1. Fashion Focus
Presented by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Fashion Focus draws an average 35,000 guests each year. The four-day event promotes local designers through runway shows, shopping tours, fashion installations, and seminars. The 2009 Fashion Focus will take place this fall.
This trade show caters to buyers of women’s apparel and accessories, setting up shop at the Merchandise Mart for four weekend-long events each year. The shows typically display lines from some 4,000 designers, and opening-night festivities feature fashion shows and cocktails.
3. Macy’s Glamorama
Cyndi Lauper headlined last year’s ’80s-themed Glamorama. Some 3,000 guests attended the event, which features a fashion show at the Chicago Theatre and an over-the-top after-party at Macy’s on State Street. The 2009 Glamorama is scheduled for fall.
4. Shop Chicago
Gen Art Chicago presents Shop Chicago, an event that brings 60 to 75 accessory and apparel vendors to Union Station. The daylong shopping fest, which typically draws 3,000 attendees took place March 21.
5. Rush University Medical Center Fashion Show
The country’s longest-running charitable fashion show, this event turns 83 in 2009. The 2008 presentation, with the theme “Silhouettes,” took place at Symphony Center and drew 1,500 attendees. The 2009 event will take place on October 15.
6. Gold Coast Fashion Awards Show
The Children’s Service Board of Children’s Memorial Hospital presents this runway presentation and competition. The 2008 incarnation raised $500,000. This year’s show will take place September 9 and is expected to draw more than 1,500 guests.
7. McCormick Boys & Girls Club Fashion Show
The McCormick Foundation’s Women’s Auxiliary Board presents this annual benefit. Last year’s 50th anniversary event featured a raffle and a fashion presentation, and took place at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago on May 5.
8. A Day on the Terrace Fashion Show
This event, presented by the Service Club of Chicago, pulled in $30,000 for various charities in 2008. The 2009 event will take place at the Peninsula Chicago on August 3 and is expected to draw 400 attendees.
9. Night of Stars Gala
Chicago’s chapter of Fashion Group International produces the Night of Stars Gala. The event awards style-industry innovators ranging from designers to retailers—past honorees have included jeweler Judith Ripka.
10. Nordstrom Designer Preview
In 2008, this sartorial sneak peek took place at the Chicago History Museum and drew 425 guests. The event featured a tented fashion show and a temporary boutique filled with designs from the likes of Valentino and Stella McCartney.