Fashion Focus Chicago Overview
By Lauren Strejc

Why hasn’t Chicago ever had a fashion week? I’m not talking about a tribute to fashion. I mean a national-recognized, full-blown week of fashion shows, Chicago and world-renowned designers, buyers, celebrity appearances, seminars, and media acknowledgment.

The closest thing we have had was last fall’s week of events hosted by Marshall Field’s. Calvin Klein, Kelly Gray of St. John, and John Varvatos made appearances, and the Ford Supermodel of the World competition held their US finals on State Street . But while they held the various fashion and trunk shows and celebrity appearances, there was still something missing…the excitement leading up to it, the sense of city involvement.

Simultaneously, another group, The Chicago Fashion Week (not to be confused with, arranged a week of fashion shows held primarily in smoky nightclubs late into the night, and left the working models unpaid and angry. While many of the participating designers enjoyed themselves, I would not classify this event as being worthy of the city’s standards.

Chicago is a clean, beautiful city with a strong arts culture and, despite its location in the Midwest , a great sense of style that should not be overlooked. There are many fashion industry organizations here striving to make Chicago up to par with New York City, so why hasn’t a fashion week taken place?

My small theory was that all of the fashion industry organizations needed to team together to share resources and accomplish their same goals. Which is why I was thrilled when I heard that Mayor Daley and The City of Chicago had joined forces with Marshall Field’s, Gen Art, the Apparel Industry Board, Inc., Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Chicago Fashion Foundation, Chicago Loop Alliance, and four fashion schools: Columbia College Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, the International Academy of Design and Technology and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Together, the organizations launched the first ever 11-day celebration of fashion in our city. Fashion Focus Chicago began on September 19, 2005, and continued until September 29, 2005. Fashion shows, seminars, store openings, and celebrities took part in an event that was worthy of our city. American Express’s IN: CHICAGO card ( was a complimentary sponsor to the celebration, as it is also making its premiere as a new credit card for Chicago clubbing, dining, and other entertainment.

Check out the links below to learn more about the week’s events. And yes, Fashion Focus Chicago will be back!

Sarah Jessica Parker at Marshall Field’s

World of JLo Shop Opening and Jennifer Lopez Appearance

Colorful Evening With Margaret Walch

Gen Art Shop CHICago

Insider Tips For Running A Creative Fashion Business

Conversation With Alexander Julian

Fresh Faces 2005

Want to know about upcoming fashion events in Chicago ? Visit our event section on the web