With Flying Colors: A Designer Showcase at the Chicago Fashion Incubator

Dress: Lola Osire, Shoes: Holly Garrard/Photo: Rachel Hanel

Photo by Rachel Hanel (@rachehanelphoto)
Styled by Sal Yvat (@salsogroovy)
Produced by Anna Hovet (@chicagofashioninc)
Recorded at the Color Factory (@colorfactoryco)

What if “Sex and the City” happened in Chicago? And what if we were subjected to a big paintball attack? This fashion editorial created by the Chicago Fashion Incubator is here to help us answer those pressing questions. Wardrobe stylist Sal Yvat was challenged to create a cohesive aesthetic while mixing garments from eight different designers in residence at CFI. “I was inspired by New York City and how people dress simply but in detail. I thought a lot about Carrie Bradshaw.” The photo backdrop doesn’t get any better than Dopamine: The Color Factory, an interactive art experience at the Willis Tower.

Denim Top: Anna Brown, Pants: Pam Kendall, Shoes: Holly Garrard/Photo: Rachel Hanel

This editorial is one of the initiatives CFI offers to provide valuable experience to its designers-in-residence and alumni. Currently mentoring six local designers who are either building their existing fashion lines or preparing to launch their businesses, the incubator welcomes new designers every quarter and accepts applications throughout the year. Prospective designers must have a fashion business that has been in existence for at least a year, with proof of sales and a clear brand vision. Neither wholesalers nor fashion design students are eligible.

Shirt, dress and skirt: Anna Brown, collared shirt: Pam Kendall/Photo: Rachel Hanel

A beacon of hope for local designers since 2008, the Chicago Fashion Incubator has added the Driehaus Entrepreneurial Center, which has provided its designers-in-residence with educational tools, research and programming since 2017. “CFI offers designers-in-residence access to education, mentors, manufacturers and a physical space to help them launch or develop their fashion lines. Our current designers in residence and former designers are continuously involved in shopping events, fashion shows and other community events, which we promote through our social media. Local fashion designer Jamie Hayes, designer of Production Mode, is our design mentor. “She meets with designers one-on-one to help them manage the design process and come up with selling points,” says CEO Anna Hovet Dias.

Top: Amy Taylor, dyed natural, Pants: Kate VanAsten, Shoes: Holly Garrard/Photo: Rachel Hanel

Hovet Dias cites some other success stories involving their former students, such as Shavonne Dorsey (who sells her clothes on HSN), Alyssa Bertrand (featured in Vogue’s “The United States of Fashion”) and Project Runway contestants Rakan Shams Aldeen, Kahindo Mateene and Katelyn Pankoke. “CFI helps by supporting and promoting my dream. It’s wonderful and humbling to be surrounded by fellow inspiring designers and mentors in the business, always ready to lend their expertise and encouragement,” says designer-in-residence Holly Garrard, who is developing her own line of shoes. “CFI helped professionalize and focus my work by connecting me with professional resources that were critical in creating a quality collection,” says former student Anna Brown, who runs a successful contemporary clothing line. Kate VanAsten of eco-conscious brand Wulfka adds that the Chicago Fashion Incubator feels like a part of the community even though she works alone in her studio: “They’ve helped me become a better designer and a more focused business person, and they’ve encouraged me when entrepreneurship gets overwhelming.”

— Isa Giallorenzo

Dress: Goli Parvinian, Hat: Lola Osire, Shoes: Holly Garrard/Photo: Rachel Hanel

Additional credits

Hair and makeup artist: Carol Wood (@carolwood_beauty)

Models (10 MGMT): But (@ali_garey) and Cyndnee (@cyndneemame)

Designers in residence participate (not all of them are shown in the photos):
Pam Kendall (@quicollection), Amy Taylor (@msamytaylor), Holly Garrard (@hollydayfun), Lola Osire (@lola.elan), Kahindo Mateene (@kahindo_nyc), Naked Parvinian (@goli_june), Kate VanAsten (@wulfka)and Anna Brown (@anna_brown_studio).

Skirt: Kahindo Mateene, Top and Dress: Kate VanAsten/Photo: Rachel Hanel

Dress: Lola Osire, Wrist Cuffs: Pam Kendall/Photo: Rachel Hanel

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