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Q the Runway for #IdeasChat (and a supermodel)

Chicago Ideas Week has come and gone until 2013, but each Tuesday’s #IdeasChat is a hashtag to watch. Turn to Twitter at 11a each Tuesday for a new theme: #creative, #giving, and #fitness were all recently featured; #fashion has also been a featured chat.

In particular, @chicagoideas queued the runway for Chicago #fashion during October’s Chicago Ideas Week, and Katie Borman from the School of Communication was there to see it unfold as only Chicago’s thought leaders might host fashion industry leaders.

Thanks, Katie, for this guest post!

This year’s fashion presentation for the annual Chicago Ideas Week, Why Are You Wearing That? was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, hosted by Chicago Magazine editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Fenner.  Covering the effect fashion has on our society, specifically addressing how fashion influences the way we spend money, experience beauty and express our identities, this presentation featured industry leaders whose ideas are greatly impacting the fashion industry.

The first presenter was jewelry darling, Dana Gordon, the founder, designer, and director of Dana Rebecca Designs. Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba are all fans, as well as Oprah, who awarded Gordon’s designs with a spot on her highly coveted “Ultimate Favorite Things” list in 2010. Passionate about creating “wearable, timeless treasures,” that entice conversation, this third-generation jewelry designer seeks inspiration from her mother and grandmother. Committed to emulating emotion and telling stories through her designs, Gordon advised all first-time jewelry buyers to remember the classics, and more importantly, to invest in them.

Elle Macpherson, known to the world as a supermodel, television host, and actress, sat down with Chicago Ideas Week founder, Brad Keywell, to talk beauty.  When asked about the influences that contributed to her conception of beauty, Macpherson gushed that the James Bond film she saw at the tender age of 11, captured her free-spirited, nature loving, soul. The confident, seductive, and clever Bond Girl struck a chord within the adventurous pre-teen, who grew up against the beautiful backdrop of the breathtaking Australian landscape, the greatest influence in Macpherson’s life.  Since her move to New York and rise to a euphoric level of fame in the 1980s, Macpherson has been incredibly successful, employing her fame in the most positive of ways.  She advocates for young girls and models alike, encouraging society to adopt more accepting and diverse notions of beauty.  “We need more positive images of beauty – a new ideal – fresh models – a goddess with guts and integrity,” Macpherson said.  She told audience members that the number one way we can realize this transformation is to continue using social media in productive ways.  “Social media is helping people make their own visual decisions about what they believe is beautiful and then sharing that idea with others – it’s empowering and transformative.”

Inspired by the powerful shapes of visionary fashion innovator Christian Dior, Borris Powell, a local Chicago designer, discussed the importance of thoughtful self-expression. Powell explained how one chooses to dress is reflective of how one desires to be perceived by others and in turn, how one perceives his- or her- self.  “Fashion is individuality,” Powell said, “You have to know you to be you.” Powell also touched on crucial fashion musts: dressing for your body type, transitioning outfits from day-to-night, and interpreting trends in age-appropriate ways.

Theirry Daher, founder & CEO of Caid Productions, discussed shoe culture and the importance of putting the right foot forward. According to Daher, the transformational effects shoes have on women, both physically and psychologically, are what drive designers to make great shoes.  These great shoes, namely the Stiletto, (“the Queen of all shoes,” to Daher) have advanced the image of women in modern culture. Translating to “small dagger” in Italian, stilettos were first popularized in the 20th century by Marilyn Monroe and other female film stars, as well as Barbie, who elicited strong sexual appeal with their footwear. The real rise of female shoe significance, however, came with the glory of 1990’s television, i.e. Sex & The City. “This show made it okay for women to be obsessed with shoes,” Daher said, “Major designers were thrust into the spotlight, they drove the trends, controlled the market, and women were able to command seduction and sexuality simply by stepping into a beautiful pair of shoes.”  Daher’s motto for shoe owners everywhere: “Occupy your shoes!”

Nikki Durkin, the 21-year-old founder of 99dresses.com, spoke about the collaborative consumption of fashion and how sharing resources will revolutionize the fashion industry.  Durkin addressed how the effect of social media – Facebook, Instagram, and blogs – has changed the way women dress.  The constant fear of repeating an outfit, or more importantly being photographed in the same outfit more than once, has driven women to adopt expensive retail habits. The trend of renting designer goods has skyrocketed, due to the cost effective solution to the ownership v. experience dilemma every woman faces, according to Durkin. Do we really crave the ownership of a fabulous dress we only plan on wearing once, or do we desire the experience that the dress will provide for us? Durkin argues that women want the experience, and through the redistribution of sought-after labels, women can have the ultimate fashion experience, without the hassle, stress, or crazy credit card bills.

Last but certainly not least, Mr. Brad Goreski, fashion guru, author, reality television star and now executive brand stylist for Kate Spade New York, spoke about trend analysis and reinterpreting runway looks for everyday life.  In his fabulous and always sassy demeanor, Goreski emphasized how easy it can be to look both chic and comfortable, even when traveling. “The airport can also be your runway,” Goreski said, “Strut your stuff.” iPad in hand, Goreski also showed audience members his favorite runway trends from the 2013 spring presentations, which he recently saw in Paris, Milan and New York.  His favorite look came from Oscar de La Renta’s flirty and feminine collection, which Goreski hailed as “totally major…Oscar never gets it wrong, ladies.” Goreski concluded his chat by demonstrating how audience members can get the look-for-less by turning to bloggers online, many of whom have broken down Goreski’s stunning pairings for clients such as Demi Moore and Jessica Alba.

For more about the above described event: http://www.chicagoideas.com/talks/41

Follow @chicagoideas for Tuesday #Ideaschat and many thanks again to @katieborman for this piece!

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