Free to the public, the Chicago Fashion Fest seeks to introduce a young audience to fashion with a multi-platform all-day extravaganza equipped with numerous runways, dancers, food and beverage and a “shopping village” for enthusiasts to purvey.
As the fest approaches its fourth birthday, I caught up with founder Michelle Gomez.
How did you come up with the idea for this event?
I’ve been producing fashion shows from when I was in high school and studied fashion design and production at IADT. Fashion Fest came about four years ago with the idea to collaborate with local businesses, designers and music artists for an all-day outdoor fashion and music show. Fashion Fest gives everyone an opportunity to expose their talents and products to a large audience in one day.
What does the planning process for this event look like?
Fashion Fest started small in 2009—we basically took our production from inside to outside. As the years have passed it has grown into a huge production. There has been a lot of planning and designing that has gone into the stage, lighting and sound, the stage this year is bigger and brighter for a spectacular presentation. Our model team is amazing all local ladies and gentlemen who may not be in agencies, but they rock the runway! Our models represent a variety of heights, sizes, shapes and colors…
How do you secure vendors?
We did start word-of-mouth with only ten vendors… this year our footprint only accommodates twenty spaces for vendors. I do welcome back past participants but try to honor my concept in giving up-and-coming businesses and designers an opportunity to showcase their work. There is so much talent out there it’s hard to choose at times, but next year we are hoping to expand and have more support to grow the footprint and have double the vendors we have now.
Does incorporating music and art into the event make fashion more accessible to the general public?
Chicago Fashion Fest gives the public the chance to see what a designer envisions their designs to look like on a live body verses a hanger. Fashion Fest brings in more awareness and business to the neighborhood boutiques, restaurants and salons. What you see on the runway will be available to the consumer at local businesses and our vendors’ booths.
Our guests will experience five types of shows throughout the day, starting with a Zumba Class at 11am, Kids Rock! At 1pm, Teens In Style at 2pm, Last Call Sidewalk Sale on the Runway at 3pm and 4pm, and then the main event, Wicker Park After Dark, when the local fashion designers showcase their collections. (Jenny Yoon)
Saturday, August 25, noon-10pm, 1725 West Division, (773)772-2772.