Photography by Lauren Cali

For the most part, Unearthed was a temperate success. The showcase of budding, up-and-coming student designers was very telling of the potential future these artists have to offer when representing the great city of Chicago.

In truth, No Nation Gallery had a lot of things going for it last Saturday night, what with housing a fantastic installation and fashion show, as proclaimed by the event‘s flyer. Before the show had begun, there was a showing of a silent art or dance film, projected onto the wall with different tangible pieces including a geometric shapes on pen and flashcard, various drawings on what looked like wax paper and Xeroxed letters. The music being played was a marriage of electronic sounds and classical stimulants.

The clothes lent themselves to levels of excellent hubris- expertly executed by the student designers and very definitive of what these have to offer Chicago fashion. The idea behind it was to introduce the city to new talent and their success at the prospect.

Not only was the show risky and modern, it was also a good time. The crowd was a mixed one, comprised of family and friends of the designers, the gallerists of No Nation, various names and faces of the vintage underground and then the bloggers and journalists. None of it felt forced or unauthentic. The space and verbs present that night all worked in harmonious distinction which owned the interest and attention of all bodies present.

The show was not without its incidents. For example, the models’ tremendous speed down the runway was a bit menacing and difficult to record. My photographer Lauren had mentioned it to one of the designers after the show and she had assured Lauren that the student-designers were asking of the models to slow it down a bit. Some seemed to follow heed but many didn’t. I don’t know if they were all models but somehow, some of the women who walked down, didn’t really seem to know much about posing or walking. Trust me: it isn’t just something that you can pick up. There is a certain science and timing that comes with modeling, but it was my impression that everyone was, if not a student, at least very green. All in all, it wasn’t terribly distracting and didn’t take away from the show.

What did offend my sensibilities were a choice three guests that were in exuberant attendance. Apparently, they are Japanese culture fetishists who have a magazine of sorts. They were dressed in extremely loud clothing, reminiscent of cosplay and Harajuku styling that somehow missed the mark and was very American-appropriated. If their outfits, or indeed costumes, had any sort of glue that bound them together (and I do mean singularly) it may have worked better. It just seemed, at the very best, shocking self-promotion that took away from the runway itself. They were a study in what not to wear at a fashion show. Rule number one is always to dress accordingly to the event and to never, ever take away attention from the clothes. Let that be a lesson to all prospective audience members. Also, one of those began to dance to the music that was playing alongside the silent movie in a very odd and bizarrely disconcerting manner which prompted a change from the ethereal artificial beats to a much well received gangster rap. I don’t know if the St. Vitus afflicted person was the cause of the sudden change in audio, but it was a bit of a humorous side-note.

All in all, the clothes were exceptionally erected and well though out. The number of looks in the show was a bit disconcerting and it might have been my clinical simplicity but I wasn’t sure exactly how many student designers were in the show. The following pieces I felt were the most worthy of note and also the most fashion forward or present:

The sheer blouse, distressed pink denim shorts and bare midriff was by far the most provocative look of the night.

The cool pastels of the look conjured up images of a much more prosperous era in American history/fashion.

The most fashion forward piece, many regarded the knit wooven fuchsia mini dress as the winner of the night. It was this piece’s function and practical elegance that won me over.

The most present piece in the group, the black lace and exposed underwear was extremely of-the-moment. This is one of those pieces, applicable to any major designer, that define a certain moment in time. If 2010 had a uniform, this might just be it.

This is the most ornate and spectacular of the pieces and invites itself to welcome controversy. The outfit is a bit mundane but the cross is simply inspired.

Finally, the strongest piece of the show, it showcases all of the elements of the previous ones and then some.

For more photos visit the Unearthed Gallery at Flickr.

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