On Friday May 8th, the School of The Art Institute of Chicago hosted, WALK 2015, their annual fashion show and benefit at Millennium Park, Co-Chaired by Ellen Sandor and Stephanie Sick, where the sophomore-senior class showcased their collections. Following the fashion show was the after party at the Harris Theatre rooftop, but first let’s talk about the show.
The night began with a cocktail reception before guests were ushered to their seats to take in the digital-visual performance, THE DOLLS, by renowned artist Claudia Hart before the runway show began. The sophomore collections kicked off the runway portion of the show. Most of the student designers took an avant-garde approach in their collections, with some focused solely on menswear while others incorporated both selections for men and women in their collections.
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The senior class showcased a range of collections that reflected their personal style and unique fashion perspectives. Overall, if there was one collection that was best in show, it would have to be that of senior Samantha Sipos who showed a strong, cohesive collection drawing a rousing applause from the audience and many inquiries after. While the point of the show is for the students to showcase their talents cultivated through their time at SAIC, it should go without saying that fashion is a business and though being artistic and free is what creators do, being able to have a buyer see a collection and want to place an order or a consumer ready to buy, is key.
Some of the junior designers like Emma Leppo focused solely on menswear while other select students embellished their pieces with Swarvoski crystals, as part of the brand’s continued partnership with SAIC. Zeshi Xiang’s sportswear collection has potential; Jennifer Rice collection seemed to have had some Game of Thrones influence. Martha Vandemortel’s collection was giving Max Mara flavor. The junior collections, as it was last year was surprisingly stronger than the senior class’ collection.
The sophomore students were given white cotton material to use in experimenting with the many different techniques of draping and pattern drafting methods.
This year, Swarovski returned as presenting sponsor which meant several students had the opportunity to incorporate crystals and bling to their collection. When the students took their final walk down the runway, for some it means the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. The talent of the students at SAIC cannot be denied and the faculty helping them grow their skills were also recognized during the show.
Following the runway show, brief remarks from SAIC president Walter Massey and Swarovski, Gloria Groom, the evening’s emcee introduced the honoree, Diane Pernet. The International fashion blogger, critic, and filmmaker of A Shaded View on Fashion was the leading lady of the evening as she received the Legend of Fashion award. Pernet is known globally as one of the first online fashion bloggers and is highly respected as a fashion critic. The fashion show ended with a short and sweet speech from Pernet herself, as she thanked the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for the award, voice hoarsed told the audience, she could only say a few words because she was “exhausted.”
Following the fashion event, the night continued with a strolling dinner and after party at the Harris Theatre rooftop where the fashionable crowd got to enjoy cocktails from the open bar, different selections of sushi, dumplings, nutella crepes, and music. Stylish guests spotted on the scene included Azeeza Khan, Kristen Noel Crawley, Nicola Jackson and Daniel Hildebrand, Eda Davidman, Jena Gambaccini, Whitney Bischel, student designers Samantha Sipos and Carley Callis and many more.
Ed note: This is one fashion event that I look forward to covering every year, but this year felt a bit off. Perhaps it was the pouring rain that dampened the mood, maybe its the fact that Diane Pernet is not really a household name even for some fashion bloggers or mayyybe WALK competed with a few other high ticket events going on that weekend. It’s hard to top the show Nick Cave put on last year. Some of the awards past honorees have included Rodarte, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave to name a few; not quite household names in a larger sense but well known in the fashion community especially here in Chicago where the fashion community is not as strong as say NYC. Even Chicago’s major fashion doyenne, Ikram, though attended did not stick around for the after party. Also the city needs to do a better job of rallying around the next gen of fashion. The talent within SAIC rivals Parsons, SCAD even FIT but once the students are done they flee to NYC because they are welcome with open arms. We are the 3rd largest market in the country, fashion should be a BIG deal here.
Knowing that it’s a fashion show and a fundraiser/party, an unsolicited suggestion would be to bring in a Chicago affiliated designer; i.e Brian Atwood who is traditional but also very social/digital; book a known DJ (DJ Kiss, Hannah Bronfman, DJWS), charge a lesser price for the “after event” it would be massive! ~Bolaji
photo credit: Onasis Odelmo/SociaLifeChicago