Stacy-Wallace Albert is a veritable figure on the Chicago fashion scene. The Shopping & Style editor of Chicago magazine as well as a former on-air style editor for CBS 2, she has also parlayed her talents into a successful career as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant. Helping people find their own style, she pares down their closets and discovers pieces that reflect those unique fashion sensibilities. In addition, Stacy maintains her own website, TheFashionEditor.com, which provides â€œfashion resources, advice, and inspirationâ€? to her many friends and fans. Recently, Second City Style got the opportunity to chat with Stacy and learn about her opinions on the Chicago fashion industry and the current fashion initiatives underway by the mayor and the city.
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As a shopping & style editor for Chicago magazine, how has the fashion scene here evolved from when you first began your job?
Well, there’s a lot more designers here, and they’re becoming a lot more savvy about promoting themselves. That does take some time away from their creative process, but I’m happy to see them all coming together now. Plus there are plenty of fabulous accessory labels here too, not to mention make-up companies. One of my favorite new labels now is actually BYA Denim, which makes really well fitting jeans.
Do you think magazines like Chicago magazine have played a role in promoting the fashion industry?
All of the media is behind it. In Chicago, we continue to give designers coverage and we’ve introduced them to the market. We’ve shown their personalities, their talents. Also, I think that the design schools here have had a tremendous impact as well. They’ve been constant and staunch. The many shows they put on involve so many aspects of the industry, from the photographers to the models. In fact, I would actually like to start hearing more about those other individuals like the photographers.
What is your opinion on the current fashion initiatives by the mayor and the Fashion Advisory Council?
I think it’s great that there is one, period. When I started writing about fashion a dozen years ago, we were losing everyone to cities like New York. One of the first organizations we had here was the AIBI, but now that the mayor is making fashion much more â€œsexyâ€?, people are really getting behind it.
Designers have such huge capital expenses. It involves a lot of time and even more money. Anyone who does it should really be receiving support. That’s why the Fashion Advisory Council is so necessary.
Fashion Focus Chicago is different from fashion weeks in other cities. Do you like the way it’s structured, with all the shopping events, seminars, and designer competitions?
Oh sure. We’re still very much in the beginning stages of this, and personally I think they’re making this very much for the customer. In fact, I’d like them to roll back the sales tax a bit during Fashion Focus to encourage people to shop more.
Do you think Fashion Focus will eventually evolve into an event like New York Fashion Week, which is composed almost exclusively of runway shows?
I don’t know. It depends on who we keep here, the quality of their work, and even the theatricality of their productions. There’s nothing like being at a runway show in New York with all the music and the lighting; it indeed feels very much like theater.
But how will this play out? What will this lead to? Should this be an annual event or a bi-annual one? I don’t know. You can’t picture what’s down the line. You just have to wait to see how it evolves. But it will definitely be something that’s unique to Chicago.
Because Fashion Focus is so encompassing and not solely about runway shows, it becomes more difficult to discuss trends and moods like you can do with the fashion weeks in New York and Paris. And so it becomes less of an authority on where fashion is heading. Do you think that this authority is something that will come with time as the event becomes more firmly established?
Sure. At this point, Fashion Focus is more of an educational process- how you can wear clothes, where you can get them, who’s making what. The designers too are learning. Many of them are not mass-produced, so through this, they’ll learn how much business they can sustain as well as different approaches to manufacturing and production.
What’s the biggest benefit for Chicago if it does become a fashion capital?
Money honey! More money being spent. More business coming in, and designers staying put. We already have some amazing retailers here, like Hejfina, Ikram, and Habit, which supports a lot of local talent. It’ll be great to see some more. Chicago already is a retail destination for a lot of people, but it’s a different thing when people from Paris are coming here to shop. These things take time though to evolve, so hopefully in 10 years we’ll be seeing these benefits.
How else do you think Chicago can raise its visibility on the fashion radar?
It has to come down to people getting dressed. New York and Paris have very distinctive styles of dressing, but there is no one style in Chicago. There are many, and the city is still finding its way. Fashion forwardness, until now, hadn’t really been part of the culture of the city. But it has always been experimental, which is a great thing. And there’s also a very wonderful ethnic influence here too.
I want to see someone on Oak Street and feel inspired. People here leave all their good stuff in the closet; they only wear them when they’re traveling outside of Chicago. Wear your good stuff here! We all have something to learn from each other, even visually.
Any other thoughts on the fashion scene here?
As a wardrobe consultant, I think it’s important that people take the time to figure out what their style is. We should have fewer, better things. I have the leanest, meanest closet. It’s really edited back, but I wear and mix everything in it. It’s important that you buy things that make you happy. Buy the $600 coat you love instead of the $150 coat that’s only so-so. You’ll definitely wear it more often.