Art School Gala Draws Larger Crowd, Support From Swarovski

By Jenny Berg May 11, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Photo: Robert Carl

School of the Art Institute of Chicago's "The Walk" Gala
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The School of the Art Institute of Chicago hosted its annual fashion show and gala on Thursday. Starting with a dress rehearsal at 9 a.m. and then including two afternoon shows, as well as an evening gala dubbed “The Walk,” the event's overall attendance was 2,500. Sarah Malin, director of development at the school's office of institutional advancement, planned the ambitious happening with Sandy Jaggi DiPasquale, director of development for leadership and legacy gifts, and Zach Overley, assistant director of development events. 

The evening gala portion included a repeat rendition of the 75-minute fashion show, a presentation of the “Legend of Fashion” award to boutique owner and stylist Ikram Goldman, and a Blue Plate-catered dinner in a Millennium Park tent decorated by Event Creative. About 650 guests were in attendance—last year, the event drew only 400 attendees.

According to planners, the increased attendance was due in part to the event's high-profile honoree. “Many guests were there to support and congratulate Ikram Goldman,” Malin said.

Goldman, recently profiled in The New York Times and a onetime style adviser to Michelle Obama, has a fashion-world influence that extends beyond Chicago. At the Thursday night award presentation, front-row guests included personal friends Sally Singer, editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, designer Jason Wu (the force behind the first lady's white Inauguration Night gown), Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, and Jenna Lyons, J. Crew's president and creative director.

To accommodate the larger crowd size, planners moved the event to Millennium Park—last year, it took place at the smaller Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. They also enlisted Event Creative to assist with event management. Headphone-wearing staffers from the company were on hand to check in guests, lead them to their seats, and direct them to the after-party in a neighboring tent.

Swarovski acted as presenting sponsor for the first time this year. In that capacity, the company provided jewelry for the fashion design students to deconstruct and use in their garments for the fashion show. They also developed a full-tuition Swarovski Scholarship, which Gina Watson, director of stores west for Swarovski, presented to sophomore student Ana Leon at the event. The scholarship will fund Leon's entire junior-year tuition. Other major sponsors included the MacLean family.

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