Category Archives: Press

Press Clippings: Fashionable Activewear

I was recently interviewed as part of an article about fitness apparel design. I have been working in a lot in this area of fashion recently, and I was happy to share a few of my experiences with Art Institutes InSite. This site is part of the Art Institutes, where I earned my degree in fashion design, and focuses on the stories of alumni in each industry represented in their program offerings.

Fitness apparel is an interesting segment of fashion. I find that it is continuing to evolve and takes inspiration from mainstream trends, but it is also extremely innovative. Function and performance are the most important elements of activewear, and can be different and special to the customer and the particular sport they are wearing it for. That doesn’t mean that style and trends go out the door. It’s an interesting combination of elements.

Please check out the full article below at the Art Insitutes InSite website:

http://insite.artinstitutes.edu/getting-off-the-block-in-fashionable-activewear-design-25258.aspx

Press Clippings – Today’s Chicago Woman

It’s always great to know that people are talking about you. Here are some recent “press clippings” that mention me that I would like to share with you.

Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine Blog

http://www.tcwmag.com/blog/last-minute-beauty-and-style-secrets

Kali Evans-Raoul of The Image Studios talks about her secrets to great style.  Restyling items from your existing wardrobe is a great style secret, and I would be happy to help you to transform your dresses, evening wear, outer wear, vintage items and furs.

The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago: Spring 2010 Alumni Newsletter

http://aichicagocareerservices.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/newsletter.pdf

On Page 7, a brief bio describing my work since graduation.

About Me: Alumni Interview

I was recently interviewed by Katelyn Doyle for an alumni newsletter piece for my alma mater, The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago. I’m sharing some of my answers as an “insight” into how I’m inspired and how I work.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Everywhere. I “people-watch” on the train, read lots of magazines, listen to music and I keep an inspiration journal where I put pictures from magazines, drawings, fabric swatches, quotes and song lyrics, and trend and color reporting excerpts from the internet. I like to know what my thought-process is through each season so when I am ready to start my own line I can look at what I was thinking about and designing and compare it with what was going on in the world and in fashion during that season.

What’s the one single piece of advice that you feel qualified to give that would be most beneficial to an aspiring student? Be involved in as many things as you can – whether it’s at school or not. Network with classmates (keep in touch after school is out!), teachers, anyone you meet. Remember what you want to do. Write down your goal and say it aloud to yourself and anyone you trust. Keep it in mind when you go about your day-to-day life, when you talk to people, when you’re working on your projects, always.

In your opinion, what does it take to make it in your industry? I think the most important thing, apart from talent, is having excellent communication skills. You need to be knowledgeable in your skill set, but also be able to communicate it to your boss, and probably most importantly: your clients. Communicating is essential to learning new skills, whether they are new design skills, or customer service skills. Listening and understanding your boss and your clients will be your biggest asset.

How do you feel Ai – Chicago prepared you for career? I really feel that I had amazing instructors and their knowledge and enthusiasm for the material prepared me for my career. I think that Ai gave me a lot of opportunities to succeed, in getting involved in fashion shows, and competitions. The variety of classes and projects along the way gave me a very well-rounded education and I use many aspects of it every day. I use my technical and construction skills just as much as I use my computer skills that I have learned. Ai’s curriculum focuses on real-world skills rather than abstract artistic skills, which I saw in other fashion programs I looked at, and that’s what made me decide to go here.

What made you decide to pursue this type of career? I learned to sew when I was 9 and did some projects in my 4-H Club. I enjoyed many kinds of arts and crafts including drawing, painting, collage and jewelry. I didn’t get very into sewing again until 8th grade when I took on a huge sewing project for a history class and made 4 doll-sized Colonial outfits. While it was a lot of hard work, I found that I really enjoyed it and decided in high school to pursue some fashion design and sewing classes at my local technical college at night after school. From there I decided that was what I really enjoyed, and thought about costume design for theater, and decided a career in fashion would be more suitable for me, and that I would be able to take it in any direction I chose to.

Please tell me what types of projects you have worked on? I think I have done almost everything under the sun! I have sewn doll’s clothes, pillows, curtains, quilts, handbags, dresses, tops, pants, skirts and prom dresses. Since starting my job at Eliana Lily I have worked with leather and fur, which is really exciting and something I never imagined I would be doing.

What do you enjoy most about working in your field? I love how every day is new and different. In my job I have a huge variety of projects so it never gets old. I have some really great clients and projects. I like having a lot of freedom in my designs and having some influence over the projects people bring me. I enjoy being able to share my ideas and taste in fashion with other people, and am happy that they value it and appreciate my background in design.

While attending school did you work? If so, describe. Yes. I worked part-time 20-30 hours per week at the House of Blues – Chicago in the retail store. I was a student tutor in the fashion department at school, for about 10 hours per week during my 2nd and 3rd year. I was also involved in a few freelance projects and jobs, and volunteered for fashion show dressing opportunities through school. I put together two fashion shows with friends, one of which was held in the House of Blues Foundation Room, thanks to some networking I had done within the company.

A quote about your hopes and dreams and what it took for you to get to where you are. 

Coming out of high school, my goal was to move to Chicago and work at a boutique after graduation with my fashion design degree. I think it was an important first step to realizing my dream, to say it aloud. I worked very hard, between my school work, job, tutoring, and doing freelance projects along the way. I knew it would take a lot of work to get a job right away after graduation, and so I spent a lot of time building my skills, my resume, and my portfolio. I’m so happy with the outcome of all of this hard work – it definitely paid off. I follow the mantra (from Ashton Kutcher, of all people) “Always be happy, never be satisfied”. I always strive for more in my life and in my career.

Press: Honorable Mention in New City Chicago

I was mentioned by Melissa Turner in an interview with writer Jennifer Berg, in this article that appeared in NEWCITY CHICAGO on 6/13/2006.
mo06-0613

First Fashionista: A conversation with Melissa Turner, Chicago’s new fashion director

Jennifer Berg

Last week, Mayor Daley announced the formation of Chicago’s Fashion Advisory Council, a group dedicated to keeping local talent from fleeing to the coasts. The council will strive to help designers overcome career obstacles that may be more prevalent in the Midwest than in fashion-centric cities like New York and Los Angeles. Heading up the group is Melissa Turner, who recently made the transition from courtroom to couture as an attorney turned Director of Fashion Arts and Events. Despite her chic title, Turner remains humble about her own style-savvy–when we asked the former legal eagle which fashion faux pas she would make illegal, she joked: “considering I was an attorney for seven years and only wore `institutional suits,’ I’ll leave that question to the stylists.” However, when Newcity tracked Turner down for a Q&A, she had plenty to say about style in the city.

What led to the creation of a Fashion Advisory Council for Chicago?
After the huge response to Fashion Focus Chicago in 2005, it became clear that Chicago has some dynamic designers but needs assistance in centralizing the industry and pooling the many resources that are already here.

Tell us a bit about the individuals who make up the nineteen-member council.
The members were chosen by Mayor Daley and represent a cross-section of fashion industry leaders. [Our board represents a variety of perspectives, from] designers to a marketing, manufacturing, finance, selling and distribution perspective. The young designers [in our group will enlighten us on] what it takes to transition from being a design student to a successful career in this very competitive industry. The designers identify which tools are here for them and which ones are not; what works for them and what does not. Our overarching goal is to help support and promote Chicago fashion, to elevate and educate our Chicago designers and to help promote the amazing retail stores that call Chicago home.

What are some of the challenges that face designers who want to stay in Chicago and how does the Council plan to provide transitional assistance to young designers looking to start a career?
[Chicago-based designers] face challenges with production and learning the business of design. [We plan to] establish mentorships with successful designers and internships in designers’ studios.

What advice would you give up-and-coming designers looking to make a name in Chicago?
Young designers need to understand that they won’t come out of fashion school and immediately be design stars. They have a lot to learn and the best way to do that is to shadow an established designer and take whatever jobs that designer gives you!

How would you characterize fashion events in Chicago as compared to similar happenings in NYC or LA?
Fashion events in Chicago represent something for everyone, from events showcasing avant-garde fashion in an avant-garde manner to wearable, fiber art displays to multimedia and fashion events that are on par with anything happening in NYC or LA.

What kind of Chicago fashion events can we expect in the future?
Soon, Chicago is likely to have a Fashion Week of runway shows occurring at the same level [as those in LA and NYC]. We are already on our way with the second year of Fashion Focus coming up September 20-October 1. There will be runway shows in Millennium Park September 26-28 and shopping events.

What are some of the most memorable fashion events you’ve attended in Chicago this year?
[I went to an] avant-garde fashion show at the Garfield Park Conservatory labyrinth. The fashion shows for local design schools this year [featured] student work that was really strong and exciting.

There is so much talent out there right now! Some up-and-coming student designers that stand out for me are Cassandra Scanlon, Xochil Herrera and recent graduates Kristina Sparks, Moire Conroy and Ana Cantillano.

Can you tell us a bit about the Chicago Design Shop that is planned for Macy’s?
I’m excited to let established designers know that the call for Macy’s Chicago Designer Shop is coming in July, so keep your eye out for that! [Buyers] will look for menswear, contemporary womenswear and childrenswear designers. Also, young designers will have the opportunity to show a sketch or sample to Macy’s experts during Fashion Focus at “Distinctions in Design” on September 26. The Chicago Designer Shop will launch this year on September 8.

Now let’s talk about shopping in Chicago! What are some of your favorite local shops?
Just a few favorites? What I love about Chicago retail is that you can find anything here. If you want something that’s limited edition and won’t be seen on anyone else, or you just need staples, Chicago’s retailers can take care of any need.

Are there any stores that are, in your opinion, underrated or deserving of more attention?
Not necessarily underrated, but there is a comeback story, Towanna Mitchell, who will soon open a boutique at 1877 North Milwaukee. In the 1980s, she was happening! She designed for the likes of Oprah Winfrey; she’s incredibly talented! I look forward to seeing her again.