“Growing up, nobody ever went hungry at our house,” says Julie Darling. “We’re Italian, so we like to entertain.” Her father, Bill, worked in public relations at ComEd, so as early as age 17, Darling (the fetching surname is actually Scottish) found herself shaking mayoral hands and hobnobbing her way around the city. “He taught me how to read people, how to network,” she says. Today, as owner of a firm that offers event planning, marketing, and PR services, Darling is still on the circuit. Her signature auburn mane (the stylist Michael Jacobson of Michael & Michael paints that picture, she says) and elegant posture are hard to miss, even in a room full of fashion followers and models. Her latest idea—to bring back the Oak Street Fashion Show, an A-List event that last raised its tent on the street in 1991—will be a Gold Coast coup if she pulls it off. At home, she cozies up to her 110-pound “bundle of love,” a Newfoundland named Lola. “It might seem like I’m out every night, but people are surprised to learn I’m really kind of a homebody,” she says.
Photograph: Maria Ponce