Fashion Focus

It's Fashion Focus Chicago's eighth year running, where some of the city's established fashion leaders and emerging talent will showcase their work and celebrate the industry. This monumental event featuring some 400 local designers is programmed by the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. It will take place Monday, October 15 through Sunday, October 21, in various locations around the city, with featured runway shows in Millennium Park.

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The Tradition

Last year I attended Dress Code, a student fashion design show featuring collections from schools around the city, and FashioNext, the Chicago History Museum's very own design competition. Both shows were an incredible source of inspiration. As a recent graduate myself, I was excited to see the early works from young designers, that I'm sure will be showing on the catwalks of Paris over the next decade.

2011 EventDress Code, Fashion Focus 2011

2012's Must-See Show

If there's one event to make this year, it's "Fashion Takes Flight" presented by Mario Tricoci Hair Salons and vitaminwater (10/18). This highly anticipated event will feature five designers, -- C. Dahlstedt, J. Cheikh, Imaginary People, Azza, and Shelby Steiner -- all with a unique spin on Chicago style. These designers focus on creating wearable art that's impeccably made and surprisingly accessible.

I'm particularly excited about this one because of the overarching theme of awareness and philanthropy. Azza, selected as Michigan Avenue Magazine's 2011 Cause Celeb, has committed to donating a garment to an impoverished South Asian woman or child for every piece sold.

Interview: Shelby Steiner, Designer

Shelby Steiner - Blog

The youngest participant at "Fashion Takes Flight," is unlike other designers in one significant way: transparency. She blogs her design process from sketchbook to editorial shoot, a candid and especially revealing aspect of fashion's creative evolution. I spoke with Steiner to find out what it takes to participate in Fashion Focus Chicago and why this event is a pivotal moment in her design career.

[On ambitions for her Spring/Summer 2013 collection]: "...to bring awareness to the poaching of endangered species like the rhinos in South Africa, inspire others to make a difference, and continue to learn and progress with launching my label."

[What we can expect from the collection]: "...a complementary color palette with authentic print designs. There is a lot of heavy layering with imagery of kaleidoscope skeletal structure prints and stylized silhouettes. The subtle hints of the core concept are visually striking, but not literal, and suitable from daywear to evening."

[How she measures success]: "...seeing the garments come to life on a model is beyond rewarding."

[What she's thinking about before the show]: "I am also curious, but excited to see the reactions of friends and family, as well as the general public."

[And a recommendation from an industry insider]: "Don't miss Maison de LaCour's show with Luxury Management. I'm eager to see what the new designers in residence at the Incubator have launched for spring."

For more information on Fashion Focus Chicago 2012, click here.