Even today’s most in-demand designers had, at one point, never sewn a garment. Those with a true passion for fashion worked their way up and now grace the runways of New York, Paris, Milan, and beyond. Every designer has a story, and York Furrier is so excited to support local fashion students as they embark on their journey to create fashion forward designs. Today, we share the story of a local gal that’s sure to capture the design spotlight as she writes her own story (with fur!) right here in Chicago.
Laura Anne Gordon is heading into her senior year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As one of the oldest fashion programs in the country, the school’s fashion department is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary. On May 2nd, Gordon and her fellow student designers showed off their collections at the SAIC student fashion show, The Walk, under the tent and on the runway in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
“This year went very well for me! I was overwhelmed by how many people approached me about my work and how positive the reception was,” Gordon said. “I even had the honor of winning The Walk Scholarship for the junior class this year.” The scholarship will cover one full year of her tuition!
York Furrier donated a merlot dyed fox fur to Laura’s collection, which she used as a trim on an edgy jacket with an original hand painted lining. “Fur is an undeniably gorgeous material … It was so incredibly generous of York Furrier to give me a fur trimmed coat to re-purpose into my collection and I am so grateful to them because I think it really added something special,” said Gordon. In fact, one of Gordon’s favorite fur garments she owns is a fox fur coat that her best friend’s mom gifted her.
When Gordon graduates, she’ll join the ranks of countless other SAIC alum doing incredible things in the fashion industry – Like Cynthia Rowley (left) and Maria Pinto (right). A Barrington, IL native, Rowley, credits her SAIC classroom experience with her current success as a designer. “SAIC taught me that there are no rules, no boundaries, and to always follow my dreams . . . and pretty much everything I know about designing clothes.” Most people know Pinto as a favorite designer of First Lady Michelle Obama’s stylish attire. A 1990 SAIC graduate, Pinto received the SAIC’s Legend of Fashion Award in 2009.
Ra’mon-Lawerence A. Coleman – who many know from Project Runway season 6 – is also a talented SAIC alum. He was selected by the Associated Fur Industries of Chicagoland to design a garment for a national fur design competition while still attending courses at SAIC. Adjunct Professor, Liat Smestad, who teaches a Fur Design and Techniques class, recognized Coleman’s talents and suggested him for the honor. Based on Coleman’s clever eye for design, York Furrier turned his sketch into a creative asymmetrical pink fox and mink jacket; which incidentally went on to be selected to represent the U.S. at the global competition in Milan where he placed 3rd from among the global entries. Today, Coleman lives in New York designing a line of wearable women’s clothing.
As a Senior SAIC design student, Blair Watkins Disbrow also showed her collection called The Bones of Firenze at the 2014 SAIC The Walk fashion show (left). Disbrow’s senior collection prominently featured fur and leather including a perforated leather jacket, a fur skirt, fur trimmed coat, and two fur handbags created from green dyed fox. As an SAIC graduate, Disbrow is fine tuning her portfolio and searching for the right venue to showcase her talents.
As for Laura Gordon, we’ll be following her story as she participates in the annual MIFUR Remix competition, through her senior year at SAIC, her senior collection for the The Walk, her graduation and beyond!
“In the short term I would really like to work for a designer who inspires me, like Phoebe Philo at Celine in Paris or Haider Ackermann in Antwerp. Long term I do think I would like to be my own boss, but I can’t think that far ahead yet! I like to take things one step at a time.”
(Photos of Laura’s collection, Rich Halpern; Photos of Blair’s collection, Robert F. Carl; Factor Model Management Runway Models: Nykala, Michelle, and Sam)