Artist and Blogger Alanna Zaritz (drawnandcoutured.com) was shot by a mural on 16th Street in Pilsen.
What does fashion mean to you?
My interest started with going to Goodwill as a child and discussing fabric and construction with my mom. She’s Chicago’s first female firefighter but she encouraged my curiosity about historical costuming. I’m really into parsing social signifiers and can get pretty “inside baseball” about designers. One of my favorite expressions is “ça promet la menade,” by Lacan, which means “the clothes promise debauchery.”
What style magazines and sites do you go to for inspiration?
I work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, so my inspiration comes more from painting, sculpture and architecture. I’m a city kid and I totally ride for working-class functionality, and that old Chicago punk culture. I watch the runway and read Poetry magazine; not so much about emulating trends, unless we’re talking art-damage or deconstruction.
Any fashion books and movies you recommend?
Milena Canonero, Eiko Ishioka, Colleen Atwood are all design heroes. I love Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Metropolis, Barry Lyndon and Julie Taymor’s Titus. I soak up a lot of emotion from illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham and Erte. X-Men, ElfQuest and the Sandman series were aesthetically huge to me, because style conveys character.
Who are your favorite designers?
Off the top of my head: Vionnet, Madame Gres, Olivier Theyskens, Dries Van Noten, Paul Poiret, Phillip Lim, Christopher Kane, Miguel Adrover, Proenza Schouler, Gaultier, Haider Ackerman, Olivier Rousteing, Riccardo Tisci… I also love what Christian Joy and Nicola Formichetti do for Karen O and Gaga, respectively. A romantic feeling versus a clean silhouette. The medieval and ornate versus athletic and minimalist. The futurism of the twenties is seductive, but I also want to be able to dance in whatever.
Where is the best place to find designer pieces at good prices here in Chicago?
The kids at Buffalo Exchange know me by name, and they have a sense of what I’m looking for, which is collectible stuff. Almost everything I own is secondhand, sifted from the Goodwill—I do a bunch of modifying and tailoring. Traveling anywhere involves vintage hunting. I spent years designing costumes and wearing them to school and got bullied for being a weirdo. Now if I’m not at the museum I’m doing creative projects or collaborating with friends.
—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo