From top: Basia Frossard; Frossard displays a Dolce & Gabbana design in a closet at home; her heels of many colors; a silk-blend dress from her collection for last fall; styles from her fall and spring lines; looking at a portfolio from her student days

The Chicago designer Basia Frossard is flipping through a photo album, pointing to images of clothing that she created as a child in Poland. “I was sewing by the age of ten,” she explains. “My friends would always ask me to make dresses for them, and I would say, ‘No, I don’t want anyone else to dress like me.'”

Thirty years later, with a degree from the International Academy of Merchandising and Design in Chicago, Frossard has warmed up to the idea of sharing. Last fall, she launched a namesake line of feminine blouses, tulip-skirted dresses, and empire-waist coats. The Chicago shops Clever Alice and Koros promptly placed orders. And recently, Frossard opened a studio at 1715 West Ohio Street, where she sees clients by appointment.

To show me the highlights of her wardrobe, she takes me to her East Village apartment nearby. Candy-colored heels line the shelves in one closet, and gorgeous coats from Sonia Rykiel and Jean Paul Gaultier hang in another. But what pleases Frossard the most is her collection of more than 50 tops. “Did you see this vintage one?” she asks, waving a froth of ivory silk with a Victorian collar.

By day, Frossard lives in jeans, “with fitted jackets if I have meetings,” she says. At night, she goes for glamour, pairing one of her slinky satin blouses with wide-legged trousers. Marc Jacobs, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, and Comme des Garçons are among her favorite sources for tops.

What’s new for spring from her studio? “I’m designing a lot of dresses with empire waists,” Frossard says. “I think they’re really beautiful and have such grace. I guess to some extent I’m still thinking about myself when I design.”

No one is complaining about that.


Frossard says:

The Basics: “I never believe in matching. I believe in separates. Even when I have the chance to buy suits, I just buy parts of them.”
Something Special: “My green Kenzo coat with flower appliqués.” • “The Chanel purse that was a gift.” • “The Suzanne Grignard coat that my French ex-mother-in-law made me buy. It was one of the biggest splurges of my life!”
Favorite Heels: Gucci-“Great fit.” • Miu Miu-“I love the chunkiness combined with the slick elegance.” • Michael Kors-“Like running around with slippers on.” • Lisa Nading-“Light as feathers and amazing workmanship.”
Favorite Designer: “Chanel-she was her own inspiration, an original.”
Style Tips: “Every woman should have great shirts and good jackets. I love pearls for evening and big rings.” • “I don’t like it when women wear too much decoration-‘parrots,’ my ex-mother-in-law used to call them.” • “Keep everything that is special-clothes are an investment.”

Frossard’s designs can be found at Clever Alice, 2248 North Clark Street; Koros, 1019 West Lake Street; and the designer’s studio, by appointment, 312-226-5321.


Photos: Top Anna Knott, All others Elisabeth Fourmont