The School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC) has one of the most renown fashion programs in the country, with an alumni list that includes: Halston, Cynthia Rowley, Lawrence Steele, J. Morgan Puett, Eunwha Kim, Maria Pinto, Gary Graham and Matthew Ames. Known for their high-concept work and embracing of the avant-garde, there’s no question that SAIC fashion designers are incredibly talented – any opportunity to see their wearable art is a distinct treat.
On Friday, SAIC hosted their 76th annual fashion show, FASHION 2010, in Griffin Court of the Art Institute’s Modern Wing. Throughout the day there were a series of runway events showcasing the incredible garments and collections students have been working on throughout the year. The sophomores each showed one piece, adhering to the requirement that it has to be black and white with the addition of a pre-chosen accent color (this year it was gray), and the juniors and seniors presented mini-collections, with the juniors showing 3 looks and the seniors showing 5.
In addition to the 2pm show, there was also THE WALK 2010, a prestigious scholarship gala, which honored Gary Graham with the 2010 SAIC Legend of Fashion Award, as well as NIGHT WALK 2010, a late night fashion show and party that featured 10 pieces from Gary Graham’s fall collection and the best of SAIC student designers. Designer looks from The Ebony Fashion Fair Collection, honoring Eunice W. Johnson, showed as well, featuring looks by Nina Ricci, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, and Valentino.
Having had the distinct pleasure to attend the 9am show, as well as the 2pm show, after-hours of THE WALK, and the NIGHT WALK show, I can confidently say that the event was a rousing success. Keeping in mind that SAIC students engage fashion in a way more consistent with the costume aspects of couture than the wearability of prêt-a-porter, I was so impressed by the incredible explorations of shape, movement, story-telling, and construction.
Abby Thomas Sophmore Design
Julia Covintree Junior Designs
Alexander Simon IV Senior Design
One of my personal favorites included senior William Alexander Simon IV’s collection, which featured a stunning copper wool suit and elegant herringbone overcoat with inspirations coming from “The sleek lines of the Silver Arrow racecars of 1934-39, their drivers, and the elegant spectators.” I was so impressed by senior Rachel Goldberg, who explored “fairytales that have become censored today” in an explosion of period fashion, including a sensational white silk ball gown with a gilded array of gold and silver floral embellishments and long, equally embellished, cape that beautifully extended onto the runway.
Sophomore Andrew Cruz, whose inspiration from “the geometry of cut diamonds juxtaposed with the material’s raw state,” designed an incredible geometrical look with knife pleating featured throughout. The addition of shiny appliqués resembling glass and diamonds truly set his look apart.
Bonnie Alayne Junior Design
For the juniors, I was in love with Bonnie Alayne’s collection of three different wedding dressings, inspired by the idea of a woman with three daughters, and her fantasy about how they might dress on their wedding day. Lace, crystals, chiffon, corsets, silk – I would happily walk down the aisle on my wedding day in any of her gorgeous creations.
THE WALK and NIGHT WALK events were such fun, with designer Gary Graham mingling amongst guests, some of the most amazing personal style I’ve seen in Chicago (why won’t people dress like that EVERY day?!), a fabulous soundtrack of music which set the scene perfectly, and enough food and drink available to have kept the party going long into the night.
Arlene Matthews of twentythirtyforty.net, Gary Graham, Eliane Bugold, Brandon Hansen Frein of twentythirtyforty.net and myself.
Graham’s runway show was spectacular and showcased amazing pieces from his fall collection. A beaded taffeta jacket, gold georgette dress, an embroidered silk velvet jacket and an unbelievable grey needlepoint tapestry coat were some of the standout pieces. A lovely gentleman, I met him with boutique owner Robin Richman who hosted a Gary Graham event on Saturday, where shoppers could meet him and shop his collection.
All in all, the event was a HUGE success, and I had a fabulous time. A huge kudos to SAIC and the designers for sponsoring such an incredible event. Next year, SAIC will be honoring Ikram Goldman with their Legend of Fashion award. I’m already looking forward to it!
Photos: Second City Style