The Mayor mugs for the camera with the six designers in residence. From left: Mallory, Coxworth, Raya, Wachowska, German, and Hassan.

Project Runway is over for the season, and I’m looking to fill the Heidi Klum-shaped void in my life. Lucky for me—and you, too—the Chicago Fashion Incubator launched at Macy’s on State last night, affording us the opportunity to follow the careers of six local designers from the classroom to the selling floor. The group (Glenn Mallory, Kate Coxworth, Agga B. Raya, Lidia Wachowska, Kristin Rosynek Hassan, and Yana German) shares three 11th floor offices in the State Street store, plus a stark workspace full of long cutting tables, dress forms, and row upon row of sewing machines. It’s the whole package—minus the TimGunn. The Incubator is a collaborative effort between Macy’s and the city, and Mayor Daley himself stopped by to share a very few words about his goals for the program: “to give [the designers] the help they need to succeed in fashion in Chicago—and to keep them here. If we’re going to be really a global city, the fashion industry has to be part of that image.”

The TV Cameras gave the most nods to Mallory, the only male in the group, for his modern urban line 6ACE. But I prefer Raya’s clean, arty designs, and Wachowska’s playful and provocative Evil Kitty line.

The designers will have access to this workspace, plus showrooms and a set curriculum of seminars and workshops, during their year in the Incubator.

Raya mingles with friends at the launch party, which was packed with media, Macy’s staff, and Chicago’s fashion czar (and new mom!) Melissa Gamble. Look for Raya’s line, Agga B, at Gamma Player (2035 W. Division St., 773-235-0755).

Wachowska displays selected designs in the office she shares with Raya. Look for her work at See More Shopping Boutique (175 W. Jackson Blvd., 312-360-1344).


Photography: Anne Halliday