It wouldn’t take long to guess that models were somehow involved glancing at the line outside of the Griffin Lounge Friday night. Devastatingly tall women filed into the lounge’s dark space for Factor Women’s holiday party, where the main room yielded more models, friends and well wishers. Attendees, some in suits, others in skyscraper heels, dallied in booths in the dimly lit lounge and sipped free drinks among the beautiful faces that grace magazine pages and runway shows. Some danced tastefully along to the pop anthems the DJ spun out, while others enthusiastically crowded the table where model Holly Bartle accepted donations for her charity initiative that betters classroom conditions in areas of Ghana and Togo.
After nearly thirty years in the business, owner and president Jane Stewart of Elite Chicago has separated from the international Elite modeling network, which boasts thirty-six agencies worldwide. Along with her devoted staff and clients, Stewart has rebranded Elite Chicago as Factor Women, a women’s-only boutique agency.
“We are looking to brand ourselves specifically as a fashion women’s agency,” says Kasia Koniar, the new agency’s public relations representative. “It is crucial in an ever-evolving environment to constantly reinvent oneself. Factor Women, an exclusive women’s agency, will offer high-fashion boutique management for our models with access to broader markets. We have a strong, experienced presence in Chicago and Atlanta. As the fashion world has changed we felt it was necessary to move in a different direction to better service these changes.”
Koniar says that Stewart and her staff are not completely severing ties with Elite and its network, however. “We did not split off from Elite Chicago and Elite Atlanta—we transformed into a new boutique agency,” she says. “We continue to work with the Elite Network.”
Famous for discovering iconic supermodels like Liya Kebade, Cindy Crawford and, most recently, Karlie Kloss, Elite Chicago has been a strong force in Chicago fashion since its inception in 1982. According to an Elite representative, while the company will continue to work with Factor Women, there are no current plans to open another agency in Chicago. (Emily Torem)