Hell no, she won't go
to leave Chicago
We can count on one hand the number of high-end fashion shows that happen in Chicago every season. Sure, there's Marshall Field's glitzy Glamorama, with schmoozing celebrities and models strutting in big-time collections. And there's the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion event, a jam-packed, alcohol-fueled extravaganza that introduces local designers to the city's hip fashion-forward crowd.
But the sad truth is this: Most Chicago designers head off to New York the second they sell their first piece of clothing—and they take with them any hope of Chicago ever hosting a world-class local fashion show—the kind where the work of a sole nail-biting designer is on display.
Yet, as Chicago becomes more of a presence on the national radar, the flock-to-the-coasts trend may be ending—and local designer Allie Adams is leading the stay-in-Chicago posse.
On Thursday 21 at Reserve in the West Loop, Adams, the 27-year-old designer behind the supergirly Doris Ruth collection, will introduce her fall 2005 line to an invite-only crowd of fashion writers, magazine editors and local boutique owners. And even if Vogue editor Anna Wintour sits in the front row and asks her to move east, Adams is in Chicago for the long-haul.
"I adore Chicago," she says. "I love the Midwestern sensibility that reminds me of my hometown, and I love the nooks and crannies that remind me of New York. It's the perfect balance."
Growing up in Minnesota, Adams knew fashion was in her future. She started designing her own intricately beaded figure-skating costumes when she was eight years old, and got her first subscription to Vogue in elementary school. She later created her own apparel and textile design major at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis/St. Paul. Her inspiration? Her grandmother, Doris, whose name she borrowed for the collection.
After moving to Chicago in 2001, Adams began designing in her tiny Roscoe Village apartment. "I started hitting vintage stores and stocking up on printed scarves, skirts, pieces of jewelry—all the items I played dress-up with," she says.
She set up shop in her dining room and literally began designing pieces right on her own body, "cutting skirts apart to make tops, stitching scarves to make skirts..." Adams recalls. Since then, her designs have been featured in Lucky, Redbook, The New York Times and even Women's Wear Daily, the bible of the fashion industry. And it doesn't hurt that celebrities like Carmen Electra have been photographed wearing her creations. Recently, the stylist from Desperate Housewives asked Adams to send some clothes for Eva Longoria.
But for now she's just looking forward to introducing her fall "Valley of the Dolls" collection to Chicago. In the past, she's used bright hues like pink, yellow and turquoise on her cocktail dresses and sexy shirts. But this time she's going for a more regal vibe with deep colors like royal blue, emerald and gold, along with lots of lace, rhinestones and shimmer chiffon.
"It's definitely my most sophisticated line so far."—Korey Karnes
Doris Ruth is sold at Red Head Boutique, 3450 N Southport Ave between Roscoe St and Cornelia Ave (773-325-9898).