Five questions for Melissa Gamble, director of fashion for the City of Chicago:
Q: This year’s Fashion Focus is so much bigger than it has been before. Is there an event that really stands out to you?
A: I think it’s the quality of the overall programming. If you take a look at the fashion shows, the lecture series, and exhibitions, you see that we have a really strong year.
Q: How many local designers are showing their work throughout the week?
A: About a hundred. We work with the Apparel Industry Board, Gen Art, and other organizations to pull together the designers. We’re all out there looking for great talent.
Q: How do you personally prepare for a week of events like this? Do you have a favorite place to shop?
A: I don’t shop. I used to spend a lot of time going to the neighborhoods and walking and now [because her job has gotten so busy] I have to make an effort. I do try to buy and wear Chicago designers. There is so much talent here that people don’t realize!
Q: I’m trying to put a definition to Chicago style. Is there a definite city aesthetic?
A: Not really. There are a number of different people that we work with, and no one can really say. Chicago fashion is elusive; you can’t pin it down. It’s not like California, where if you say someone is a California designer, there is a certain look.
Q: Who are you wearing tonight?
A: I’m wearing a Melanie Nicole stretch jersey [Gamble is pregnant] that I can wear now with leggings and later on, too. I like to wear things that I can comfortably work in. I don’t have time to go home and change.