The fall season might be cooling things down in other cities but Chicago is heating up with Fashion Focus CHICago, the city's 10th annual Chicago Fashion Week, Oct. 4-12. The nine-day event celebrates all aspects of the Chicago fashion scene, including designers, boutiques, stylists and models at venues all over the city. There's always a good mix of free and ticketed events that feature runway shows, fashion markets, demonstrations and workshops but this year also showcases cultural attire from Latino, African and Haitian cultures as well as a collaborative art and fashion exhibit.
That's a lot of stylish fun packed into a short time period. We know it's easy to feel overwhelmed with all the choices so we've organized chronological picks for five can't miss Chicago Fashion Week events:
Our Fashion, Our Heritage: Haiti Fashion Week Preview (Block Thirty Seven, Oct. 5)
This is the first time that Haitian fashion will be showcased at Chicago Fashion Week and it looks like the designers want to make up for lost time with an ambitious theme that covers all 500 years of the country's existence. The preview is a peek at Haiti Fashion Week, which takes place Nov. 5-8 in Haiti and includes a runway show and a marketplace displaying Haiti's top designers interpreting the colorful Haitian aesthetic with a modern twist. This promises to be a fascinating glimpse of Haitian culture and style.
The event location is Block Thirty Seven, 108 N. State, 3rd Floor. Shopping is from 12-6 p.m. The runway show starts at 6:30 p.m. - tickets are $15 general admission and $25 VIP, which includes a swag bag. Visit Eventbrite for tickets.
NEXT Chicago Fashion 2015 (Block Thirty Seven, Oct. 7)
This inventive fashion show always supplies intriguing views of emerging and established Chicago designers. You never know what to expect headed down this runway but it's typically entertaining. This year's show also includes a NEXT GENERATION fashion design challenge that will most likely heighten the drama quotient. A cocktail reception, awards presentation, red carpet and after-party are all a part of the heady mix. The location is Block Thirty Seven, 108 N. State, 3rd floor. Shopping is from 5:30-9 p.m. and the VIP cocktail reception and red carpet starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $95 (VIP Couture), $60 (Catwalk), $40 (Fashion) and $15 for students at Eventbrite.
Virgin Hotel Chicago Presents Chicago Fashion Incubator Designer Showcase (Virgin Hotel Chicago, 203 N. Wabash, Commons Room, Oct. 8)
The Fashion Incubator at Macy's State Street is a key program for developing local designers. The two-year design residency provides young fashion entrepreneurs with mentors and equipment to create their debut collections. This showcase presents the Chicago-based, designers who have developed their craft during the program. Expect innovation and well designed pieces at this event. The location is the Virgin Hotels Chicago, 203 N. Wabash, in the Commons Room. The showcase kicks off at 5 p.m. and admission is free but reservations are required. Email VHCfashionshow@skoogproductions.com to request a reservation.
Style Chicago Presents the Art of Fashion Runway (Millennium Park, Oct. 9)
This splashy show, held under a tent in Millennium Park, is always the highlight of the week. Ten local designers present Spring and Summer 2016 collections to a standing room only crowd. The red carpet portion highlights local fashionistas and notables who are often as big a draw as the actual show. The location is Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph, 6 p.m. for the cocktail reception, 7:30 p.m. for the runway show and 9:30 p.m. for the afterparty at Virgin Hotel Chicago. Tickets are $95-$110 VIP, $75 Cocktail reception and runway seated, $55 for cocktail reception and runway show standing room. Visit stylechicago.com for tickets.
"Inspired" Fashion and Art Exhibition (Gallery Seventy Nine, 2249 W. 79th, Oct. 10)
An art installation that explores fashion and the people who wear it, this exhibit features a collaboration that includes, art, spoken word and fashion. Designer Ms. Kalilah of Cayenne Couture and the art of Rain Wilson will examine truth and self reflection in this boundary-blurring event. The location is Gallery Seventy Nine at 2249 W. 79th St. VIP early entry is at 6 p.m., doors open at 6:45 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $60 VIP and $33 general admission. Go to Eventbrite for tickets.