From Horacio Nieto's fall/winter '09 collection
From Horacio Nieto's fall/winter '09 collection Credit: Tutto Bene Photography

The city-sponsored Fashion Focus event returns for its fifth year, and while it’s down to just four days, they’re packed with runway shows, shopping events, seminars for industry hopefuls, and more.

Running concurrently is Independent Retail Week, which started Monday, October 19, with daily sales and events to encourage you to spend your money with locally owned businesses. Nolcha, the fashion marketing company behind the effort, is hosting “hot spots” where you can pick up a map and schedule as well as swag and samples; you can also download the guide (but not the swag) at

Highlights follow; for Fashion Focus event updates and additional programs (including Sunday’s free seminars on international sourcing, finding a job in fashion, starting a fashion business, and marketing and sales strategies) see or call 312-744-2400.


Style Stop Each day during Fashion Focus, this space hosts trunk shows, receptions, and displays, offering a chance to meet and talk with designers and check out their work. Also: some discounts. Today it’s Lesley Tempe of Squasht by Les (trendy separates and hats for women, 11 AM-1 PM) and Elda de la Rosa (bridal and evening gowns and special-event dresses, 4-6 PM)  Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph,,

Independent Retail Week Hot Spot With “goodie bag of independent retail treats.” 3-6 PM, Akira, 1814 W. North, 773-489-0818,

Macy’s Presents the Designers of Chicago The department store hosts a runway show featuring spring collections from the six designers-in-residence at its Fashion Incubator (Nora del Busto, Catherine Furio, Cynthia Ryba, Jess Audey, Ashley Zygmunt, and Anna Hovet) as well as those from local labels offered at the store—5p1t, Lauren Lein, Blake Standard, Lara Miller, and Tennille White.  7:30 PM, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North, 201 E. Randolph, RSVPs closed, general admission as space permits at the door.

Abigail Glaum-Lathbury, “Invention and the Obsolete” Known for her conceptual approach to clothes, Abigail Glaum-Lathbury presents her spring collection in a show that addresses “the ideas of identity and sameness” and “the relationship between the audience and model.”  Reception at 8 PM, show at 9, Prairie Production, 1314 W. Randolph, $25 in advance, $30 at the door,

FRIDAY 10/23

Grainger Hall of Gems The museum has polished up its Grainger Hall of Gems in time to reopen today for Fashion Focus. The rehabbed permanent exhibit shows droolworthy jewelry by contemporary designers, including locals Lester Lampert and Ellie Thompson, as well as ancient pieces, Tiffany designs from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, rare stones, and uncut gems in their natural state. The most popular of gems are explored in a temporary exhibit, “The Nature of Diamonds” (through March 28, 2010; advance tickets available at the museum’s Web site).  9 AM-5 PM, Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-9410,, $15, $13 for Chicago residents, diamond exhibit $29 (includes general admission and two other special exhibitions), general admission free on 11/9, 11/11, 11/12, 11/19, 12/2, 12/3, 12/9, 12/10, and 12/14.

Style Stop See Thursday; today’s features are a “Fall Shopping Extravaganza” with Michelle Tan, Veil, Claudia Kleiner Malabar, Juliet Jewelry, Vika, and Randall Hill (11 AM-1 PM; get $25 off a purchase of $100 or more) and Katrin Schnabl (flowy women’s clothing with avant-garde touches, 4-6 PM).  Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph.

Independent Retail Week Hot Spot With swag from French skin-care company Votre Vu.  11 AM-2 PM, Water Tower and Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, Chicago and Michigan.

Local Designers Emerge for the Cure This benefit (a percentage of shopping proceeds go to Process Pink and the National Breast Cancer Foundation) doubles as the first event in the new showroom of local designer Heidi Hess; besides Hess designers featured include Kate Boggiano, Crescendo, Brynn Capella, Killion, Jules, and Objets d’Envy. Get 10-15 percent discounts (or donate savings to the charities) and “special spa services” both days. Stylist Rachel Yeomans will be on hand to dispense tips; Ford models strut some looks from 5 to 7 PM Friday, and there’s a silent auction Saturday at 5 PM. Fri noon-7 PM, Sat 10 AM-6 PM, Heidi Hess Showroom, 210 N. Halsted,

Ellie Thompson, “Tassels and Fringe” Fine jewelry designer Ellie Thompson shows off her art deco-inspired new work in a Gatsby-esque atmosphere and offers a 10 percent discount on in-stock merchandise as well as special deals on custom work. Champagne cocktails and hors d’oeuvres Fri 4-9 PM, open house Sat 10-5 PM, Ellie Thompson + Co., 8 S. Michigan, Suite 2203, RSVP required to 312-263-2264 or

Dress Code Generally the most avant-garde of the Fashion Focus shows, Dress Code brings together students from the city’s fashion-design programs— Columbia College, the Illinois Institute of Art, the International Academy of Design & Technology, and the School of the Art Institute—to show their no-holds-barred experiments on the runway. 7:30 PM, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North, 201 E. Randolph, RSVPs closed, general admission as space permits at the door.

Horacio Nieto Nieto, winner of the 2008 AOL Latino Fashionista Award, shows spring and summer 2010 designs from his eponymous collection for women and Arlo, his label for men. Regular tickets include standing room for the show, cocktails, and a postshow reception; VIP tickets include a reception (7:45-8:45 PM), seating for the show, appetizers, a goodie bag, and an afterparty at Enclave, 213 W. Institute. 9 PM, EnVent Studio, 344 N. Ogden, party follows the presentation, $15, $40 for VIP,


Julia Failey Failey’s jewelry designs, inspired by nature, are made from recycled metal and conflict-free gemstones. Items from her current collection as well as one-of-a-kind creations are 20 percent off.  9 AM-4 PM, Grasshopper 510, 1944 N. Damen, 773-292-0510,

“Technicolor Lover” Akira’s pop-up shop and fashion show features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, free salon services, and giveaways. 10 AM-6 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, rooftop terrace, 205 E. Randolph, 312-324-0348,

Style Stop See Thursday; today’s featured designers are Julie Liu of TZEN Boutique (jewelry inspired by “fashionable women around the globe,” 11 AM-1 PM) and Kahindo Mateene of Modahnik (African-inspired women’s clothing, 4-6 PM, RSVP required to  Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph.

Veronica Riley Martens Vintage Jewelry Trunk Show Jewelry designer Martens invites you to bring in one of your own pieces of vintage or fine jewelry to be reworked or incorporated into a new design. Premade designs of sterling silver and semiprecious gems will also be available for purchase. 11 AM-6 PM, Clever Alice, 1920 N. Damen, 773-276-2444, 11AM-6 PM.

Marty Casey’s Silver Elements Collection The front man for local band the Lovehammers and a favorite on the INXS season of the reality show Rockstar offers his nature-inspired pieces for viewing and purchase; a portion of the proceeds go to plant trees in American Forests’ “Global Releaf” tree-planting program. Noon-4 PM, Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Wing Shop, 159 E. Monroe, 312-443-3583,

Elise Bergman, “Boudoir, Bourgeois and Boheme” At a grand opening for her shop-within-a-shop at Roslyn, Bergman presents her romantic-boho fall and holiday dresses and accessories and takes preorders for her spring 2010 collection. Music by the New Orleans French cafe band Wazozo.  2-4 PM, Roslyn, 2035 N. Damen, 773-489-1311,

Pick Your Poison Presented by B Boutique Lincoln Park’s B Boutique brings fall looks by local designers Alice Berry, Lauren Lein, Tennille White, Lilian Cartwright, Madeline Murphy Rabb, and Michelle Duster to “wine and art boutique” the Poison Cup, for wine tasting and informal modeling. 4-6 PM, the Poison Cup, 1128 W. Armitage, RSVP required to info@b-chicago or 773-665-1102.

Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion Always the most anticipated and popular of Fashion Focus events, the show features emerging designers that Gen Art has singled out as worthy of support. This year they include women’s lines C/Fan, Imaginary People, Kristin Hassan, JLee Silver, and Red Doll by Tatyana; menswear line Dorsia; jewelry lines Emma Carroll Etc and Fab Studio; and Kling Handbags. All tickets include an afterparty at Enclave, 213 W. Institute. Reception at 7 PM, show at 8, Millennium Park, Chase Promenade North, 201 E. Randolph, seated tickets $80-$85 for Gen Art members, $110 for nonmembers, standing tickets $65 for Gen Art members, $75 for non,

Borris Powell Design, “Le Jardin de L’Amour” The self-taught designer shows a spring 2010 collection of women’s clothing, from daywear to evening gowns, that’s romantic, elegant, and classic by turns. 9 PM, EnVent Chicago, 344 N. Ogden, $30, $75 for VIP (includes afterparty),

SUNDAY 10/25

Style Stop See Thursday; today’s featured designers are Priscilla Lopez of Peachy Tan (women’s activewear, 11 AM-1 PM, 25 percent discounts) and Alyse Ziede (jewelry designer, 4-6 PM, 15 percent discounts, RSVP required to  Chicago Tourism Center, 72 E. Randolph.

Vert Couture Show featuring clothing made with environmentally responsible materials and processes. Participating designers include Frei Designs, Mountains of the Moon, Vaute Couture, Bryant McLemore Smith, and Minx Parlor Vintage Refashioning. Proceeds go to the Chicago Fashion Foundation, a nonprofit that provides academic scholarships and educational programming. VIP package includes open-bar reception with appetizers, preferred seating at the show, and goodie bag of “sustainable treats.” VIP reception at 6 PM, show at 7, party at 8, Chicago Cultural Center, Yates Gallery, 78 E. Washington, $25, VIP $100, 800-838-3006,