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The Three Best Shows at Chicago Fashion Week 2014

Missed out on Chicago Fashion Week? We’ve got you covered.

Christina Karin’s runway show.   Photo: Jaleesa Key.

Last week, Chicago Fashion Week kicked off at the Chicago Cultural Center. Hosted by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Mayor’s Fashion Council, the five-day celebration of the city’s art and fashion industries featured industry standbys such as Chicago Fashion Incubator, Digital Youth Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Missed it? Don’t worry. We attended and found the most interesting new designs from the city.

Christina Karin’s Runway Show

The Art of Fashion Runway Show, now in its eighth year, filled Millennium Park on Friday night with A-list Chicago designers, including Spring 2015 looks from Voyeur by Vex, Shernett Swaby, and J.Toor. The most spectacular looks came from Christina Karin’s collection: She unapologetically shook things up with mismatched prints, incorporating floral blouses with stripe skirts and a striped crisscross halter top with winter white sheer pants.

The Sanford-Brown College Students

Wednesday’s Revolution Runway Show, presented by Sanford-Brown College (formerly the International Academy of Design and Technology), showcased looks from the school’s juniors, seniors, and graduate students. The theme paid homage to pop art, and models took to the catwalk in rainbow-colored wigs. They carried cutout, picket-like signs exclaiming “Pop,” “Pow,” “Wham,” to further drive home that whole pop art theme.

Mamie Kapend, one of the graduate students, brought designs from her line, Yasika Mode. Her aesthetic focuses on African prints with a mod twist, and pieces included fitted dresses color-blocked with bright patterns. Another student, Oluwadamilare Adenaike, stuck out as well: Her collection featured an eye-grabbing black and leather boat neck dress that graces the mid-thigh and incorporates gold metal hoops dangling all the way to the ankle.

The SAIC Street Style Show

Hosted by Brother Mike Hawkins of Digital Youth Network, this runway show featured emerging designers and students from the CPS City of Learning program. The night’s most striking designs came compliments of the students at the Art Institute. African-American male models strutted the runway in black hoodies and black jeans and raised their hands in the air to recognize and pay their respect to the killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Another dazzler was a strapless A-line dress studded with pieces of laminated magazine paper. Steam Studio’s collection showcased some really impressive graphics tees—in hues of red, black, white, and gray—as well. Prints showcased images ranging from Billie Holiday to civil rights activist Nina Simone. Emerging rappers and emcees provided a lively soundtrack, and Brother Mike Hawkins spoke to the city’s violence epidemic. “I don’t see Chi-raq,” he said. “I see Chi-renaissance.”

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