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Fashion Club of Notre Dame attends Fashion Week finale

| Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Members of the Fashion Club of Notre Dame traveled to Chicago on Sunday for the finale event of Chicago’s Fashion Week. The event focused on growing the fashion industry in Chicago by giving up-and-coming designers the chance to showcase their work and develop their brands. Juniors and club presidents Sierra Mayhew and Caroline Forlenza said they reached out to FashionBar, the company running the week, and were given the opportunity to speak with Tony Long, founder and CEO of the company.

“We met with him just the two of us, and he taught us a lot about what he’s doing — trying to grow Chicago into a fashion capital like New York and [Los Angeles] are … and he allowed us to bring a few of our members to the finale event of the Fashion Week,” Mayhew said.

Photo courtesy of Sierra Mayhew
Members of the Fashion Club of Notre Dame traveled to Chicago on Sunday to attend the finale event of Chicago’s Fashion Week.

Mayhew and Forlenza said they were frustrated with the lack of resources on campus for students interested pursuing careers in fashion and, as a result, founded Fashion Club of Notre Dame last fall, the start of their sophomore year.

“We both are really interested in fashion, and we felt like we were at a school that did not support our career choices,” Mayhew said. “We wanted to create a place for people who are interested in a career in the fashion industry.” 

“We just had this idea of forming a place on campus where people could talk about their passion for the industry and also learn more about it,“ Forlenza said. “Hopefully by the time we’re out of Notre Dame, [we will] kind of create our own network of people working in the industry. In the last few years, Notre Dame has come a long way with that in general because now they offer a Career Trek to New York City in the fashion and retail industry through the Career Center.”

Photo courtesy of Sierra Mayhew
Sierra Mayhew, left, and Caroline Forlenza represent Notre Dame’s Fashion Club in Chicago on Sunday as the club presidents.

During club meetings, members discuss questions revolving around rising trends, major events in the fashion world and fashion’s relationship with other industries.

“We just finished Fashion Month, and that’s our most exciting month for meetings because we get to talk about and review all the fashion shows in New York, London, Paris and Milan,” Mayhew said.

“For example, we did an opening question about Michael Kors going public: Was that a good decision for them or not? Did it hurt their luxury brand or did it help it?” Forlenza said. “So we try to get into those business-focused ideas and a lot of marketing as well.” 

Mayhew said the Fashion Week finale was a sign of Chicago’s potential, as well as the impressive efforts of individuals — like Long — who have helped the industry grow. 

“I think there’s definitely room for growth, and I think that, because it’s such a big city, it has the opportunity to be bigger fashion presence if the designers there keep working really hard,” Mayhew said.

Freshman Lexi Leahy, a Chicago native, said it was exciting to see signs of fashion’s growth in the city.

“I love this city, so I really want Chicago to start becoming more of a focal point for fashion,” she said. “I liked seeing the local artists a lot because they were so unique to Chicago and its characteristics. It was really cool to see these new, aspiring artists who are trying to make it doing their own thing.” 

Photo courtesy of Sierra Mayhew
Winners of the avant-garde competition showcase their outfits Sunday during the finale event of Chicago’s Fashion Week. The winning design, pictured above, reflected the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.

The event included several shows by local designers and brands, and concluded with an avant-garde competition in which designers created pieces that reflected Chicago’s history and culture. Junior Nina Michielutti said the competition was the most memorable part of the day.

The winner of this year’s competition was a designer who created a gown based on the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago during Al Capone’s reign over the city’s mobs,” she said in an email. “It was unique and beautifully done, but what really set it apart from the rest was the story behind it. He really brought everyone back in time with his design that even included newspaper from the publication of the massacre. The competition was a really cool way to see how certain designers pushed their boundaries to create really dramatic designs.”

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