At the fashion shows for Spring and Summer 2009, designers sent all things exotic down the runways—from rich colors and commingled patterns to ornate beading, reptilian prints and skins, and feathers on dresses, earrings, and shoes. Inspiration came from such distant destinations as Africa and Egypt. Our feature Tribal Tributes, photographed by Brian Doben, brings to life those trends and the gorgeous clothes that evolved from a longing for free-spirited adventure.

Another perceived desire displayed on the runways was for formal designs—not as in fancy but as in clothes that follow the deliberate lines of architecture and sculpture. The photographer Sean Kennedy Santos captures the cool elegance of those inventions in Taking Shape.

Fashionistas followed the stylish moves of Michelle Obama, our new First Lady, throughout the presidential campaign. Maria Pinto, one of Chicago’s leading designers, was the force behind many of Michelle’s most-applauded looks, and we thought it would be fun to ask a few local under-the-radar designers to sketch their own spins on imagined styles for Barack’s belle (Daytime Drama).

And with the economic news cycling cataclysmically, instead of our usual over-the-top Object of Desire, we make a departure with a sparkly, modest-priced pièce de résistance—a bejeweled copper cuff for Target created by the dazzle duo Erickson Beamon . . . yours for only $59.99. The radiant stones in the bracelet seem to endow it with talismanic power—to mark it as a bright-light source that promises a new beginning, different directions, and a way to get back on track.

Stacey Jones
Fashion Director


Photograph: Tom Corbett