World Fashion Chicago, an event designed to showcase the city’s Sister Cities program (October 2), oozed with admirable ambition. Chicago has twenty-seven official “sister cities,” including the style meccas of Paris and Milan, so why not have a show that conveys the global nature of fashion, and Chicago’s place within?
Unfortunately, the project was far too overwhelming to properly execute. Some cities were represented by Chicago designers who created looks drawing inspiration from a particular city, sometimes subtly, sometimes like costumes for a B movie. On the other hand, some Chicago designers simply represented their ethnic backgrounds by showing from their general collections. Six designers actually brought their designs from their far-flung cities, ranging from Amman, Jordan to Casablanca, Morocco. And in a few cases, models wore clothes from international designers who needed little exposure, like Escada and Dolce & Gabbana. Needless to say, the range and styles were literally all over the map.
The resulting show was a cacophonous hoot of excess without cohesion. Several cities, inexplicably, were even represented by multiple designers. Add to that the “commercial” presentation of looks designed by talented Chicago comers Agga B, Melissa Serpico, Evil Kitty and Anna Fong for Toyota’s “space-age” I-Real project, and you had a show that would defy anyone trying to actually take anything actionable (i.e., to buy the clothes or learn more about a designer) away from the runway. And we didn’t even mention that “Project Runway” contestant Steven Rosengard showed up to represent Hamburg, Germany. Eventually, we put our pens away and just enjoyed the show. (Brian Hieggelke)