Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy's
Six designers have been chosen for the third year of The Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) at Macy's on State Street. The designers will be given the opportunity to learn the economics, marketing and merchandising of fashion from industry experts as well as mentors from Macy's and the broader fashion community.
The Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) at Macy's on State Street provides each of the six emerging Chicago-based designers with the resources, including workspace, curriculum and mentoring, to launch their careers in fashion. The Designers in Residence (DIR) are provided office space, including computers and software; a workshop room with sample production space and resource section; and a showroom.
DIR are required to complete a core curriculum of workshops and seminars conducted at the Incubator location at Macy's on State Street for the duration of a one-year period starting in March 2010. CFI is part of the Mayor's Fashion Initiative, which supports and promotes fashion designers living and working in Chicago through events, seminars and city programs.
Young, fresh and motivated, these six Designers In Residence are taking the Windy City by storm. Find out more about the Incubator and meet the masterminds behind Macy's newest collections:
Chicago Fashion Incubator Back Story:
According to Macy's Media Relations Officer, Andrea Schwartz, the State St. store and the city have been promoting Chicago's burgeoning fashion industry since 2005, when they presented the first Fashion Focus Chicago event that highlighted both aspiring and established designers. The Incubator soon evolved from this event. Being a national department store operated locally, Macy's has the resources to share equipment and experts with Chicago designers.
Designers from the program's inaugural year are enjoying great success through their experience at the CFI, including partnerships with Toyota - Japan, showing their collections on the runway as part of Fashion Focus Chicago 2008, and gaining a clear vision of what they want to be as designers.
"The first class of designers in residence at the Chicago Fashion Incubator made significant strides in developing their talent and sharpening their business and marketing skills," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "By partnering with a major retailer like Macy's, we're providing local designers with the foundation and knowledge they need to thrive in the fashion industry."
"The success of the inaugural designers has been a testament to the structure of the program," said Ralph Hughes, Vice President of Corporate Communications of Macy's. "When given the curriculum and opportunities, young designers are put in a position to thrive at a crucial stage in their careers."
Christina Fan launched her line, C/FAN, in the Fall of 2008. Fan studied history at Northwestern University but found herself inexplicably attracted to the world of fashion and design. C/FAN began as a collection of winter coasts and basic t-shirts and has since evolved to include Saville Row inspired suiting, diaphanous dresses and separates. The label has garnered a cult following for the luxe, beautiful fabrics and precise, refined tailoring.
C/FAN collections all draw upon various inspirations from the world of art, music, film and pop culture. Each collection has a narrative character or central theme. Influences include the brooding, fierce Dagny Taggart, the illicit Opium dens of 1920's China, the many eccentric characters of Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood and a vintage Claude Montana shirt.
View more of Christina's designs online.
Pictured above: Christina Fan
Donaldo Smith started his fashion career by designing special occasion items for friends. Setting out to build a brand that was worthy of gracing the pages of magazines he envied so much, his collection Killian Gui was born.
Killian Gui is a contemporary Menswear brand that masters the blend of elegant business attire with modern casual wear. Smith hopes to provide his customers with one of the best feelings in the world, which it's is looking great.
View more of Donaldo's designs online.
Pictured above: Donaldo Smith
Jonnie Rettele's hard work and planning helped her realize her dream of launching her own line in 2009, when she left her job to complete the first season of Nonnie Threads. She is motivated by men's desires for functionality, fit, and ambition for modernity,
Nonnie Threads is an homage to the roots of our heritage, priding itself on producing durable, high quality clothing locally in Chicago, IL. By balancing the functional, social, and stylistic needs of men, Nonnie Threads offers the versatility that men demand and is adaptable for anything the day may bring. Nonnie Threads' refined utilitarian look provides distinction for men who feel unique, comfortable, and nuanced in their style.
View more of Jonnie's designs online.
Pictured above: Jonnie Rettele
Leah Fagan's love of the outdoors laid the foundation for her fashion career. Alidade features Leah's trademark look; well-crafted separates, innovative details that are casual, yet polished, and, most importantly, a fabulously comfortable fit.
Alidade is characterized by a fine tuned balance of style and performance. Her pieces offer versatility, while a modern and clean aesthetic delivers timeless designs that can be worn season after season. Indoors or outdoors, casual yet polished, Alidade offers wardrobe essentials that are seamlessly integrated with today's diverse and mobile culture. Articulate and understated, Alidade is the perfect solution for modern urban navigators.
View more of Leah's designs online.
Pictured above: Leah Fagan
Miriam Cecilia Carlson:
Miriam Cecilia Carlson entered the world of fashion when she sketched ball gowns for her paper dolls at the age of three with her mother teaching her how to sew during her adolescent summers. Miriam also spent the summer of 2007 studying abroad in Paris. While in Paris, Miriam was then able to discover her own signature ways to drape and manipulate fabric.
Carlson's fashion line, miriam celilia, is inspired by spontaneous moments found in nature and the transitional function between vast landscapes and the bustling city. Miriam's line ranges from ready-to-wear cocktail dresses and separates to couture hand-sewn gowns. miriam cecilia's pieces can be mixed and matched.
View more of Miriam's designs online.
Pictured above: Miriam Cecilia Carlson
Stephanie Kuhr studied fashion at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating, she has been quietly building a line of vintage-inspired lingerie and foundation wear, named Dottie's Delights, realizing there was a growing need for sophisticated underthings that could shape the body naturally into a more flattering silhouette.
Stephanie is particularly influenced by the sexy, confident, and empowered women of burlesque and pin-up — both from modern and past eras. The utmost attention is paid to high quality and authentic workmanship, making each piece last way beyond the seasonal life expectancy of today’s fashion. Dottie’s Delights caters to a custom clientele ranging from discerning brides, performance artists, and everyday divas but is also scheduled to launch the official collection into stores Spring 2011.
View more of Stephanie's designs online.
Pictured above: Stephanie Kuhr
Chicago Fashion Incubator's Future:
"As with any new organization, we look forward to adding new programs and resources to the Incubator in the future that will benefit not only the designers-in-residence, but also the Chicago fashion community as a whole," said Melissa Gamble, Director of Fashion Arts & Events for the Chicago Office of Tourism.
The Incubator relies 100% on donations and grants for funding; the city feels fortunate to have such dedicated partners and sponsors such as Macy's, Fleishman Hillard, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center & Pepper Construction, who made this project a reality.
"We will continue to grow our public-private partnerships to expand the Incubator to include public seminars and a resource center that provides the latest trend, marketing and educational information to the design community," Gamble said.
For more information on these designers or the Macy's Chicago Fashion Incubator, please visit ChicagoFashionResource.com
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