DAAP Fashion Design students travel to Chicago
Fashion Design seniors and sophomores discovered how 19th century Parisian fashion influenced the Impressionists, experienced first-hand different aspects of the fashion industry, and got a chance to learn about each other.
By: Elizabeth Hess
Supported with funding from 2013 DAAP Fashion Show, 22 fashion design seniors and sophomores, as well as five faculty members, departed from the UC campus on July 24, 2013, for a two-day trip to Chicago. The original motivation for the trip was the opportunity to view the internationally acclaimed Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit on display in Regenstein Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago. However, faculty member and trip organizer Professor Margaret Voelker-Ferrier of DAAP Fashion Design used her myriad of industry contacts to pull together additional enrichment opportunities to transform a bus-ride trip to a Chicago art museum exhibit into two full days of total immersion into the world of fashion with a decidedly Parisian flavor to the trip.
Upon arriving in Chicago, the first destination on their whirlwind tour was ikram®. Owned by Ikram Goldman, from whom the boutique draws its name, and boasting a high gloss fire engine red storefront, ikram is a high-end women's couture clothing store located in Chicago's Gold Coast. The students viewed high-end fashion merchandise, saw an array of fabrics and asked questions of the sales staff. The manager of ikram addressed the students, making a presentation about fashion design and designers, ikram’s customers, trends in the industry, and accessorizing.
After ikram, the next stop was the corporate headquarters for Vogue Fabrics®. Vogue is a buyer of end-of-season fabrics for resale or what is known as a “jobber” in the fashion industry. The students received a tour of the store and managing partner Mark Sussman gave a lecture on the role of Vogue Fabrics in the fashion industry. He even invited them to participate in an upcoming international fashion competition to be judged by high-end retailers.
To cap a fashion filled day, for dinner the group dined at Paris Club, experiencing authentic French cuisine and then kicked back at the European style nightclub.
Day two featured the highlight of the trip, the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago®. This internationally acclaimed exhibition showcased the intertwining of Impressionist art and fashion from the 1860s-1880s, as Paris became the style capital of the world. The exhibit featured over 70 paintings by Caillebotte, Degas, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and Seurat and the fashions that were paired with the paintings influencing their work. Seeing the exhibit, gave the DAAP fashion design students a new perspective on the Impressionists, revealed how these early avant-garde artists were influenced by fashion, and how the same overlapping of fashion and art still happens today.
“We were able to wander around Ikram (a high end boutique) and look close up at designers like Givenchy, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, etc. along with visit the Impressionism in Fashion exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago where we saw many garments/ gowns that influenced the Impressionism paintings. At both places, it was phenomenal to see the details, trend, quality, and designs/ designers that have influenced our world!” — Calle Evans, Fashion Design senior
A tour of a couture boutique, a visit to a giant in the fabric industry, interaction with professionals in the field, and an internationally acclaimed fashion-influenced art exhibition, made for a memorable and educational trip for all involved as there is no substitute for real-world experience and the opportunity to engage those who know a business from the inside. As if the trip couldn’t provide anything more, it also allowed these students the time to learn from and bond with each other outside of their classrooms and studios. Fashion design sophomore Kaitlin Ertel summed up the trip well,
“Going to Chicago with my classmates was probably my favorite part of the summer. It was great to bond with the people I see in studio everyday and share the experience with them. I'm so glad that I went.”