Construction workers stood shoulder to shoulder with meter maids, tourists and office workers on their lunch breaks as they all paused to watch Ford models strut the catwalk in Daley Plaza under the bright afternoon sun. The event, held July 22-23, was the second annual Chicago Sidewalk Sale and Fashion Show hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Melissa Gamble, the city’s fashion czar and director at the aforementioned department, said, “We want to bring a section of the population in contact with some of the wonderful Chicago designers and boutiques that they might not usually be exposed to.”
The fashion show, somewhere incongruous in the hot midday sun, was a welcome change for the spectators.
“This is so much fun! Just look at all these booths!” said one woman on her lunch break, watching the show.
On top of the catwalk, the Sidewalk Sale featured booths from Chicago designers and boutiques like Dollybird Design, She Beads, LuDia Couture Designs, Objets d’Envy and Veronica Riley Martens. New to the event this year were The Tie Bar and Lee Allison, both menswear designers and vendors. The booths sold a variety of merchandise but mostly accessories, handbags and ties. Very popular were handmade jewelry and beadwork. One standout, Tonya Gross Millinery, had sculpturally designed and vintage-inspired headwear, the kind of hats you might wear to Easter service or a fancy wedding. Most of the booths had items priced a little lower than you might find in the boutiques themselves, in deference to the lunchtime crowd.
The vendors were mobbed with shoppers looking for bargains and oohing and aahing over the dresses, jewelry and purses. A featured booth from DIY handbag boutique 1154 LILL Studio showed their pre-designed bags and wallets and explained their hook to passersby—they host bachelorette and design-a-purse parties.
The Sidewalk Sale helps Chicago gear up for the biggest fashion event of the season, Fashion Focus 2008, which takes place October 1-8 and will feature networking events for industry professionals, seminars and fashion installations all around the city. (Beth Dugan)