(1) Serpico silk gathered shirt dress, $380; (2) Dieterbennet wool mélange cropped tab front jacket, $415; faille zigzag box pleat pencil skirt, $335; pima cotton blouse, $235; (3) Ori’en “Audrey” satin long trench-coat dress, $350; satin cropped jacket (underneath) $160.
Using strong lines and a bold black-and- white palette infused with primary colors, Art Institute of Chicago alum Melissa Serpico evokes a vibrant minimalism reminiscent of a Mondrian painting. “I’m inspired by modern art and architecture, especially Cubist,” says the lifelong Chicagoan, 31, a former graphic designer who launched her women’s sportswear line last fall.
Find Serpico at Bess & Loie, 1015 W. Lake St.; 312-226-2247; Serpico studio, 1932 S. Halsted St.; 312-265-6236
Take talent; multiply by two. Dieter Kirkwood, 29, and Bennett Cousins, 28, married their creative visions when a Columbia College prof noticed the duo’s strikingly compatible design styles. Stressing impeccable tailoring and clean, unfettered shapes, their women’s daywear line recalls Narciso Rodriguez. Says Cousins: “Our clothes have a quiet luxury—hidden subtleties like dart manipulation, that no one but the wearer notices.”
Find DieterBennet at Jake, 939 N. Rush, 312-664-5553 and other locations
Hong Kong import Cyndi Chan recoils from the avant-garde in an industry that typically applauds it. “I’m inspired by Old World glamour—cultural icons like Katherine Hepburn,” says Chan, 31, whose ready-to-wear collection was picked up by Macy’s State Street for fall. “My style is classic iconic chic with a contemporary twist.”
Find Ori’en at Malabar, 1880 N. Damen Ave., 773-321-6685; Casa de Soul, 1919 W. Division St., 773-252-2520; Macy’s State Street, 111 N. State St., 312-781-1000
Photography: Josie Miner; Hair: joseph bartucci for salon buzz; Make-up: alfred lester/ford chicago