Presenting NEXT GENERATION Fashion Design Challenge
On October 17, NEXT Fashion Chicago for the third consecutive year held its spectacular fashion show, at the one of the biggest and most famous Chicago venues, Germania Place. The event was produced by Rose Mandel of Mandel Productions and by Associate Producer Marco Foster. This show aimed to highlight both emerging and established designers.
Germania Place, adorned with purple lighting, served as a fitting venue to host one of the city’s favorite fashion shows. Rose Mandel remarked that it has a feel of a “Paris couture house,” influenced by the European style interior design — with its hardwood floors, oversized, elegant chandeliers, two ballrooms, and arched windows.
Once the guests checked in they made their way up the elegant staircase, to be photographed on the red carpet, and enjoyed pre-event cocktail hour at the adjacent ballroom. There they perused featured designer boutiques, had an opportunity to meet the designers, and to shop for latest fashion threads.
The emcees Alicia Roman and Daniella Guzman of NBC-5 Chicago opened the show, and introduced Jonny Imerman of Imerman’s Angels. Imerman Angels is a charity organization that provides support and guidance to cancer patients, and matches cancer patients with survivor of exact same type and stage of cancer. Johnny spoke of his own triumphs and tribulations while battling with testicular cancer. He continued his story about how he was inspired to form his own organization helping those stricken with this devastating disease.
This year’s emerging and established designers were presented in one show, including Tamra Ellingson, Elena Bobysheva, Sarah Church, Gary Gonzalez, Meekis, Niala Conte, Mira Couture, Cleons Clothing Co., and Contessa Bottega. I was particularly proud to see an emerging designer, Russian-born, Elena Bobysheva participate in this show.
Elena’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection presented at the show is stylish, trendy, and yet, has a playful sporty-feel to the pieces. She told me that she was feeling “athletic” and “adventurous” while designing her collection. As a recent graduate, she drew her inspiration for her “feminine sportswear” collection from her Senior Thesis at Columbia College Chicago. She told me that she became a designer because she “realized the power of clothing and the impact clothes can make on our first impressions and on how we communicate our identities to others.” The spirit of adventure was visibly conveyed to the guests as they were amazed by the variety and innovation of the works.
This year’s show presented a NEXT GENERATION Fashion Design Challenge, where 10 local fashion design students, selected by a jury of industry professionals had an opportunity to showcase their creations on the runway. When inquired why Rose Mandel decided to incorporate this challenge into her show, she said that, “this contest gives design students a chance to take their classroom experience and use it in the real world.“ She concluded that, “they are in a scenario dealing with tight deadlines, garment production and everyday stresses of the industry; they truly get a taste of the business.”
At the wrapping up of the show, the students received awards for Fashion Design Challenge:
- 5th place runner-up Robert Noia
- 4th place runner-up Meta McKinney
- 3rd place Valeria Baker
- 2nd place Yoojin Lee
- 1st place Myra Chung
For the grand finale, Corri McFadden, the owner of Edrop-Off Luxury Consignment presented a special award to Pilar Salki, an adjunct faculty professor at Harper College in Fashion Design, for her dedication to her students and for willingness to go beyond the call of duty to ensure that they succeed.
This show keeps on growing every year, and surpassing the attendees’ expectations. With its theatrical production, the feel of an European fashion show, and the aim to support the emerging student designers, the opportunities for its growth become endless.
Photos by Larisa Pevtsova