As the Around Town editor, I get invited to a slew of fund-raising events, many of which are unspeakably dull. Some, on the other hand, are pleasant enough, and they support a beneficent cause, so I can’t complain.
But last Wednesday I went to a particularly enjoyable fete benefiting the School of the Art Institute's Chicago’s Fashion Resource Center. Gillion Carrara, head of the Resource Center, organized the soiree and themed it Chanel Noel—after the Parisian designer. This French motif was thoughtfully carried throughout. Artful brie cheese and chocolate matched the location (Alliance Francais) which matched the talks: Gioia Diliberto read from her new novel on Chanel, The Collection, and Chicago History Museum’s fashion curator Tim Long discussed the essence of Parisian haute couture.
After the lectures, Carrara, perhaps the most entertaining eccentric in Chicago (she once allegedly pronounced mayonnaise “moo-ah-naazzz” to pep-up a talk on Scaparelli), fluttered around the room, draped in black and her signature round glasses, told everyone within earshot of her French accent, “You must try the haute coco!” She was, literally, referring to the hot chocolate catered by the French Pastry School, which was so delicious I’ve since been futilely attempting to recreate it using heaping spoonfuls of Swiss Miss.
If you want a similar experience (sans the catered food and French theme) you can check out the SAIC’s Fashion Resource Center, which is like playing in a a huge closet filled with apparel by Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawabuko and Martin Margiela among others. Admission includes an introduction to the collection which, if you’re lucky, will be made by the local fashion icon Carrera herself. Admission by appointment: $20, $100 group of 12. Call 312-899-1215.