An Interview With Project Runway's Steven Rosengard, Twenty Seven Fabulous Dresses, And Philanthropy. What Could Be Better?

SHE Boutique Fashion Show, Photo courtesy of Gen Art

SHE Boutique and Gen Art Staff with Steven Rosengard, Photo courtesy of Gen Art

Last night Second City Style attended a fashion show and launch party for the upcoming film "27 Dresses". It was more than a simple premiere party, however – it was hosted by SHE Boutique, Gen Art, and the Glass Slipper Project, and attendees could bring in their gently used bridesmaid or prom dresses to donate. Furthermore, everyone who donated was entered in a raffle to win a custom made dress from Project Runway’s Steven Rosengard – and we got to sit down with Steven ourselves to talk about fashion, style inspirations, the differences between Chicago and NYC, and of course, the inside scoop on Project Runway.


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Second City Style contributors Bonnie (left) and Jacqui (right) with Steven Rosengard

SCS: What do you think about Chicago women’s style?  How do they compare to women in New York City?

SR: Chicago women are interesting in that they don’t easily buy into trends or fads. I think New Yorkers are much more eager to trot out this crazy purse or those gold metallic shoes. I think Chicagoans want to know a style is going to stick around for a while before they buy into it. Certainly big-box retailers like H&M and Forever 21 are changing that for the younger generations, but I don’t see Chicago women being to eager to go out on a limb–which is fine by me, because the last thing I want to do is put a client into a dress that will make them ashamed of themselves 20 or 30 years from now.

SCS: We’ve heard that you’re planning to stay in Chicago  – what is it like being a designer here?

SR: Being a designer in Chicago, especially without a storefront and a ready-to-wear line is somewhat difficult. Clients have to come to me via mouth-of-mouth or through my website.(

SCS: What events or fashion shows are you planning in the future?

SR: I have a number of interesting projects in the works right now. At the moment, I’m completing a dress for the Chicago event the Rioja Wines is doing. There are a couple of individual clients I’m working with on their wedding gowns. At the end of the month, I’m emceeing an event at Museum of Science Boston called Seamless, which is all about innovative technology-focused fashion. I’ll also be donating a menswear jacket to the TPAN (Test Positive Awareness Network) event that is coming up in March. I’m also in negotiations with a potential backer for my haute couture line and possibly a men’s ready to wear line. Additionally I’ll be updating my childrenswear pieces for It’s quite a busy time for me, to be sure!  However, I will not be doing any fashion shows as they’re not entirely practical for my purposes of making one-of-a-kind women’s day, cocktail and evening looks.

SCS: Everyone at Second City Style loves Tim Gunn.  What was it like working with him and having him critique your work?

SR: Tim is an incredibly thoughtful man and he genuinely cares about seeing each one of us succeed.

SCS: Who or what are some of your inspirations and style icons?

SR: I have a number of style icons that I draw inspiration from: Kate Hepburn, Faye Dunaway, Grace Kelly, Vionnet, Dior…too many to mention!

SCS: What was your favorite Project Runway moment?  What was your favorite challenge?

SR: My favorite moments were spent laughing with Kit, Chris and Jillian. We had such a wonderful time together. I’d have to say that my favorite challenge was the first one—to me, it was what the show is really all about—"show us who you re as a designer," Heidi said. And I was very confident in the look I put forth. Sometimes I wish they would do an entire season of nothing but that same challenge over and over.

SCS: What are some of your current favorite trends/looks and do you have any fashion advice do you have for Second City Style readers?

SR: I’m very happy that there is still a vintage flair to a lot of clothes that you see coming down the runways, most particularly from the ’30’s and the ’40’s, but the ’80’s just upsets me a great deal. My advice to the readers would be make sure what you’re wearing fits! When you don’t look right in a garment and you are aware of it as well, other people can tell! It’s like sharks smelling blood–you’re going to get chewed to pieces.

SCS: If you could create an ensemble for anyone in the world (actors, musicians, celebrities, etc.), who would it be?

SR: I would love to work with Nicole Kidman or Sarah Jessica Parker. They’re both such incredible women, physically and personally, I can’t imagine it would be anything less than a joy to design something for them.

Based on his classically elegant designs and flair for the dramatic, we are sure that Steven will be working with plenty of incredible women in the future!

—Jacqueline Zenn

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