Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Street View 116: Capes are meant for the superglam

Posted By on 08.28.13 at 04:13 PM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.

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Being a fashion blogger certainly has its perks, and I gotta say one of the highlights of my "career" was being invited to be a judge for a special fashion show put together by the Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club. With the guidance of adorable instructor Kylee Alexander, a group of eight- to 14-year-old girls designed, constructed, and modeled their own garments, with breathtaking results.

Ariyah, pictured above, amped up the glamour factor when she added a cape to her tres ornate look. I think The Incredibles' Edna Mode had a point when she said that capes are not meant for superheroes. They're certainly not practical. But legendary film costume designer Edith Head—who actually inspired Edna Mode's hilarious character—didn't think twice before decking Audrey Hepburn in capes. So, in true old Hollywood spirit, Ariyah was sashaying around in her cape, along with a bunch of other equally inspiring minicouturiers. Take a peek at the backstage shots after the jump—and find out what Ms. Alexander had to say about the whole process.

How can you go wrong with bows, polka dots and a cape?
  • How can you go wrong with bows, polka dots, and a cape?

Judges also had to take styling into consideration - along with a fierce walk.
  • Judges also had to take styling into consideration—along with a fierce walk.

Apliqués! So Prada!
  • Appliques! So Prada!

Social butterfly Ariyah and Cecilia, who made all this intricate patchwork herself.
  • Social butterfly Ariyah and Cecilia, who made all this intricate patchwork herself

Instructor Kylee Alexander and Cecilia.
  • Instructor Kylee Alexander and Cecilia

Tutu good! Yohanna brings the Grace Kelly look back and Jay evokes Chanel.
  • Tutu good! Yohanna brings the Grace Kelly look back and Jay evokes Chanel.

Fashion and friends, a great mix!
  • Fashion and friends, a great mix!

Aren't we fabulous? That's modest me in the middle, in very good company.
  • Aren't we fabulous? That's modest me in the middle, in very good company.

Sweet and stylish.
  • Sweet and stylish

Bianca's very mermaid look.
  • Bianca's very mermaid look

So chic!
  • So chic!

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Alanté (right) gracefully helps with the final touches.
  • Alanté (right) gracefully helps with the final touches.

Fun is the name of the game for Richya.
  • Fun is the name of the game for Richya.

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Backstage frenzy.
  • Backstage frenzy

Left to right: Joan, Liza, Keari, Cecilia, Yohana, Nebiat, Bianca, Jelilat, Harriet, Jay, Richya, and Ms. Alexander in the back.
  • Left to right: Joan, Liza, Keari, Cecilia, Yohana, Nebiat, Bianca, Jelilat, Harriet, Jay, and Richya (that's Ms. Alexander in the back)

All the pretty ladies after their moment of glory <em>(video)</em>.
  • All the pretty ladies after their moment of glory.

<em>Dying</em> with Joan's print mix - in sync with Bianca's dress.
  • Joan and Bianca, prints in sync

Where can I get these looks?
  • Where can I get these looks?

Share a bit of the excitement with proud instructor Kylee Alexander, interviewed via e-mail.

Isa Giallorenzo: What's your background?
Kylee Alexander: I graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012, where I studied in both the fashion and writing programs. My focus has always been on making clothing for women that explores the juxtaposition of powerful/traditional, hard/soft, with an emphasis on textile manipulation.

How did you get involved with this project?
After school, I knew I wasn't ready to start my own business, but I wanted to pass on the learning I got out of higher education. Eventually, I found the Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club, which needed a fashion instructor to teach sewing and coordinate a fashion show. It was a perfect outlet to stay involved in fashion and share the gift of sewing.

How long did the whole process take? What did it entail?
The summer fashion club was an eight-week journey, teaching children ages 8-14 how to hand sew, embroider, and use sewing machines. When it came time to prepare for the fashion show, each club member made an illustration, and that's what they worked for everyday. I wanted the fashion club to have an art base, so there was no limit to what they could design or what it had to entail. Thrifting was encouraged, as was recycling clothes that didn't fit anymore. Repurposing is so essential to fashion.

Who helped you in this task?
David Sanchez from Ford Models was so gracious to visit the Pedersen-McCormick Fashion club and bring in a troupe of models to discuss self-esteem, healthy living, and show the participants how to runway walk. It was a great experience for the girls to interact with models and see another aspect of fashion.

What were the challenges you encountered?
There is no difference between a fashion designer and a child learning how to sew. Both get frustrated when they see imperfection. Fashion is stressful. We experienced a gamut of emotions.

What was the most rewarding part of this show for you? How about the girls? How did they feel? How did they feel after the show? What were their impressions?
It was a thrilling experience to finally see all the girls backstage, dressed in cloth they had transformed into gowns and patchwork dresses. I think the most exciting moment for them was when each of them finished their runway outfit; what was a burden to make was now a beautiful outfit they could take home and show their families and really be proud of. The fashion show was such a spectacle of hard work and enthusiasm; everyone that learned how to sew went home with an amazing skill.

Can you tell me a bit more about the Boys & Girls Club?
The Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club is a wonderful facility that offers summer and after-school programs to children and teens. Club members there get to participate in a range of activities, which include a fashion program and a science club funded by Northwestern University.

Photos by Isa Giallorenzo

See more Chicago street style in the Chicago Looks blog.

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