apparel, jewelry and accessories designers. The first 100 shoppers who make a minimum purchase of $100 or more will receive a StyleChicago.com signature goodie bag.
10:00am - 6:00pm

Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North
201 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601

Click HERE for the complete event list and ticket information.

See ya next week!!

Which events will you be attending? What are you wearing? Which designers are you excited to see?

Independent Retail Week will be in effect at the same time.  Visit ChicagoDress.com to view the list of events for participating stores.

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October 12, 2010

ShopSwagg Shopping Event - Ticket GIVEAWAY

It's no secret, I'm a bona fide shopaholic who loves supporting local businesses and designers.  A little birdie must have told the lovely folks at ShopSwagg because they have offered to send me and a lucky winner to their upcoming Fashion Night Out event in Chicago!! *clapping*

ShopSwagg holds exclusive shopping events across the country that allow attendees to shop 100+ local and national vendors. Not only can one have access to so much goodness under one roof but the items are discounted up to 60% off retail prices AND a portion of the proceeds are donated to a local charity.

The Chicago event will be held at the ever popular nightclub, Excalibur, on November 13th and will benefit Chicago Cares as well as the Chicagoland area Susan G. Komen for the Cure. 'Tis the perfect opportunity to begin some early Christmas shopping for yourself. For more details, click the flyer below.

I'm excited to attend this with one of my readers! Do you think your shopping skills will put me to shame? Do you enjoy attending shopping events and supporting local vendors? Do you just want to watch me spend my entire paycheck?

Well, what are you waiting for?! Enter so we can enjoy a fabulous evening of shopping and frolicking!

Leave a comment saying "I wanna shop!". Don't forget to include your email address.


*This giveaway is for a general admission ticket and only open to readers in the Chicagoland area. The entry deadline is Tuesday, October 19th at 11:59 PM (CST).

UPDATE: Check out the winner announcement >> here <<. Also, receive a 50% off discount on your ticket purchase when you enter code FRIEND at checkout.

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Out of Print T-Shirt Giveaway WINNER

I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone that entered the Out of Print T-Shirt Giveaway. I really enjoyed reading the comments about how the book you selected impacted your life. AH-mazing!

Now for the winner:

Congratulations, Chandra!! 
I hope you enjoy your Catcher in the Rye tee. I will be in touch with you shortly.

To those that didn't win, no worries. I will have more great giveaways in the (very near) future. So, stay tuned.

October 11, 2010

A Reader's Request Answered - Leopard Pony Hair Pumps Under $150

This Reader's Request was submitted via Facebook.  My fellow fashionista, Janeen, is on the hunt for a pair of pony hair, leopard print pumps priced below $150.  The leopard pump is a classic that always adds a point of interest to an outfit and it's one item my wardrobe has been lacking for quite some time.  $150 is definitely in my price range PLUS Janeen and I wear the same size. Needless to say, this Reader's Request quickly turned into a personal quest.

And here are my finds...

Meet my new friends: Colette, Paoletta and Kenisha

Colette by Calvin Klein - $118
Paoletta by Nine West - $89
Kenisha by Lumiani - $65

Kenisha is starting to become my favorite but they are all winners in their own right.

As the Leopard King, Roberto Cavalli, has stated, "For incredible chic and fun, you can always count on a good zebra or leopard print."

So true, Mr. Cavalli. SO. TRUE.

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October 4, 2010

Out of Print Tees + GIVEAWAY

I'm a bookworm. Every summer, while growing up, I participated in my school's read-a-thon and read at least 20 books a summer. Nowadays, I have less time to read. I barely have time to get through 2 books in one season, let alone 20. However, I still love books!! In a world obsessed with technology, there's nothing like cracking open a book (not a Kindle) and escaping from life, if only for a few minutes.

So, when I received an email from Out of Print Clothing and learned about how they are celebrating the joy of reading through fashion, I was immediately intrigued.

Out of Print Clothing has created a line of t-shirts that bear the vibrant and artistic images of some of the world's greatest novel covers. Using iconic and out-of-print covers of classic books such as "To Kill a Mocking Bird", "Invisible Man", "Catcher in the Rye" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", Out of Print tees give you the opportunity to creatively display your love of reading while simultaneously upping your "cool factor".

In addition to selling great t-shirts, Out of Print Clothing's mission is to provide books to those in need.  This is why, for every t-shirt sold, Out of Print donates a book to Books for Africa.  Wondering how many books they've donated so far? Over 20,000! That's beyond impressive and yet another reason to appreciate this line.

Visit OutofPrintClothing.com to check out the entire collection and read more about their mission.  And remember that making a purchase will not only benefit you but also the life of others.

Now, for a little fun...

The wonderful folks at Out of Print Clothing are offering a t-shirt to one lucky winner! 

To enter, you must complete the following steps:*
1. Go to the Out of Print Clothing website to view the entire line (check out the men's shirts as well).
2. Leave a comment below stating which shirt you'd love to have and why. Is it nostalgic? Is it still one of your favorite books of all time? Did it have a lasting effect on your life? Also include your size and email address.

For additional entries:
-Retweet this post
-Follow Out of Print on Twitter or Facebook
-Follow ChiTown Fashionista on Twitter or Facebook

That's right. Up to four chances to enter!


*This giveaway ends Monday, October 11th, at 11:59pm CST and is open to U.S. residents only

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October 2, 2010

Online Shopping Just Became a Little More Exciting: ASOS Launches U.S. Site & NM Last Call Is Now Online

This is the most exciting online shopping news I've shared in awhile! As if we needed any more sites to feed our shopping addiction. 

ASOS.com Launches a U.S. Site

As you know, ASOS has the largest selection of any existing online store.  This UK-based retailer has been around since 2000 and is deemed as "the world's biggest wardrobe".  Over the years, ASOS has become increasingly popular amongst U.S. shoppers looking for up-to-date fashion at reasonable prices and a wide range of sizes.  With its constant product updates, many (including myself) visit ASOS on a weekly basis to check out new additions.  However, U.S. customers have always had issues with the cost of shipping (especially for returns) and the uncertainty associated with UK size and price conversions.  With the launch of the U.S. site, customers in the States can now shop with ease.  Free U.S. shipping is available BOTH WAYS. Additionally, U.S. sizing is provided and USD pricing is the default. Click here to start shopping!

Side Note: I'm sure this news has every other U.S. retailer shaking in their boots.  Oh well, maybe the competition will force them to step their game up.

Neiman Marcus Last Call is Now Online

For shoppers looking to get first dibs on all the Neiman Marcus castaways, Neiman Marcus Last Call is a dream come true. High-end designer wares available at deep discounts? Sign me up. Unfortunately, the Last Call locations are few and far between.  Therefore,  most shoppers have to travel a great distance (for us, it's Gurnee Mills, IL) to take advantage of  the great deals.  Considered as a groundbreaking move within the department store discount world, Neiman Marcus Last Call has taken to the world wide web.  Shoppers can peruse and purchase items at any time, from any place.  The site will also include "Fashion Dash", which consists of limited-time sales for registered users to shop exclusive deals - even more incentive to visit and bookmark this site. Click here to start your designer discount shopping experience.

Side Note: Will Nordstrom Rack and Off 5th follow suit?  Let's keep our fingers AND toes crossed. 

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