Last night’s "The Designers of CFI" show kicked off the headline events for the seventh annual Fashion Focus. The six designers who have participated in this year’s Macy's-sponsored Chicago Fashion Incubator program—in which they attend seminars, obtain production and office space, and learn from experts—showed the results of their toil over the last 12 months.
Kahindo Mateene’s heritage is front-and-center in her choice of African textiles, specifically prints in eye-popping black, green, blue, and yellow, for her line, Modahnik. Her body-conscious dresses, with the patterns pieced together in visually arresting, intricate ways, inspire feelings of pure joy—a nice change from jaded sophistication.
Of course, designers don’t always need to reinvent the wheel, and several offered more straightforward looks, which were sometimes the most successful. Crystal B. Simms of Crystal B. Designs went graphic with black-and-white dresses that played on the idea of the 40s-style broad with square shoulders, while Shavonne Dorsey’s designs for plus-size women offered relatively simple shift and wrap dresses for an underserved market. Cettina—aka Concetta Cipriano—offered wearable separates like a cream silk tank with pleat accents and a mango dress with a fluttery asymmetrical faux hem, so cool and light looking you could practically feel a breeze. Eric Kipp presented meticulously tailored jackets, vests, and trousers in conservative fabrics as well as seersucker and madras—which were at odds with the thrusting guitar solos that accompanied them on the runway. But going overtly sexy worked too, as in a lacy V-neck dress and a see-through pair of wide-legged burgundy chiffon pants paired with boy shorts underneath by Taneasha Prunty of Gidi.
The show also included designers from past classes of the CFI, but since I was at the mercy of a basic point-and-shoot and my own shaky photography skills, I'll just include an image of Miriam Cecilia's lilac and chartreuse draped and flounced gown—which looks like something from a dream of an evening at Versailles. Let us eat cake.