Fashion

Monochromatic Burgundy: Fall 2012 Trend Report

By Katlyn Frymire

As we enter fall 2012, we have been overwhelmed by all the amazing textures, color palettes, and shapes that make up this season’s trends.  It can be confusing for any one person to know how to wear these trends, where to purchase them, and how to integrate what you already have in your closet to maximize your wardrobe. Our quick guide tells you what the trend is, how to wear it, and where to buy it, making your fall shopping trip effortless and easy!

The TOP TRENDS: Peplums, Fur and Leather Accents, Gold, Geometric Prints, and Burgundy

PEPLUMS- A style that is a bit of a retro throwback from the 80’s that cinches in the waist and makes any woman look feminine and sophisticated.  This trend is being shown on dresses, skirts, and tops, but we love the style in a leather peplum tank with skinny jeans and a killer pair of platform heels.

Spend vs. Steal: Robert Rodriguez Leather Combo Flare Top from Intermix $495 vs. Tinley Road Vegan Leather Peplum Top $98 from Piperlime

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUR ACCENTS:  Fur whether real or faux is always in for Fall and Winter, but this season it is being done a little differently and a little more fun.  From everything to fur collared sweaters to fur peplum dresses, you really can’t go wrong with a little fur addition to your outfit.  A leather and fur combination jacket is the ulitimate luxe look to take any outfit from regular to super chic.

Spend vs. Steal-Helmut Lang Flux Fur Jacket $1,895 from Intermix vs. Leather and Fur Combo Jacket $299 from Zara

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold- Glamorous gold accessories from jewelry to belts to handbags are definitely the hot metallic for the season.  We recommend a large gold statement necklace that can be worn from day to night with any type of outfit.

Spend vs. Steal: Alexis Bittar Bel Air Gold Sculptural Collar Necklace $250 from Bloomingdale’s vs. Adia Kibur Gold & Enamel Necklace $55 from Shopbop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geometric Print- This trend brings back a bit of nostalgia from the 1960’s with everything from small geometric shapes and pattern to large bold ones.   A long-sleeve day to night dress that easy for layering is a great way to wear this.  If you really want to be daring try mixing prints together.

Spend vs. Steal- Torn by Ronny Kobo Long Sleeve Knit Dress $288 from Intermix vs. Fir Gro Panel Midi Dress $48 from Nordstrom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burgundy- This rich, luxurious color is being shown on EVERYTHING this season.  We are really into a monochromatic look, using all one color but mixing fabrics for one cohesive, funky look.  If you need anything in burgundy, it should be a pair of waxed skinny jeans that have a leather look appearance.

Spend vs. Steal:  Urban Outfitters BLANKNYC Faux Leather Legging $88.00 vs J Brand Coated Skinny Jeans $235

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo courtesy of Peter Som Runway 2012

Katlyn Frymire is a stylist and client relations manager at Lookstyle.net.

 

Eliminating Excess Fashion

By Robert Luce

Celebrities ascend to fashion fame or infamy due to the trendsetting visions of their stylists. One of those stylists, Kellie L. Trumper, will be holding a fashion seminar in Chicago on Tuesday, September 18 at The HAUTE Spot. Guests will receive a one-on­‐one style consultation with Trumper, and a make-­up artist and professional photographer will be on hand for each guests make-­over photo op.  We sat down with Trumper to discuss clothing essentials for fall, personal style and her favorite celebrity client, LeAnn Rimes.

How did your career as stylist began and from where it took off to the stage where you are now?

It started over a decade a go at Neiman Marcus were I fell in love with fashion.  Over the next 10 years I worked at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Ave, David Yurman, and Intermix all while attending grad school and earning my masters degree. Working in multiple high end retailers educated me on the ins-outs of the industry and forced me to truly make STRONG and long lasting connections with my clients as I moved from store to store and from state to state.  I realized that I had a gift for styling when I looked around and everyone was complaining about his or her job and I was having the time of my life. I knew then this was what I was meant to do.

After many clients requested my styling expertise outside of the retail store environment, I realized a need for this service for the everyday person and I started to develop the concept of Lookstyle.  Once Lookstyle was born, all the clients that I had nurtured over many years followed.  It was through all that I had learned and absorbed from the past decade that helped me to formulate our mission of giving excellent service, being honest, loyal and trustworthy.  This is what makes me stand out as a stylist.

Do you style by intuition or by a lot of planning, research, and forethought?

Difficult question because it depends on the client I am styling.  In general, I’m a planner.  I like to forecast the trends as I SEE FIT for my clients.  I use my gut on a regular basis when I am personally styling a client you have to be able to read the energy and mood of your clients as you are styling them. If they are uncomfortable, or “just not feeling it” you need to be able to step in a fix the fashion conundrum quickly and without hesitation.  Having planned and done your homework on upcoming trends, you are able to use this knowledge in that moment because you are educated on ALL things fashion, whether that is at Saks or the Gap, you have to have fashion answers fast.

Who was your favorite celebrity to style and why?

LeAnn Rimes. She and I have been working together for years and it is always fun when a new season is upon us.  We have such fun looking at style previews and lookbooks and planning out some of our must-haves for the season.  She has a great energy and a perfect athletic body where everything looks good on her.  She also is similar to me in that we both like to take fashion “risks”.  We like to go outside of the fashion box and attempt to really showcase her personality and zest for life on stage and off.   We trust in one another and this is the basis for a great style partnership.  We celebrate in great fashion moments as well as laugh together when the ‘world’ didn’t quite get our latest fashion risk.  We have great synergy and not only does that make for a great friendship, but a fun style environment as well.

Can you tell us your most memorable styling job and why?

Yes. It was a client that wanted a “pretty women weekend” on Rodeo Drive.  She flew us in her private jet to LA and we planned private shopping/viewing at boutiques, lunches at the Ivy, hair and makeup every morning and night, dinners out at the “best” places.  She had never given herself such a treat and she loved every minute!  We had mapped out the store she may have liked and literally had a road map of shopping for the day with car service, champagne and private shopping.  We took care of EVERY detail. She was so thrilled with the lifestyle concierge service and the personal styling service we provided on site!   We had an incredible 4 days! It truly brings me so much joy to make someone THAT confident and happy.

What are your top five clothing essentials to buy for fall?

1. I’m obsessed with the HIGH SHINE trend for fall therefore a waxed or leather pant by Rag and Bone is a must!

2. Tassel Earrings by Oscar de la Renta. This is reflective of the renaissance tread but I also feel it will be a staple piece of jewelry for many years to come.

3. Velvet Smoking Shoe by Stubbs & Wootton. I’m so in love with this menswear inspired shoe!  I wear my ALL THE time.  Traveling as much as I do, these are trendy, comfortable, and they go with just about any outfit.

4. A mixed print top by Equipment.  There is nothing better than a top that can be worn a million ways. A mixed print top allows you to play off one or more colors lending itself to be dressy, casual, layer able and so much more!

5. Rag and Bone Newbury Ankle Bootie! Can’t get enough of this shoe. It comes in EVERY color and they are the best accessory for fall!

Can you describe your personal style and how you personalize your outfit?

My personal style is not necessarily defined by what’s on trend for that season.  Am I inspired every season? YES of course, but more for the “it” item that will last me a lifetime. I wear what I feel good in. My style tends to be Boho– jeans, a blousy oversized silk blouse, layered necklaces and flat shoes with a crossbody bag. I guess you could call it a uniform for my workdays. On the weekends, I am a complete chameleon.  This is when FALL TRENDS TAKE OVER…I love to play up different vibes, ROCKER on night, PREPPY another… I love that fashion can give you a different personality for the night! Ps. I also wear NARS red lips 99% of the time.

What can people expect at this event? Why should they attend?

Being a stylist comes with the connotation that I “only work with the rich and famous”.  This is simply not true.  I work with everyone from stay at home moms, to young professionals seeking a new career path and want to look the part, and to NBA athletes and singers and everyone in between.  This event/seminar is an opportunity to share with everyone that I am here to assist you on your fashion needs.  You don’t have to be a “somebody” to work with a stylist.

I consider myself like a professor of fashion.  This seminar is a Fashion 101 course. Everything is a learning process and this seminar starts that process. It is an opportunity for new clients to learn about trends in a very comfortable, fun environment with no pressure! I have hosted seminars before and the clients that attend love it because they get to ask a professional stylist questions like, ” How to wear these ankle boots? Do I roll my jeans or tuck them into the boots?” It’s an open forum to ask your burning fashion questions!

Fashion Exposed: A Fall Preview Seminar takes place on Tuesday, September 18 from 6 pm to 8 pm at The HAUTE Spot showroom in River West. Guests will enjoy lite bites and bubbly. Tickets are $35 and can be pre-purchased at fashionexposed.eventbright.com. More information can be found at Lookstyle.net.

Kellie Trumper & LeAnn Rimes

Kellie Trumper & LeAnn Rimes


Luv Aj Designs: the ultimate accessory

By Allison Duncan

When Amanda Thomas of Luv Aj jewelry browsed Los Angeles’ Fred Segal a few years ago, she had no idea it would change her life forever. She had spent most of her high school years interning for a jewelry designer in Venice, CA who taught her how to make custom jewelry. She then browsed flea markets in her free time to find vintage chains and charms, eventually making her own pieces.

Thomas says she is inspired by materials and loves to pick out the chains for her collections, sometimes not even knowing what she is making when she chooses them. She uses both new and vintage chains and picks out different colors, different plating. Thomas says she likes to experiment, to just gather materials and create.

“My friends in high school would ask me to make them jewelry,” says Thomas. “I usually wore my own designs and one day I was shopping in Fred Segal when a buyer for the store asked about my necklace. When I told her that I had made it myself, she asked me to bring in more jewelry. They picked up my entire collection when I was a sophomore in high school—only 16-years-old.”

From that point on, Thomas started making more jewelry, and by the time she had graduated high school, all of the major Los Angeles’ boutiques had started selling her designs. Born and raised in the area, Thomas stayed in the city to attend the Otis College of Art and Design where she studied graphic design.

“I interned at Who What Wear and did freelance work for Rachel Zoe,” says Thomas. “I wasn’t sure if graphic design was right for me so I decided to pursue jewelry when I was done with school.”

Her employers at Who What Wear had noticed her jewelry and when she completed her internship with the company, they asked her to send a lookbook and linesheets of her latest creations.

“I had everything on their desk within two weeks and they ended up wanting to dedicate a story to my jewelry,” says Thomas. “The morning the story was published, I was contacted by Shopbop, Nordstrom and 50 other boutiques. They all wanted to pick up the line.”

Soon thereafter, the Los Angeles Times did a full-page article on Luv Aj jewelry, and Thomas says her line really took off around that time, thanks to Who What Wear. Urban Outfitters then approached Thomas, asking her to design a collection for them.

“Manufacturing an entire collection for Urban Outfitters, where I had shopped my entire life, was really exciting,” says Thomas. “It was definitely a ‘pinch-me’ moment to see my designs featured in one of my favorite stores.”

Having accomplished so much at such a young age, it’s hard for Thomas to pinpoint her proudest achievement. Instead, Thomas says she is grateful to be able to run a successful company at the age of 24, and she explains that she never thought she’d be in the position she’s in today.

But it hasn’t always been easy. When she first started her business, Thomas made a lot of expensive mistakes in production, and she wishes she had done more research, especially with manufacturers.

“Running a company can be overwhelming,” says Thomas. “You have to wear a lot of hats – be your own PR person, your own shipper, be on your toes all the time. And you have to be assertive. A lot of times when you start working with new people, you’re the little fish in the sea, at the bottom of the totem pole. You have to work your way up and be a pleasure to work with. If people like working with you, it creates better relationships, ensures longevity and stuff gets done faster.”

Now that Thomas has been in business for a few years, she is looking to expand into other accessories; first handbags, then shoes later. Thomas is hoping to grow her company and hire more employees. In the future, Thomas sees even more diffusion collections.

“Working for yourself is one of the most rewarding experiences a person could have,” says Thomas. “I would encourage anyone to try it, but you have to be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t end at 5 p.m. You can choose to stop, but if you want to be successful, you need to push yourself and make things happen.”

She goes on to explain that it’s important to work ‘smart’ rather than work hard. It’s a matter of utilizing your time efficiently and finding ways to avoid wasting time.

Thomas spends most of her days in the studio going through emails, sending out online orders, visiting one of her multiple manufacturers and checking on samples. She jokes that her life sometimes feels like it revolves around FedEx shipping and that people would be surprised by how often she’s on the computer.

“I actually only spend two weeks of the year designing,” says Thomas. “In June, I designed 50-60 pieces and now they are being made. It’s easier for me to sit down and do it all at once and then release it sporadically throughout the year.”

Thomas’ favorite design is her Crystal Cross necklace, which was inspired by the Givenchy Panther necklace she says she was obsessed with.

“It’s such a good piece,” says Thomas. “Everyone that buys it loves it. I feel like it’s a really solid piece of jewelry.”

But Thomas’ most treasured piece of jewelry is an Alexander McQueen ring that her father gave her for Valentine’s Day a couple years ago; actually, the day after McQueen had died.

“It’s such a special ring,” says Thomas. “It’s a giant gold skull with a huge heart on the top of its head. I wear it every day, and it weighs like five pounds. It has sentimental value, and I feel like it’s signature ‘me.’”

Thomas says she tries to keep her personal designs versatile and as classic as possible so that while they’re still trendy, people can wear them for a few years and no one will know when they bought them.

“I design for the rock & roll edgy chick, a girl that can wear leather pants and a motorcycle jacket,” says Thomas. “But then my sister, who is very preppy, wears my jewelry too. It’s interesting to see her style the pieces in a way that I would never think of. I try not to be too trendy.”

She goes on to explain that Los Angeles is really laid back, a mix of chic and rock & roll girls, an eclectic mix of style that has laid back sensibility. Thomas says she doesn’t take herself seriously and her jewelry is something to have fun and play with, which fits the L.A. aesthetic.

While Thomas says people probably assume that she wears tons of jewelry every day, she actually believes that less is more when it comes to accessories. She thinks that women should spend money on a few good pieces and then wear those all the time.

“I used to spend fifty dollars on about 400 necklaces at Forever 21, but I think girls should curate their jewelry collection,” says Thomas. “Put some money into it because it should last you a lifetime.”

Thomas’ pieces are the ultimate investment—fun and edgy, yet still timeless. And as the Luv Aj collection grows, one can only expect to see bigger and better things in the future.

“You just have to keep moving forward, and it’s really exciting,” says Thomas. “I feel so blessed and happy that my hard work has paid off.”

Chicago Stylist Eric Himel Brings Fashion to the Windy City

By Allison Duncan

Windy City stylist Eric Himel is a blast of fresh air in a business mostly concentrated in New York City and Los Angeles. Himel chose to base his styling company in Chicago because NYC and L.A. were already saturated with stylists. “Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, but it was leaps and bounds behind in terms of style,” says Himel. “People were hungry for it here.”

And Himel has been hungry for a career in fashion his entire life. He began his studies at the Parson’s School of Design in New York City, where Project Runway’s style guru Tim Gunn became one of Himel’s mentors. “Tim Gunn has definitely been a mentor to me throughout my career,” says Himel. “He was a teacher of mine 25 years ago, and I admire him because through his success, he has remained the same person and has kept his integrity.”

Following graduation, Himel moved to Los Angeles where he began his styling career. His business grew steadily so Himel expanded to Chicago, where he is now based and spends the majority of his time. With a roster of celebrity clients like E!’s Giuliana Rancic, The Bachelorette’s Jillian Harris and Windy City Live’s Valerie Warner and Ryan Chiaverini, Himel is one of the most sought after stylists in the city. But his ideal client, he explains, is someone that recognizes they hired Himel for his knowledge and talent and is able to trust him to make them look their best.

“My favorite people to style are those who will benefit deeply not just on the outside,” says Himel. “Anyone who has lost (or gained) weight, divorcees, widows, and people battling/recovering from illness.”

Himel has styled celebrities, editorial shoots for top magazines and newspapers in the Chicagoland area, television segments and events. “Editorial can be like a fantasy,” says Himel. “For television you need to understand patterns, color, lighting and camera angles. Event is the most ‘real’ so you need to make your client look his/her best in real life as well as for photos. I love styling for all the mediums.”

Himel’s extensive styling experience in a variety of channels sets him apart, but Himel also has a fashion philosophy that makes him stand out from the multitude of fashion stylists: that is, the beauty of fashion not only relies on what looks great on the outside, but more importantly the way that fashion makes one feel on the inside. “I don’t look at my competition,” says Himel. “But I think I am successful because I combine a history of fashion design, with an understanding of how garments are made, with objectivity toward other people’s style and bodies. I don’t make it all about me.”

But when asked about himself, Himel explains that his proudest accomplishment to date is being a good friend, son, uncle and brother. And in five years, he hopes to be able to reach the masses through television, radio, books, and his own clothing line featuring accessories as well. “I want to start my own line so looking good won’t be exclusive to people with money,” says Himel. “It’s your right to look good!”

And while looking good is entirely subjective, Himel believes the definition of ‘great style’ is combining a unique mix of different styles, making your look your own by exuding confidence. “My favorite trendsetters do all of the above,” says Himel. “I love Zoe Saldana, Kate Moss and Helen Mirren. They’re all accomplished, have individual looks and are incredibly confident!”

It helps to have a great wardrobe, and Himel loves the aesthetic of a number of designers. “I really have favorite pieces in different collections that span so many designers,” says Himel. “For fall, I am loving Gucci, Ferragamo and Alexander McQueen.” And ultimately, it is Himel’s relationships with designers that give him insider access to the fashion industry, a notoriously difficult field.

“Styling is such a tough business because it is all about balancing personalities and being a great listener,” says Himel. “It is a constant balancing act.” If he had to give advice to an aspiring stylist, Himel counsels them to create a story and then make their client the star of it. And although Himel acknowledges that the styling business presents challenges every day, he loves his career.

“I knew I was going to be a fashion designer my whole life,” says Himel. “When I was younger, there was no such thing as a stylist. In the early 90’s when stylists came of age, I realized it was what I was always meant to be.” And Himel has certainly proven through his unparalleled success that it is always best to trust one’s instincts and follow your dreams.

The Blowout Salon Trend Expands to the Windy City

By Allison Duncan

The newest hair salon to open in Chicago only offers one service, albeit in a variety of ways. Blowtique (1 E. Huron, 312.280.2400), located in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, is the latest blow-dry only salon to open in the United States. Having now been open since the first weekend in June 2012, we spoke with owner Fiona McEntee to learn more about her unique business concept.

McEntee, native to Ireland, grew up working in her mother’s salon in Dublin. “In Ireland, most women get their hair blown-out all the time,” says McEntee. “When I moved to the states, I was surprised by how expensive a blow-out could be and as a result, women would not get it done regularly. Thus, Blowtique was born!” McEntee’s salon offers blowouts at a $35 price-point so women don’t feel guilty about getting their hair styled frequently. One of Blowtique’s founding principles is making the over-priced blowout a thing of the past.

Blowtique has been overwhelmed by its early success. “The first few weeks have been better than we could have imagined,” says McEntee. “We have been booked solid for Saturdays and some evenings during the week. It’s been really great meeting our new clients and neighbors.” McEntee goes on to say that many of their new clients live nearby and have expressed excitement about the easily accessible salon.

Finding the right location for Blowtique was one of the biggest challenges that McEntee encountered in starting her business. They knew they wanted to be downtown around the Magnificent Mile but found it difficult to find the ideal location. However, she says, with some perseverance and a great realtor, they found their flagship salon space and could not be happier.

McEntee has lived in Chicago since moving to the United States and considers the city her second home. She chose to open Blowtique in the city because she loves the friendliness of the people and the laidback Midwestern attitude. “The people in Chicago are second to none,” says McEntee. “That combined with amazing architecture, extreme cleanliness, and a fun and vibrant ambience make Chicago unique.”

Partly in tribute to the city, each style at Blowtique is named after shopping streets in major U.S. metropolitan areas. The ‘Signature Chicago’ look is the Magnificent, which is a classic blowout with lightweight body.

McEntee says customers’ blowout selection has been quite varied so far with many choosing the Magnificent and the Deep Ellum, a southern look of full-bodied curls. McEntee explains that a popular hair trend this summer is ‘hair chalking,’ which involves temporarily coloring partial sections of the hair with your shade of choice, and it later washes out. Blowtique is offering a ‘Festapalooza’ look this summer, braided and tousled, with complimentary hair chalk to keep up with the latest hair trends. But aside from the diversity of blowout options, the typical customer for Blowtique has proven to be every woman.

“Our ideal customer really is everyone,” says McEntee. “Every Blowtique guest is different – they’re all ages and come from all walks of life. We recently did our first ‘petite’ (blowout for children) for a two-year-old!” McEntee expects they will have customers who never style their own hair and take advantage of Blowtique’s ease of scheduling and low price point. She also looks forward to welcoming guests who visit once a week or on special occasions to feel spoiled.

McEntee emphasizes that a blowout is not just for one day, and Blowtique’s experts provide tips and tricks for extending the blowout’s life. Blowtique’s Creative Director Rhona Kane was one of the top stylists in Ireland’s busiest salon before joining the team at Blowtique. “She has recruited and trained an amazing team of stylists and we are so lucky to have her and them,” says McEntee.

McEntee and Kane oversaw an extensive recruitment process to obtain the best stylists for Blowtique. They interviewed potential candidates for a week and completed intensive training modules to ensure they had the best in the business, explains McEntee. “We paired that skill with killer personalities and vibrant energy, and we couldn’t be happier with our amazing team,” says McEntee.

More than just a great team, Blowtique sets itself apart by exclusively offering Oribe products, which recently launched a luxury hair care line. All of the furniture in the salon is custom made, and two of their chandeliers were flown in from Tipperary Crystal in Ireland as a way to incorporate McEntee’s Irish heritage into her new home on State and Huron.

Based on the success of the flagship salon, there are already plans for a Blowtique expansion. “We have already earmarked a few locations, and we expect to be announcing something in the not-so-distant future,” says McEntee. “We love seeing the delight on our clients’ faces as they leave Blowtique with fabulous hair, and we can’t wait to offer our services to more people so they too can be ‘blown away’!”

Blowtique Chicago

Blowtique Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blowtique Chicago

Blowtique Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blowtique Chicago

Blowtique Chicago

Fashion designer Anna Hovet on being the weird kid, sleeping in her backyard and jockin’ on the art kids’ swag

By Jamie DeGraaf

“I used to think I was going to be a doctor when I grew up, but then I realized I would spend the whole time looking at people’s clothes,” explains 26-year-old fashion designer Anna Hovet as she examines the waistband of a coral linen skirt. She leans against a high-top table in her West Town warehouse studio, which has a remarkably tidy wooden floor despite the general explosion of fabric, patterns and sewing paraphernalia on every surface. “I sewed it on backwards,” she sighs, holding up the circle skirt and tromping to fetch her seam ripper. “I don’t have the patience for sewing. Or seam ripping.”

Hovet wears a tee from her signature line with the words Looking For Trouble screen printed in Haitian beneath an illustration of a leggy mademoiselle. Her razzmatazz-red cut-off shorts have a burst of white tie-dye on the back pocket, and her feet are wedged into clear jelly flats. Her unassuming conduct and appearance don’t demand the recognition her success deserves. At 26, she has carved out a career for herself that demands a double take. In 2009, she launched her own line, Anna Hovet Designs, only two years after graduating from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Later that year, she spent six months in the Chicago Fashion Incubator and in 2011 was a contestant on the Kenmore reality series “So You Wanna Be a Designer?” Her designs have been featured on Jennifer Hudson, in Lucky magazine and in the Chicago Tribune. On June 28, she will jumpstart the ROOF Runway series atop the Wit hotel.

“My friends back home in North Dakota think I live this “Sex and the City” life…that I drive around in limos and am some kind of big star—not!” she snorts self-deprecatingly, tearing seams from the linen. “Well, maybe to them I am,” she continues. “But sometimes I miss the country life they live. Sometimes I just want to be able to sleep in my back yard.” Her hair is the hipster dichotomy of mid-length platinum swept across her forehead, with brunette shaved closely around her left ear. Her fresh face is animated and the diamonds in her double pierced ears glint in the sun through the studio windows that stud the exposed brick walls.

Hovet triumphantly holds up the detached waistband, explaining that the fabric was her grandma’s and she is glad to finally have a use for it. The circle skirt, which she deems a simple, fun showpiece, is one of a few new pieces she is designing for the upcoming ROOF fashion show. “Now, let me try and sew this waistband on the right,” she laughs, ambling back over to her sewing station.

Since the age of 10, Hovet knew she wanted to be a designer, enthralled by the stylized outfits of ‘90s hip-hop and R&B music videos as compared to the non-existent fashion scene in North Dakota. “I was the weird girl who wore pink pants; no one knew what to do with me,” she says.

Hunkered over her sewing machine, Hovet gushes about the ROOF show, describing the Wit as her dream venue. She tells a story from years earlier when she was tweeting on the hotel’s beauty and the owner of the Wit tweeted her back, inviting her to do a show sometime. “In my head I was like, ‘Really, you own the Wit? You have, like, four followers,’” Hovet laughs. “Then randomly a few months back I got a call from a manager at the Wit and they wanted me to have a show there! I guess he was legit.”

 “I don’t think the Wit understands how many people I can get to come to a free fashion show—I don’t know if they know what they’re in for,” Hovet chuckles. “But watch me say that now and then I go and it’s just me and the models…” she trails off. For Hovet, the ROOF show will be marketed more toward customers than wholesale buyers because she is in-between seasons and will be putting only her current inventory on the runway. “It’s a little weird for me because I should be showing something more in the future,” Hovet says. “But eh, it’s Chicago— no one cares, they see it on the runway and say, ‘Oh that’s cute!’

ROOF will be showcasing Hovet’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection. The playful, ready-to-wear line was inspired by 1950s comic book characters and Lichtenstein and boasts a lot of color blocking, which Hovet says was her thing long before it become so popular a few years back. “I’ve always loved playing with lines and shapes on the body,” she says, now back at her worktable, trimming the edge of a purple chiffon circle skirt. As with all of Hovet’s collections, her biggest inspiration was streetwear. “I love what the kids wear on the street, the art kids, the things they come up with that aren’t mainstream until three years later.”

However, there is a paradox to her youthful aesthetic. “My style is very young but a lot of young kids can’t afford my prices; I manufacture in Chicago—my price point has to be higher,” she says, almost apologetically. She reaches for a jar of buttons flaunting the Anna Hovet logo, a stylized white heart with a black border on a robin’s egg blue background. “I’m trying to move my style up to an older crowd, and I think, as I get older, my style will mature with me.”

She examines a button, describing how she had ordered 500 before realizing the center-line on the heart was wrongfully extended, a mistake perhaps only noticeable to her. “These are the generic Anna Hovet buttons from China,” she jokes. “I’ll still hand them out. No one will notice,” she shrugs, ever the optimist, as she pushes aside sketches of swimwear designs. “I don’t do swimwear, but I said, ‘Why not throw some fun, sexy show pieces up there as crowd pleasers?’” She holds the chiffon skirt in the air and twirls it around, asking enthusiastically, “Won’t this look beautiful on the rooftop in the wind?’”

As she threads elastic through the skirt waistband, Hovet explains her viewpoint as a designer. “I’m more interested in the concept of art through clothing than ‘fashion.’ I don’t care what the celebrities are wearing; I don’t care about the trends.” She snips the tail of the elastic and brushes back a wayward lock of hair. “Growing up in the country, fashion wasn’t about brand names—we didn’t even know brands—it was more about the actual clothing than stigma fashion,” Hovet shrugs. “I’m interested in clothing as an art medium—everyone wears clothes! Clothing is an art that everyone is into.”

Hovet steps into the purple chiffon and shimmies it over her cut-offs and around her waist. Because she works mainly in stretch fabrics, she never does fittings; she figures as long as the models are between a size 0 and 6, the clothes will fit. “I use myself as a fit model, but then often accidentally make things too short,” she confesses. “Oops, I get to keep all the samples for myself!” 

When she’s not designing, Hovet finds herself rollerblading, going dancing—anywhere, everywhere, all the time (special shout out to Oldies Night at the Cobra Lounge in West Town)—and slowly introducing her fair skin to the sun on trips to North Avenue beach. She’s also got a wild side: she’s into bikes, (as in big, beefy motorcycles), is scheduled to take trapeze lessons next week and plans to go sky-diving later in the month.

As a nearly ten-year resident, Hovet has a love affair with Chicago and can’t sing enough praises for the arts and entertainment scene and her relationships with fellow creatives. She is grateful for the abundant press she gets, saying, “Chicago is very supportive from a media standpoint.” Being located here has made her a more conservative designer. “Were I in N.Y.C or L.A., I’d definitely be making much crazier, funkier stuff. But Chicago is a great place for me right now because I can ship things in and visit L.A. and N.Y, but still live comfortably, have a great personal life and do fashion.”

As Hovet stretches the completed chiffon skirt over a dress form, she fingers a gap in the seam, muttering “Oh, come on, you just have to stay together for the show.” Flouncing the chiffon for volume, Hovet sums up her passion for designing in an expected laissez-faire manner, saying “I’ve learned to just do what I want. I pretty much design clothes that I want to wear and hope that other people want to wear them too.”

Photo by Rachel Hanel

Photo by Rachel Hanel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Rachel Hanel

Photo by Rachel Hanel

The Evolution of Borris Powell

By Allison Duncan

Borris Powell’s evolution as a designer started at a young age, watching his mother dress for any and every occasion, and he has since continued to grow into a world-renowned designer with a unique, classic and clean aesthetic. Powell says that he didn’t pursue fashion; rather, fashion pursued him. Inspired by all things beautiful, Powell’s three muses are his mother, his best girl friend Kenya Patterson, and finally himself.

“My mother will help my thoughts stay clean and classic,” says Powell. “I channel Kenya when I need to see a more youthful and racy look. And I’m quite conservative in dress myself. And then there’s the world that is just full of beauty.” With a variety of influences, Powell imagines the men and women wearing his designs as confident, chic and lovers of attention, but doing nothing to command it… other than wearing his captivating designs, of course.

Powell designs with everyone in mind. “I am currently working on making everyone my target market,” says Powell. “For now, however, my target is an individual that likes to splurge on a piece that we call, ‘an investment piece.’” Powell hopes that anyone and everyone who wants to wear Borris Powell designs will be able to in the future.

In the next five years, Powell sees his brand as becoming a recognized label throughout the world, hopefully as a label that everyone wants to wear. He hopes to expand to having locations in Amsterdam, Milan, London, Moscow, and Paris.

With such lofty goals, it’s no surprise that Powell says there is no such thing as a typical day for him, aside from the daily feeling of running a mad race from sun up to sun down. “I find myself working way more than I find myself not working,” says Powell. “But my work is my playground so, to me, I get to play everyday.”

Although work is pleasure for Powell, he does advise aspiring designers to recognize that fashion design is a business more than an art now. He recommends knowing your voice, knowing what you want to be known for and being hungry for it.

“Once a dear friend of mine by the name of J Wolf told me that you can be the best at everything,” says Powell. “So surround yourself with people that are much stronger than you at your weaknesses, and this is the fastest way to grow your business.”

And while Powell is on the fast track to massive success, he has faced some struggles as a designer. “The struggles for me have been following my crazy dreams in a place where the resources are plentiful,” says Powell. “But this has also turned me into a very resourceful person.”

Having won the Oscar Designer Challenge in 2011, Powell has used his resources wisely. He cites the win as his proudest accomplishment to date, with opening his own studio/showroom space as a close second.

And aside from being resourceful, Powell has had several mentors in his evolution as a designer. Both Christian Dior and Valentino have been a source of inspiration in the design process, and Powell also mentions his family and friends for their constant love and support.

Powell’s mission, however, is to follow in the footsteps of Dior and Valentino. “They knew how to dress women,” says Powell. “It was so effortless. They made every women feel like a princess, and that is my mission. I can only hope that when I’m gone the industry will say the same about me.”

Based on his past accomplishments, one can be confident that Powell will soon join the ranks of his role models.

Photos by Donna Binbek