Curator of Architecture and Design, Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago has only one museum with an active, full-time architecture and design department, and it is led by Zoë Ryan at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since she became chair of the department, in 2011, Ryan has curated significant exhibitions on contemporary design, including “Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects” and “Fashioning the Object: Bless, Boudicca, and Sandra Backlund.” Ryan’s exhibitions always have an experimental and experiential interior design component, in which she shows visitors that exhibition design can be an art itself.
President, Factor Women Model Management
Twenty-eight years after launching the careers of heavyweights like Cindy Crawford and Liya Kebede, Jane Stewart, owner and president of Elite Chicago, parted ways with the agency’s New York-based network, founding the independent boutique agency Factor in 2009. Based in Chicago and Atlanta, Factor focuses on high fashion, with its models gracing magazine pages and advertisements around the world, like the new campaign for Louis Vuitton that features Factor’s Bria Condon. As an independent, Factor is now able to spread its wings globally, as it will when casting directors and agencies from across North America and Europe check out its New Gen show designed to launch the fresh faces of fashion. In addition to Factor, Stewart operates Chosen, a men’s agency, and the talent agency, Stewart Talent.
Founder, Segura Inc.
When entertainment firms need visual work that advances their identity, or when more staid corporations want visual work that makes them seem more entertaining, they turn to Carlos Segura, who was named one of the world’s best 100 graphic designers by Taschen Books in 2004. In addition to his edgy design work, Segura is also well known for his T-26 digital type foundry, which he started in 1994 and has since become the largest independent source of fonts, with more than 2,000 styles. Lately, he’s been exploring the intersection of design with another of his passions, transportation, through web sites exploring car, bike and motorcycle emblems, logos and graphics.
Founder, Dose Market and The Haute Closet
It’s kind of impossible to talk about fashion in Chicago without talking about April Francis. The University of Michigan alumnus has turned the Windy City style scene upside down in nearly every way possible since transplanting here as a stylist, an entrepreneur (Francis founded both The Haute Closet, a styling company, and Dose Market, a monthly market showcase of fashion, food and more), a model, a reality star (Francis starred in last summer’s “3” on CBS), and a professor at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches—what else?—a course on the Business of Fashion.
When it comes to retail, Ashley Zisook has the Midas touch. In less than five years, she’s turned her Gold Coast boutique, Sofia, into the Chicago shopping destination to the stars (her client roster includes such names as Rachel Zoe, Maria Menounos, LeAnn Rimes, Nicole Richie, Faith Hill—need we go on?), opened a Malibu pop-up version of her Chicago store, and relocated the store’s home base from Oak Street to Walton—all in a recession, no less. Huh.
Design & Production Director, The University of Chicago Press
Jill Shimabukuro is regularly featured in Print magazine’s regional design annual awards for her work as creative director of the University of Chicago Press, the largest press of any university in the US. In an age of dwindling book sales, Shimabukuro knows how to keep cover art relevant and alluring, an especially refreshing idea for the normally staid confines of an academic press. And she oversees a team, like senior designer Isaac Tobin, who share her vision.
Interim Director, Chicago Fashion Incubator
One of the most tangible products of Mayor Daley’s Fashion Initiative, CFI is housed on Macy’s State Street’s eleventh floor, in a 2,375-square-foot workshop, office and showroom space that evokes “Project Runway.” Especially since each year six designers are offered residencies to help them launch or grow their businesses. Event and fashion-show producer Amy Olson took over leadership of the Incubator from the popular local designer Lara Miller, under whose tenure CFI alumni include the likes of future design stars AGGA B, C/FAN and Miriam Cecilia.
Interior Designer and HGTV host
With Oprah gone, Chicago’s toehold on the mass market of anything entertainment-related has slipped about a hundred notches, but local designer Monica Pedersen is doing her part to step into the void. Beyond her appearances on shows like “Live with Regis and Kelly” and NBC’s “Today Show,” she’s had regular gigs as a host for “home-design-porn” channel HGTV, including a regular stint as a designer on the hit show “Designed to Sell” and hosting “Dream Home Giveaway,” “House Hunters Great Escapes,” “Bang for your Buck” and “HGTV Green Home.” Last year she added author to her resume, with her book, “Monica Pedersen Make It Beautiful: Designs and Ideas for Entertaining at Home.”
VP of Media Relations and Cause Marketing at Macy’s North & Midwest Regions
A brief stroll up State Street or Michigan Avenue would make it clear that billions of fashion dollars are being spent in Chicago. Equally clear, however, would be how few of those dollars were being spent with local shops compared to the national retailers. While many of the Chicago outposts of national and international retailers actively cultivate their clients with internal events, only Macy’s actively reaches out to and supports the development of a local fashion industry, with its support of the Chicago Fashion Incubator, local designer trunk shows, a Chicago jewelry department, and its ongoing participation in Fashion Focus Chicago. Plus, its annual Glamorama event is one of Chicago fashion’s big-tent occasions, an accessible see-and-be-seen night on the town and in the store. Andrea Schwartz is front and center with all of these efforts, often the face of Macy’s on the fashion scene, and brings essential continuity to the endeavors: she’s been with the company since 1997, back when it was the beloved Marshall Field’s. In her current role at Macy’s, she has responsibility for 162 stores in fifteen states, but her heart is still in Chicago. And everyone knows it: she was just appointed co-Chair of the Mayor’s Fashion Council for a two-year term.
Owner, Salvage One
A four-story warehouse in the West Loop comprises the holdings of Salvage One, which has single-handedly created the recycled design aesthetic in Chicago interiors. In the wake of its success, a number of imitations have popped up. Salvage One is unique because they’re a lot more than just a used furniture shop; they also carry remnants of architectural interiors and facades, and in reselling them they’ve kept a portion of Chicago design history alive.