The Driehaus Design Initiative hosted The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence on April 26, leaving an encouraging message for local emerging designers. The event was a cocktail party and runway-show competition highlighting the talents and fashion designs of local design students.
"We want talent in Chicago to understand that we want to keep them in Chicago," said Michelle Molise, a board member of the Driehaus Design Initiative. "Our biggest goal is for students to recognize that they have a platform and build relationships within Chicago and the city themselves."
The event was hosted at Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage. The venue that evening was as unique as the featured designs. There was an exclusive viewing access to a private collection of classic U.S. cars, too. The theme of the night, interestingly, was "Infinite Possibilities."
The show included a pre-party live entertainment and a live auction. Chicago media personalities Linda Yu and Sylvia Perez co-hosted the show and helped the crowd celebrate more than 20 fashion-design students with collections that included ready-to-wear items, evening wear, outerwear, bridal, sportswear and wearable art.
More than 300 guests attended the event and helped raise $130,000 that benefitted programs at the four participating schools: Columbia College Chicago, Dominican University, The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
"The mission is to support these students and provide the upmost professional runway show display as possible," said Molise. "The multimedia component also creates video and photography to be able to use in their portfolios. We are doing a symposium every year after the show, hosts panels and tours. We extend it as much as possible into the real world. We continue to build those relationships year after year."
The judges included industry professionals who focused on intricate details in designs including fabric selections and special sewing techniques. Molly Quinn, from Columbia College, received the highest score and walked away with $7,500 with a prize package including the production of a lookbook, an apparel display at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue, and mentoring and media opportunities.