Scarlet Designs screen-printed ball gown skirt, $2,499, E. Oak St.,; 312-860-0261.

The stone-faced owl that perches atop the Harold Washington Library might seem a strange muse for a fashion designer creating a billowing ball skirt. But inspiration, as they say, often comes from the most unusual of places.

“I wanted a standout piece” says Beth Lambert, who collaborated with photographer Stan Malinowski on this skirt—as lovely as it is architectural.

As head of Scarlet Designs, a custom design house newly opened on Oak Street, Lambert is but one of several local fashion ingénues featured in the city’s October extravaganza Fashion Focus. The week of runway shows starts October 9th and runs through the 14th in a tent in Millennium Park. Visit for details.


Photograph: Erika Dufour