Fashion Focus 2011: FashioNext
If there’s one thing we can count on from fashion events in Chicago, it’s that when students from some of the top-notch design schools are involved, it’ll be interesting. Case in point: Wednesday night’s Dress Code. The runway show, entitled FashioNext, took place in a tent outside of the Chicago History Museum and showcased work by students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the International Academy of Design & Technology, Illinois Institute of Art and Columbia College Chicago.
Riffing on the current exhibit at the museum on designer Charles James, students took inspiration from the design, pattern and construction of an original James design. If only we’d been able to see the source of inspiration, the show might have been that much more impacting. As it was, the students’ work was statement-making in its own right, particularly the winning design by Cynthia Roman of Columbia College: a knockout black and white formal gown highlighting the female figure with what looked like opening petals of fabric.
Like any show, there were hits and misses. I was impressed with detailed work such as Christine Joy Teodoro’s garments hand-painted with comic-like characters and paired with cartoonishly embellished polka dotted and striped painted heels; the billowing lines of Bonnie Alayne’s wedding gowns were pleasingly romantic even if the antler crown was a bit off-putting, as was the excessive length of the skirts that left us all fearing the models would fall flat on their faces; the pleating and jeweled embellishment on Marta Cebrat’s dresses.
Even more memorable than some of the looks, though, was the peanut gallery of two older women seated behind me, who freely exchanged comments like “I hope he doesn’t go walking down Michigan Avenue like that” and “that’d be a great wedding gown if you’re nine months pregnant” all throughout the show. Forget pretense or modesty. Sometimes sitting by the peanut gallery is the best seat in the house.