A look inside SAIC's Fashion Resource Center | Bleader

Friday, October 24, 2014

A look inside SAIC's Fashion Resource Center

Posted By on 10.24.14 at 02:30 PM

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

Isa Giallorenzo
  • Isa Giallorenzo

Well, I guess I found my dream home. Just give me a Tempur-Pedic mattress and I could spend the rest of my days at SAIC's Fashion Resource Center, surrounded by its collection of over 800 garments and more than 4,000 fashion publications—including a huge collection of about 1,000 vintage magazines from 1890 to 1980. The Center, which turned 27 this year, was created by professor Gillion Carrara and her colleagues to provide the students a space to research and get inspired. Currently the FRC's director, Carrara gave a tour of the space during A Taste of Fashion Journalism, a Chicago Ideas Week event that took place last Saturday.

And what a tour it was. We learned about designers like Elsa Schiaparelli, who had an astronomer and a translator for parents; heard circa-1980s Karl Lagerfeld trash talk (he apparently said that Rei Kawakubo made clothes "for rich bag ladies"); we saw the red, white, and blue lining of a Thom Browne dress Michelle Obama was supposed to wear; we leafed through Visionaire, a magazine that costs over $300; we were presented with garments that look like origami when folded, that need to be handled with a glove, and that were made out of vintage hats.

Carrara (pictured above) is quite a piece of work herself, decked in a made-to-measure Tyvek lab coat and Yohji Yamamoto sneakers. She makes it clear the FRC is not a library or a museum: "Everything is hands on. Nothing leaves the room. Simply handle everything, let your eyes move and absorb," she suggested. "This collection is basically contemporary and avant-garde. We're not historic, because we already have the Chicago History Museum and the Columbia College fashion collection here." So at the FRC you will find plenty of Japanese designers—once presented at a beautiful exhibit at the Art Institute, and innovators such as Martin Margiela. The Center is always open for SAIC students and can be visited by individuals and groups by appointment. See more pictures of the tour below.

FRCs director Gillion Carrara in her exclusive Price Walton Tyvek lab coat
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • FRC's director Gillion Carrara in her exclusive Price Walton Tyvek lab coat

Ms. Carraras Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas kicks
  • Ms. Carrara's Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas kicks

An explanation of how the FRC works

A 1994 Issey Myiake heat pressed polyester garment that bounces as the wearer moves
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • A 1994 Issey Miyake heat pressed polyester garment that bounces as the wearer moves

A 2005 Rei Kawakubo dress that can be worn in many different ways
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • A 2005 Rei Kawakubo dress that can be worn in many different ways

Garments by Creatures of the Wind, a successful label run by two SAIC alumni
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Garments by Creatures of the Wind, a successful label run by two SAIC alumni

A Mariano Fortuny Delphos gown, inspired by the charioteer of Delphos
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • A Mariano Fortuny "Delphos" gown, inspired by the Charioteer of Delphi

See that origami on the table?

Its a top made with recycled PET polyester by Issey Miyake!
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • It's a top made with recycled PET (aka polyester) by Issey Miyake!


Hexa geisha-style booties

SAIC graduate student and FRC employee Eric Lengsouthiphong shows a laser-cut Anrealage dress
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • SAIC graduate student and FRC employee Eric Lengsouthiphong shows a laser-cut Anrealage dress

A Moschino dress made out of trash bags

An Alexander McQueen kaleidoscopic print jacket

A Martin Margiela aluminum foil skirt...

... and a Margiela cape made out of vintage hats

A multi-layered Junya Watanabe dress that wraps around the body multiple times
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • A multi-layered Junya Watanabe dress that wraps around the body multiple times

A Christopher Kane ensemble that I fervently wish were mine

A bottany lesson in Christopher Kanes fabric

Visionaire magazine presented like a deck of cards - and costing over 300 bucks!
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Visionaire magazine presented like a deck of cards—a $300 deck of cards

See more Chicago fashion in the Chicago Looks blog.

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