1. Fashion Focus Chicago
Michelle Tan, Lara Miller, and Orlando Espinoza were just a few of the 100 local designers featured in last year’s October style showcase, presented by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Designed to promote Chicago’s burgeoning fashion scene, the weeklong event features runway shows, shopping tours, seminars, and fashion installations. More than 35,000 people came out for the 2007 activities, which saw high-profile runway events in Millennium Park, while smaller events took place in a variety of venues across the city. Fashion Focus 2008 will be held in October.
Four times a year, this fashion and accessory trade show sets up shop in the Merchandise Mart for a weekend full of runway shows, seminars, exhibits, social events, and parties. Catering to buyers, the gathering puts more than 4,000 different resources on display, ranging from clothing by high-profile designers like Betsey Johnson to items from smaller lines such as Soda Blu. The expo is produced by Merchandise Mart Properties. Future Stylemax 2008 dates include August 9 to 12 and October 18 to 21.
3. Rush University Medical Center
Fashion Show On September 11, this event turns 82, making it the longest-running charitable fashion show in the country. Presented by the Women’s Board of Rush University Medical Center, the show regularly brings out Chicago’s society set, and many join in as volunteer models. Past participants include Joan Cusack, news anchor Kathy Brock, and design guru Nate Berkus. Models walk to the tune of a live orchestra—fitting, as it’s held at the Chicago Symphony Center. The 2007 event drew 1,800 guests and raised $500,000.
4. Gold Coast Fashion Awards Show
Audience vote selects the winner of this fashion award show. The 2007 lineup included looks by designers Phillip Lim and Tory Burch, national labels Ferragamo and Escada, and smaller lines Rena Lange and Behnaz Sarafpour. Held at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, the afternoon event includes cocktails, lunch, and a runway show. It’s the primary fund-raiser for the Children’s Memorial Hospital’s Service Board. A crowd of 1,500 people helped bring in $450,000 at last year’s function. The 2008 event will be held on September 24.
5. McCormick Boys and Girls Club Fashion Show
For the 50th annual event in 2007, the Boys and Girls Club show saw its biggest turnout yet, with more than 400 guests and $190,000 raised to benefit local youth programs. Presented by the McCormick Foundation’s Women’s Auxiliary Board and the Board of Managers, the 2008 event took place May 20 at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago, with a runway show and a raffle.
6. A Day on the Terrace Fashion Show
This event, held on August 1 this year, is thrown by the all-volunteer Service Club of Chicago, the oldest women’s philanthropic organization in Chicago. This summer runway show takes place on the terrace of the Peninsula Hotel with a fashion show featuring looks from local boutiques and national retailers. Models include Service Club volunteers and local celebrities, and year to year the attendance ranges from 300 to 500 people. All proceeds are donated to a variety of community organizations.
7. Night of Stars Gala
On June 12, Chicago’s outpost of Fashion Group International was set to honor an array of Chicago style innovators, trendsetters, and tastemakers in an award ceremony. The 2008 event featured Dennis Basso, Judith Ripka, Baker Furniture, the 900 Shops, and local boutique Jake. The evening on the Peninsula Hotel terrace included a cocktail reception, the award presentation during dinner, and an outdoor terrace after-party hosted by CS magazine and overseen by the publication’s director of marketing, Kelly Berg.
8. Macy’s Glamorama
This star-studded event, which over the past nine years has raised more than $2 million for the Art Institute of Chicago, features a red carpet, a fashion show, a concert, and celebrities galore. Featured designers are A-list, and 2007 saw goods from Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein on the runway at the Chicago Theatre. Country performers the MuzikMafia (with Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, and Cowboy Troy) headlined. The after-party featured celebrities and attendees alike enjoying cocktails and a barbecue-themed menu on the seventh floor of Macy’s, which took on a country-western look. Glamorama 2008 takes place August 22.
9. Nordstrom Designer Preview
This retail event features designs from 14 luxury labels (think Valentino, Blumarine, Badgley Mischka, and Stella McCartney) taking the stage in a high-energy fashion show, as well as an on-site boutique where guests can scoop up samples fresh from the runway. Held at the Chicago History Museum, the 2007 event featured hors d’oeuvres before the show, as well as a postshow champagne and dessert reception. Proceeds benefit the Costume Council of the Historical Society. The 2008 event took place on June 24.
10. Shop Chicago
Presented by Gen Art on March 29, this shopping event showcases up-and-coming local designers. The 2008 lineup packed the great hall of Union Station with booths from more than 80 clothing and accessory designers (including Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Haji Couture) and 4,000 attendees. The on-site Beauty Lounge offered hair, nail, and spa treatments, while an exclusive V.I.P. lounge featured champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and gift bags. The event is overseen by Gen Art special events director Laura Lachman.
Presented by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, this sold-out inaugural event on March 28, held in the Conservatory’s Horticulture Hall, treated 350 guests to a fashion show featuring the work of florists who were asked to design outfits created completely out of flowers. The Meetinghouse Companies provided the production for the event. Models from Ford and Elite donned the botanical duds, Salon Blu provided hair and makeup, milliner students from the School of the Art Institute provided floral hats, and NBC5 anchor LeeAnn Trotter hosted.