Fashion students compete for scholarship


Angela Conners

Fashion students compete for scholarship

By Assistant Metro Editor

In the hopes of winning a $5,000 scholarship, Chicago’s next generation of fashion designers is rising to the challenge.

The Chicago Fashion Foundation is scheduled to host the seventh annual Scholarship Showcase & Competition, “Future of Chicago Fashion,” on April 3 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 N. State St. The competition challenges students to design themed garments and this year, designers were asked to create clothing inspired by art displayed in any of Chicago’s many museums. 

The 13 participants will compete for the $5,000 first prize, a second place prize of $1,500 and a third place prize of $500.

A panel of three judges will evaluate the designers’ interpretations of the theme, overall design and ability to create ready-to-wear items, said CFF president Amanda Domaleczny. The panel will include Frances Renk, Red Carpet Concierge of Chicago; Andrea Schwartz, vice president of Media Relations at Macy’s; and J.P. Anderson, editor-in-chief of Michigan Avenue magazine.

Domaleczny started the showcase and competition in 2007 because she said she loved supporting and learning about the ambitions of local designers. She said supporting students is necessary to contribute to the Chicago fashion industry.

“We have some of the most talented people in the industry who come from Chicago,” Domaleczny said. “It’s important to be able to support them through scholarships and educational events to show them that there is an organization here for them.”

Seven of the 13 competitors are Columbia students. For some of the designers, like Alexander Knox, a senior fashion studies major, this is the first opportunity to showcase their designs to a panel of judges outside of a Columbia classroom. 

While searching Chicago museums for inspiration, Knox happened upon a painting at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., by Kurt Seligmann called “Metamorphosis.” The painting lit up with a bright yellow cyclone figure and a mix of colors muddled into the dark background, inspired Knox to start designing. 

Distortion is a common theme in Knox’s designs. The first stage of metamorphosis is reflected in a coat that mimics the silhouette of a cocoon by pairing a cotton canvas with a smoky, iridescent fabric made of silk.

“In that painting, it looks like smoke [is] coming out of this cocoon shape,” Knox said. “I wanted the silhouette to be this massive-looking cocoon [and] I wanted the neck piece to look smoky like it does in the painting.”

Under the coat is a black, crinkled silk dress that employed a variety of cutting techniques to achieve.

Knox said the dress will be revealed when the runway model removes the coat along with the intricate neckpiece made of gold polymesh and black thread, which pops from beneath the coat.

“I was really designing around the whole idea of metamorphosis,” Knox said. “The painting itself is more about life and death, but I am focused more on the silhouette through the inspiration of the painting.”

Domaleczny said she looks forward to seeing the designers’ work and is excited about the newest portion of the competition, in which they submitted spreadsheets, a mission statement and business plans to compete for a $1,500 scholarship. Kate Loscalzo, a senior fashion studies major, said she is eagerly awaiting the networking opportunities.

“[CFF] is really trying to build the fashion existence in Chicago,” Loscalzo said. “They are working to really get people together and … connect people on that level.”

 In one of her classes, Loscalzo began planning to open a boutique after she graduates. When she heard about the competition, she focused on perfecting the details of her business plan before submitting her application.

“This is something that I actually want to do in the long run and it isn’t just for this scholarship,” Loscalzo said. “It would be an honor if I won [and] … this is something that I am going to take and put toward my future.”

Knox and Loscalzo said they feel confident representing Columbia and winning the competition would be a significant step in furthering their fashion careers.

“From the classes that I have taken here at Columbia, I have had amazing teachers who have taught me things that I would have never been able to imagine that I can do,” Knox said.