By Isa Giallorenzo
Anna Brown‘s Spring/Summer 2017 Postage Due collection was inspired by Victorian mail carriers and the formal portraits that were taken of them in uniform, on postage stamps and handwritten correspondence.
“My silhouette is menswear/workwear inspired, intended to be fluidly layered,” Brown says. “I favored natural fibers with an interesting hand, such as a hemp, silk and organic cotton blend that has a beautiful crisp feel and drape for spring. I used an ultra-lightweight cotton with a color sensitive coating for a jacket, which causes it to darken slightly in bright sunlight.”
Anna’s minimal yet feminine designs are perfect for a sophisticated capsule wardrobe, with smart pieces that can be dressed up or down according to the occasion. A designer-in-residence at the Chicago Fashion Incubator since 2015, Brown has professionalized her approach to building and presenting a collection, an experience she considers “transformational.”
What kind of woman do you design for?
A woman who wants to make a statement, but doesn’t necessarily want her clothes to do it for her! She’s an independent, contemporary woman who doesn’t really have categories of clothes (going-out clothes or work clothes), but rather has a wardrobe for her modern, creative life.
What do you think makes your designs stand out?
Hundreds of hours go into the concept, design, patterning, sampling and sewing of each piece. This undivided attention shows in the finished product; they’re modern, creative pieces that are elegant enough for any situation, but also suitable for everyday life.
What inspires your creations in general?
I’m inspired by a wide range of visual influences. I’m very interested in historical men’s uniforms, and the cues they offer for contemporary ease in womenswear. But most importantly, I’m inspired by what a modern woman really wants to wear, and I try to create clothing that supports her individuality rather than speaking too loudly for her.
What has your experience at the Chicago Fashion Incubator been like?
It’s been transformational for me as a designer and as an entrepreneur. With the CFI’s help, I’ve really professionalized my approach to building a collection, and it’s dramatically changed my understanding of how to present it to a customer.
Brown’s garments retail for $200-$550, reflecting a small-batch production made locally in Chicago. The pieces can be purchased at p45 boutique in Bucktown, at Orleans + Winder in Detroit, and online at anna-brown.com.
The perfect complement for Anna Brown’s contemporary and down-to-earth designs, Gillion Carrara’s accessories are greatly inspired by the natural materials she finds from the most diverse sources—such as a man in Italy who made smoking pipes out of briar roots, or a wood turner who was willing to sell old ebony (now rare). Gillion’s work is currently represented by Gallery 19 (4839 North Damen). More info at gillioncarrara.com. And since we needed some kicks at the last minute, City Soles, a local shop founded in 1991, came in handy with their free same-day delivery all over Chicago. More info at citysoles.com.
Model: Alyssa Martinez, poet, artist, and cultural organizer (alyssahydemartinez.com / @alyssahydemartinez)
Photographer: Isa Giallorenzo (chicagolooks.blogspot.com / @chicagolooks)
Make-up artist: Thalita Paiva (thalitabeauty.com / @_thalitabeauty)
Location: Salvage One, a converted warehouse with an enclosed garden courtyard that doubles as an events space and an antique store. More info at salvageone.com.
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.