Desperately Seeking Fashion: Meet Sandy Schreier, the World’s Largest Private Collector of Haute Couture

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Sandy Schreier at the Arts Club

By Vasia Rigou

“I never played dress up the way most young girls do,” declares Sandy Schreier, as her bizarre and fascinating life story starts unfolding at an evening of fashion, champagne and elegance at the Arts Club of Chicago. The extremely well-dressed woman is the world’s largest private collector of couture clothing. The Detroit-born-and-bred legend owns more than 15,000 museum-quality pieces of French couture, American fashion and Hollywood costumes, including some of the most iconic pieces of the twentieth century. She’s also a fashion historian, who has assisted curators of various costume exhibitions at museums worldwide, and the author of three books, “Hollywood Dressed & Undressed: A Century of Cinema Style”; “Hollywood Gets Married”; and her forthcoming autobiography, “Desperately Seeking Fashion.”

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At Home in Chatham: A Bounty of Mid-Century Modern on the South Side, Where the African-American Elite Once “Strutted Their Stuff”

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EricAllixRogers-8650 S. Michigan Ave 2

8650 South Michigan, architect unknown/Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

By Krisann Rehbein

The conversation about preserving mid-century buildings is growing by the day. Generally defined as the era after World War II and through the late 1960s, these buildings are now old enough to be eligible for historic designation—and seem to be getting their just due. Landmarks Illinois, the state’s leading organization for historic preservation, put a select number of mid-century homes on their annual list of “most endangered” buildings this year. And recently, the City of Chicago’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted unanimously to grant landmark status to Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic corn cob towers, Marina City.

On the South Side, a significant collection of mid-century homes are worth adding to the conversation. Located in Chatham, these architecturally significant homes tell a story of the city’s twentieth-century black economic and cultural elite.

8349 S. Calumet, architect Milton Schwartz

8349 South Calumet, architect Milton Schwartz/Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

Chatham—bordered by 79th Street to the north, 87th Street to the south, King Drive to the east and State Street to the west—is striking. Its blocks are filled with bungalows, Georgian revivals, and other solid brick homes. Residential streets are completely uniform, with each house set back exactly the same distance from the sidewalk, creating a visually harmonious streetscape. Block clubs organize the purchase of the distinctive globe street lamps that line front yards. The large front lawns and wide parkways create a feeling of urban regality.

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All Aboard Renovation: The Remaking of Union Station

Interior Architecture, Urban Design No Comments »

By Alan Mammoser

Have you been to Union Station lately? For most who go there, it’s in a rush to catch a train to the ‘burbs, while a few will wait in the crowded concourse for an Amtrak train to St. Louis or Milwaukee, or maybe even to New Orleans. But very few spend time in the Great Hall, which is the grand and long-neglected entryway to the old station.


Union Station. Photo by Alan Mammoser

“It’s the most unappreciated great space in this city,” says Rick Harnish, director of the nonprofit Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MWHSR). A rail advocate and train lover extraordinaire, Harnish praises Amtrak’s plans to upgrade the old station, beginning with a revitalization and repurposing of the Great Hall. But he and other rail advocates want to make the station into something much bigger. For them, the key to understanding Union Station is to see it as much more than a train station. Its importance rivals the airports; it’s a critical node linking Chicago—and the whole Midwest—to the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Keeping It Local

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Fashion journalist Silvia Haupt Kozonova (, who recently moved from Prague to Chicago, was photographed during the most recent spate of warm weather.

What do you think of the style you’ve been seeing on the streets here? How does it compare with the style of your former hometown?
Girls in Chicago are super beautiful, but what is really surprising for me is that I’ve seen more well-dressed guys than girls. Even the concept stores that I have had the chance to visit over here were more oriented to a male customer. It seems like there is a huge space for a “new” business model—independent fashion labels targeting females. Another difference is in the approach toward local designers. Sadly it looks like only famous and posh designers are considered to be the cool ones over here. Although it might be just my personal feeling as a newbie, and I feel like I should start digging deeper. I’m always super interested in the local production and fashion world of every place I’m visiting—it’s already become some kind of habit based on my profession interests.

Could you tell me a bit about your website?

It all started at the beginning of the year 2013, when me and my business partner Katarina Kral launched our website Fashion MAP, focusing on the local fashion designers and sustainable fashion movement in Slovakia and Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia). We have seen a lot of talent and no platform that would be dedicated only to this topic, so we decided to change it by not only bringing reports about what’s going on, but also trying to create a real conversation with our readers, bringing the local fashion world to their daily lives. I think there is this amazing power in fashion journalism—supporting talented people and through their work also the local economy. Thanks to Fashion MAP, which is right now the biggest website about Czech and Slovak local fashion design, I’ve had a chance to meet a lot of amazing people from all around the world. Fashion MAP is the regular media partner of Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Central Europe in Budapest.

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Style Breeds Style: Chicago Fashion Incubator Threads Up

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IllustrationbyAutumn Kimball-LooksByMashaTitievskyAndShrutiKirti

Looks by Masha Titievsky and Shruti Kirti/Illustration: Autumn Kimball

By Isa Giallorenzo

During Fashion Focus CHICago this October, the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) presented a collection of twenty looks designed by its current residents and some of its alumni. In partnership with Skoog Productions and the Virgin Hotels, the show took place at the chic Commons Club in an event entitled “Fashion Meets Music.” Attendees lounged along the cushy eatery and bar while models sashayed around them, providing everyone with a front-row view. Perfectly in sync with the vibe of the event, the creations featured on the runway exuded a modern and sophisticated tone, in part thanks to the vision of CFI’s design director Andrea Reynders. We caught up with her after the show.

How did the idea to start the Chicago Fashion Incubator come about?
In 2007, the CFI was started as an initiative by Mayor Daley to promote fashion in the city and encourage emerging designers to stay and work in and around Chicago. The mayor enticed Macy’s to give us a space to work in where the designers-in-residence share office space as well as a 2,000-square-foot studio. The Chicago Fashion Incubator was then established as a nonprofit 501(c)3, supported by grants, sponsorship and donors. Read the rest of this entry »

Seconding the River: Perkins+Will Plan Interventions along Chicago’s Second Coast

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“Grid | River | Landmark,” submitted by Silas Haslam and Yanwen Xiao of Perkins+Will’s Washington, DC office, was awarded first price in the DLC contest.

“Grid | River | Landmark,” submitted by Silas Haslam and Yanwen Xiao of Perkins+Will’s Washington, DC office, was awarded first prize in the DLC contest.

By Aaron Rose

Every year, architecture firm Perkins+Will, known for its commitment to sustainability and innovative research and design, hosts an annual competition where emerging talent and tested experience meet in a love-fest-cum-merciless-critique of ideas and plans.

Now in its thirteenth year, the competition, overseen by the firm’s Design Leadership Council (DLC), is open to young architects across its twenty-four national and international offices. This year, the competition takes on added value and visibility as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, in an exhibition titled “The Second City’s Second Coast: An Intervention Along the Chicago River,” in partnership with the MAS Studio exhibition, “BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago.”

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WRAP It Up: Local Architecture Firm Enlivens the Design of SOFA

Architecture, Events No Comments »

SOFA_NewPierPathBy Philip Berger

When the Museum of Contemporary Art announced its investment in a new master plan, accompanied by a general rebranding campaign, some observers grumbled that the institution could have done better by investing the money in acquiring and exhibiting more art. The criticism may have had some merit, but despite MCA’s strong and diverse programming over the years, the reality is that many would-be visitors are put off by what they perceive as the institution’s impenetrability—particularly the fortress-like hulk of its home on Mies van der Rohe Way. What’s the point of having great art if you can’t get people in to see it?

It’s a question that organizers of the SOFA Chicago expo (an acronym for Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art and Design) have similarly focused on for its twenty-second edition, which runs November 5-8 at Navy Pier.

While SOFA director Donna Davies reports that sales and attendance have improved at the event since the bleak years following the 2008 recession, the changes at the show don’t respond to any specific complaints. “No one was screaming for a new floor plan,” said Davies. “But we saw that, after twenty-two years, we needed to improve the fair experience.” The new approach would better reflect the fair’s character.

“We wanted to change the way people approached the fair, as an exhibit of three dimensional materials and objects,” Davies explained.

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Chicago Looks: Clean and Classic

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SIX4 Creative ( principal and media personality Ryan Beshel ( was attending The Fashion Brunch during Fashion Focus CHICago.

You always look so dapper! What’s your secret?
No secrets here! I wear clothes that tell a story about me on that certain day. I find style to be a powerful tool of perception—and I use clothing to create a reaction in others. I like to play with that perception, depending on the day.

What story are you telling?
I know that when I go to a city fashion event, I want to represent a more dressed-up Ryan. That event isn’t about me—it’s about the talent in the industry, so I went with a more classic palette—rather than showing off all my tattoos and such, which causes a certain level of attention. I played with my favorite colors and always love to break the “rules” of fashion though there aren’t any real rules anymore—so wearing a bit of brown with black adds a good contrast to the outfit and a pop of blue adds some freshness.

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Maker Beat: Burner Makers

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By Michael Workman

Stroll past the back of the Everlasting Fire Studio on Lincoln Avenue, just south of Foster, on any given early evening and you are likely to encounter two people sitting side-by-side, blue-flame torches flickering, eyes covered with a pair of black-lensed welding goggles. This duo is Elektra Musich and John Landin, the owners and operators of the studio, open for just a little over a year now. After initially meeting while taking classes at the Lill Street art complex, they bonded over a shared love of glass and eventually decided to open their own mom-and-pop shop. Offering a range of classes and facilities for others, the pair make their own glasswork using a technique of torch-based manipulation called “lampworking,” a pre-modern technique that was the dominant mode in the ancient world. Done originally by burning oil, these days the systems use gas or propane to heat and reduce glass rods to a molten state that can then be manipulated and combined with other colored glass to produce paperweights, beads and other types of small objects and sculptures.

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Affordable Modern: Blast from the Past

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By Krisann K. Rehbein

Although the city, in the throes of the biennial, is engaged in a full-throated, future-oriented discussion about architecture, it’s worth looking at the work of architects past to learn the lessons of the legacy they’ve left, especially when thinking of a typology in seemingly ever higher-demand: affordable housing.

As a disclaimer, this is a story about my home. I live in affordable housing. Well, technically, housing that was designed by architects to be affordable to people of modest incomes, and remains so today.

The eighty-eight-unit Lunt Lake Apartment buildings are midcentury-modern cool: high-density housing built for the masses. Designed by the firm of Holsman, Holsman, Klekamp and Taylor (HHK&T) in 1949, the collection of three buildings sit east of Sheridan Road in Rogers Park; two nine-story buildings and a four-story walk-up. With structural brick exterior walls, thick, precast concrete window frames, and diagonal balconies, they are unlike other high-rise developments of the period. Distinct, but not fancy.

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