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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A teenager sports high fashion on a low budget

Posted By on 12.18.18 at 06:00 AM

  • Isa Giallorenzo

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

"I feel like if I'm not disgusted with what I wore a year ago, then I'm not doing my job," says high school senior Zoe Axelrod, who tries to err on the side of boldness. "If it isn't going to make a statement, then it's not worth wearing. Not every look I put together is 'good,' but it'll certainly get your attention." 

She wasn't always such a fashion enthusiast, though; up until around her freshman year, Axelrod favored basic items such as low-rise leggings and graphic tees. Her sartorial turning point came when she started following fashion bloggers on Instagram and YouTube. "My current favorites are Beth Jones of B. Jones Style, Tara Chandra, and Allison of Titi Alli. They all give me ideas of outfits to put together, but ultimately, my clothes are what inspire me," says the avid thrifter, whose personal style has been developed through "a lot of trial and error."

On the day she was photographed, she ended up missing her school bus because she couldn't figure out what to layer under her olive button-down—an XL pajama top she found at a thrift store in Arlington Heights, her hometown. "The fabric was so beautiful I couldn't pass it by," she says.

The 17-year-old ended up pairing her esteemed shirt with a turtleneck she got on sale at Target a couple of years ago, vintage frames that used to belong to her mom, earrings handed down from her grandma, a belt that used to be a Gryffindor tie from a Hermione costume, and a pair of ASOS platforms, her "pride and glory," thrifted at the Savers in Schaumburg for eight bucks. Axelrod highly recommends that store.

"They have the biggest and most organized kids section, which is where I get most of my funky pieces," she enthuses. The precocious and frugal style savant has another shopping tip: "If you want to save time, skim the aisles for the colors you think your closet needs more of."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Agriculture offers a crop of style in the heart of Bronzeville

Posted By on 12.11.18 at 08:00 AM

  • Isa Giallorenzo

I watched my mom make clothes for the guys in the neighborhood and I could see the confidence it gave to them. I saw the way they acted when they dressed well," says Milton Latrell, 38, about the transformative power of a great outfit.

More than a decade ago, along with childhood friend Christopher Brackenridge, 39, he founded Agriculture, a shop nestled in a once bustling stretch of 43rd Street in Bronzeville. "Right here there used to be a series of black-owned businesses up and down the street," says Latrell, who grew up in one of the neighborhood projects—and like Brackenridge, learned how to sew at home. Inspired by Bronzeville's golden age in the 1920s, they try to evoke the style from the era with "classic and timeless" pieces: "There were real clean gentlemen who layered well and piled up on accessories like scarves, hats, and pocket squares. And they were creative—everybody had a sense of style. Even the milkman wore bow ties, suspenders, long socks, and capri shorts."

  • Isa Giallorenzo

Latrell affirms this aesthetic is "coming back tremendously" nowadays—and he strives to offer a wide array of quality products for the dapper chaps out there. "We don't make everything in the store, but we sell everything," he says. Besides bespoke suits made of wool, silk, or cashmere (starting at $750), they also produce button-down shirts (starting at $120), ties (starting at $35), pocket squares ($20), Italian leather shoes (starting at $350), and even a fragrance. Mulberry Silk ($55) gives off citrus, fresh jasmine, patchouli, and vanilla notes, with a floral, spicy heart. "It is fresh yet masculine," Latrell says. "Like the fabric it is named after, it is meant to be worn every season. We launched it two months ago and already sold over 150 bottles."

  • Isa Giallorenzo
Agriculture also carries other brands, such as footwear by Mezlan and Bacco Bucci and sturdy cardigans made of twined rope imported from Turkey ($90). For those in need of some guidance, Latrell prides himself in offering personalized service, in which he caters to his clients' unique needs: "We listen to what each person really wants and try to adapt our selection to their lifestyle—not the other way 'round." Besides custom tailoring, he and Brackenridge also do personal in-store styling sessions ($50) and wardrobe assessments ($185). "The main reason so many people support us is because we style them according to who they are," Latrell says. Celebrating 11 years in the business and cultivating famous customers like actor Mel Jackson and NBA players Luol Deng and Andrew Harrison, the Bronzeville natives really seem to be reaping what they sew.  v

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Marvell Wesley and his mini-me stroll in style on 95th Street

Posted By on 12.04.18 at 06:00 AM

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

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

‘Fashion helps me connect with people’

Posted By on 11.27.18 at 06:00 AM

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

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then security officer Vickie Gould, 59, really had a lot to say with her look. "I need a little happiness right now because I just got discharged from my job," she said. "Emojis are just part of me; they mean being happy, different, and noticeable. I'm just a different person—I dare to be different. My style is unpredictable and nobody does it like me."

Yet Gould's outfits do seem to have one thing in common: her penchant for meticulously matching accessories. "I am the best coordinator. I can just go into a store and find something that goes with what I already have. It just comes to me." After stating this, Gould gleefully pulled her emoji gloves and emoji folder from her emoji backpack, like they were some kind of secret weapon. "I've got gadgets," she grinned. "Fashion helps me connect with people. Through my outfits I'm always giving that little token of love."  v

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Monday, November 19, 2018

A dressy fashion sense that's all about seizing the day – whatever day it is

Posted By on 11.19.18 at 06:00 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.
"If I own a beautiful pair of shoes, why shouldn't I wear them to the parent-teacher night?" asks Terri Franklin. - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • "If I own a beautiful pair of shoes, why shouldn't I wear them to the parent-teacher night?" asks Terri Franklin.

"Why do we need permission to get dressed up?" asks real estate broker and mother of three Terri Franklin. "Sometimes after women hit a certain age they start to melt into this submission of 'I don't need to get dressed up anymore.' Moms who used to feel conscious about their style just seem to play everything down. If I own a beautiful pair of shoes, why shouldn't I wear them to the parent-teacher night? Don't hesitate to wear something you love."

Following her own advice, Franklin put her best heels forward while guiding high school students as a volunteer docent at the Art Institute. In keeping with her aesthetic, which she calls "classic with a twist," she complemented the neutral pieces of her outfit with a pair of statement pleated pants and a confident stride. "For me it's just important to be yourself and be comfortable. I'm all about a natural presence."  v

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Photographer Jen Jansen has her Beast in control

Posted By on 10.26.18 at 11:38 AM

Jen Jansen with "the Beast," a Deardorff 11x14 studio camera from the 20s, made in Chicago - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Jen Jansen with "the Beast," a Deardorff 11x14 studio camera from the 20s, made in Chicago

Remember that botched restoration of the Ecce Homo fresco in a Spanish church a few years ago, which became a meme known as "Potato Jesus"? Photographer Jen Jansen has a copy of it displayed in front of her Bucktown studio, where it serves as a cautionary tale of what the ravages of time—and inexperienced restorers—can do to a picture.

"Potato Jesus" may be funny, but Jansen is very conscious that damaged heirloom family photos are not a laughing matter: "People bring me really old pictures and get a very emotional reaction when they see them restored," she says. "It's like they're keeping a member of their family alive."

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Why the Wndr Museum isn't a ‘selfie factory’: a defense of the pop-art pop-up

Posted By on 10.02.18 at 06:00 AM

Photographer Elizabeth De La Piedra in one of the "infinity rooms" - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Photographer Elizabeth De La Piedra in one of the "infinity rooms"

This summer brought us a new, Instagram-friendly kind of gallery/"museum": the "pop-art pop-up," you could call it, a traveling cluster of interactive installations with lots of eye candy—and lots of selfie and Instagram possibilities—designed to be easily enjoyed by any kind of audience, art-world outsiders and children included. The first to blow in, Happy Place, arrived in May, "a new traveling circus—the Instagram trap," the Reader's Ryan Smith called it (a slideshow by Reader photo editor Jamie Ramsay is here). The "experience" 29Rooms, promoted by the media company Refinery 29, made its appearance in July. Now there's a third, more ambitious pop-up: the Wndr Museum.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Humboldt Park kids' store Peach Fuzz gives hugs

Posted By on 09.11.18 at 09:15 AM

Shop assistant Devyn Mañibo - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Shop assistant Devyn Mañibo

"Peach Fuzz is an inclusive kids' shop," says Claire Tibbs of her new business, which opened in Humboldt Park in mid-July. She named the store accordingly: "We all have [peach fuzz], no matter our age. It is tactile, textured, body positive, inclusive, and undeniably human. The space and our goods I hope evoke the same. . . . We want all people to enter and feel hugged by the space."

And that's exactly how I felt after arriving at the store, which is painted in various soothing pastel tones with vibrant neon accents. The walls are covered in unexpected color combinations that surprisingly work beautifully together. One of them opens into a cozy nook designed for more introspective activities: decked with beanbag chairs and minimalist wooden blocks, it's the perfect hideaway for the little ones.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

DJ Duane Powell follows his ‘inner-gy’

Posted By on 08.29.18 at 06:00 AM

  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • DJ Duane Powell

"It's African, it's Afrofuturism, it's house, it's jazz, it's ever-evolving"—that's how DJ Duane Powell talks about his style. On the day he was photographed—after playing a set in Avondale's Woodard Plaza at an event promoted by Elastic Arts, the Corner Project, and Activate Chicago—his look included a tall-brim hat custom-made by Esenshel, a T-shirt by local artist James Nelson, and a neoprene necklace by Rosanna Contadini purchased at the Silver Room. Powell has been "at it" for so long that his taste is remarkably authentic, but he acknowledges artists like Andre 3000, Maxwell and Erykah Badu are "from his tribe".

The self-described "musicologist" exudes panache and self-confidence, but he wasn't always like that. In high school he spent his hard-earned money on designer brands he couldn't afford, just to be able to fit in. "I hung out briefly with what we call 'label whores', but it didn't take long for me to realize that I was looking for some kind of validation, some sort of acceptance—as were they," the 41-year-old says. "It wasn't natural. It was a middle-class performance, and it wasn't me."

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Pedro the Lion at Thalia Hall, and more things to do this weekend

Posted By on 08.23.18 at 06:00 AM

David Bazan of Pedro the Lion - RYAN REYNOLDS
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • David Bazan of Pedro the Lion

There's a lot going on in Chicago this weekend—here's some of what we recommend that you check out.

Thu 8/23-Mon 8/27: A much-anticipated pop-up Glossier store opens at 114 N. Aberdeen in the West Loop this Thursday, where visitors can purchase the brand's makeup products as well as interact with installations that teach visitors more about the brand, created in partnership with local artists. Mon-Fri noon-8 PM, Sat-Sun 11 AM-7 PM

Fri 8/24-Mon 8/26: The Radicalization Process is a performance-art theatrical adaptation of Antigone, looking at revolutionary acts through the lens of 1960's and 70's America. "Originally inspired in 2014 by the activist movements sparked in the wake of high-profile killings of unarmed African-Americans, The Radicalization Process has taken on additional significance since the 2016 presidential election," writes Reader critic Dan Jakes. 7:30 PM, Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S. Morgan, $10

Fri 8/24: David Bazan's on-again, off-again band Pedro the Lion is back and playing at Thalia Hall alongside H.C. McEntire. In the words of Reader critic Leor Galil, Bazan and his band "excel at the kind of touching emo that both reaches the genre's heights and circumvents its lows." 9 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $22-35, 17+

Sat 8/25: Local experimental pop duo Ohmme perform at Thalia Hall with the Hecks and V.V. Lightbody. "They sculpt a sound that's rich yet agile, and summon a virtual orchestra using only their voices and guitars," writes Reader's Peter Margasak of the group. 8 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $12, all-ages

Sat 8/25: As part of the weeklong Dog Day performance series, saxophonist James Brandon Lewis brings his versatile jazz to Constellation, backed by locals Ben Lamar Gay, Kent Kessler, and Avreeyal Ra. 4 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, free, 18+

Sun 8/26: Flamingo Rodeo, the side project of Ne-Hi singer and guitarist Mikey Wells, is releasing its first full-length record, Said Unsaid, this Monday and celebrating with a show at Empty Bottle. 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, free

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