On the near north side of Chicago sits the well-established art community of River North. In the area between Michigan Avenue, Chicago Avenue, and the Chicago River, shoppers can find everything from galleries to boutiques to furniture shops to national retail stores.


During the late 1800s River North was the highly industrialized home to many Irish and Sicilian immigrants. At the time the neighborhood was filled with so much industrial pollution that it was commonly referred to as the “Smokey Hallow”. In the wake of WWII manufacturing took a dive and River North lost its industrial purpose. In the aftermath of this downfall many of the factories were briefly transformed into warehouses and showrooms before being completely abandoned only a few years later. Around the 1970s artists and other creative minds began to move to River North in search of cheap studio and loft space. Today River Park is one of the city’s most vibrant places to live and work. Although the neighborhood is still inhabited primarily by artists, other trendy young professionals have begun to move to River North in recent years.

During the first weekend in August, the neighborhood of River North hosts one of Chicago’s largest art fairs, the Gold Coast River North Art Fair. During this three-day long juried event artists come from all over the world to be judged on their wares.


On weekends tourists and Chicagoans alike flock to the River North district in search of trendy shops and galleries. Nearly every street in the neighborhood has something unique to offer. On the edge of the neighborhood is part of the Magnificent Mile, where shoppers can find any and every national brand.

Multi-story malls, high-end boutiques, and chain stores line this famous Chicago shopping destination. The rest of the neighborhood is made up primarily of galleries, antique shops, and furniture stores. And although they do not dominate the area there are several chic boutiques scattered throughout the neighborhood. While many of these boutiques only carry national designers there are a few neighborhood gems that stock the house brand or one or two Chicago designers.

There is a trendy, artistic vibe that runs throughout the neighborhood of River North that affects both the clothes that are sold and the people who wear them.



Ever wonder what the future might be like? See our version of it in our 2nd fashion editorial video “Future of Fashion” featuring designer Hakeem Gayden. The concept of the video has been build on the designer’s inspiration for the collection and metaphorically applied on the grand scale to the fashion industry in Chicago.


Hakeem’s collection “Blades of Petals” has been inspired by nature. Each piece is representative of a flower, colorful and rich, full of life and vibrant. As flowers that once were simply seeds and needed to be planted and cared for as they grow, the collection has been carefully put together with attention to the smallest details. This collection is symbolic of Hakeem’s own growth and maturity as a fashion designer.

The video takes place in a futuristic post-apocalyptic Chicago, burned with radiation and hit with rapid changes in weather it has become almost inhabitable with breathable air slowly disappearing. It is during these grim times that people have embraced things that have been taken for granted. Fashion.


Not knowing how much time they have left to live, they are not wasting any minute of it. Wearing daring designs with vibrant colors has become the norm. Having to wear the masks did not stop them from looking fashionable. The masks have become an accessory and complement the extravagant makeup.

In the video the metaphor of the flower growing out of a seed is applied to the fashion industry in Chicago, and how it is still growing and emerging. The industry is still conservative, however trying to break out of it. Young, up and coming designers slowly, but surely are changing this industry by introducing a new flare. And just like a flower growing from a seed, Chicago’s fashion scene will bloom. Hakeem’s designs are the future of Chicago’s fashion.


Video credits
Cast – Aya Jackson, Akosua Manu
Director – Raven
Creative Director – Ignacio Maldonado
Cinematographer – Theophilus Jamal
Story – Raven, Ignacio Maldonado, Hakeem Gayden
Written – Raven
Executive Producer – Raven
Fashion Design – Hakeem Gayden
Mask Accessories Design – Hakeem Gayden
Jewelry Design – Bella Colletta by Christina Bock
Editing and Color Correction – Matt Mantyla
Camera Assistant – Robert Parsons
2nd Camera Assistant – Kristine Kruse
Makeup – Kaori Nik
Original Soundtrack – KINE
Still photography – Julian Favela and Terence Lee



Chicago Fashion Connect got a chance to take a look at behind the scenes of a bridal photoshoot at the Vertigo Sky Lounge. The shoot combined two different styles of traditional bridal gowns, western and eastern. Watch the video to see the photoshoot in progress or read on to find out more about the team that put it together and the designers.

Chicago Fashion Connect got a chance to take a look at behind the scenes of a bridal photoshoot at the Vertigo Sky Lounge. The shoot combined two different styles of traditional bridal gowns, western and eastern. Watch the video to see the photoshoot in progress or read on to find out more about the team that put it together and the designers.

The photoshoot was organized by VIP Chicago Brides. Founded by Anita Arsova, the VIP Chicago Brides provides the ultimate “VIP” bridal experience by bringing the hair and makeup services directly to the bride’s location. Services are based on a personalized approach and are customized to each bride’s needs.

Vertigo Sky Lounge located in the heart of downtown on the roof of the Dana Hotel was a great location for a photoshoot. Floor to ceiling windows fill the lounge with light and provide the most amazing view of the city.

Deb and Dave

Charisma is an upscale South Asian fashions boutique located in Westmont. Run by Ritu Boorgu the boutique carries collections that are distinct in styles and silhouettes with traditional and modern embroidery in a variety of fabric combinations. Charisma carries saris for special occasions and events. The boutique also caters to brides that want to have a traditional South Asian wedding. Ritu Boorgu had showed some of the designs at the Latino Fashion Week, which CFC covered in Nov 2011.

Lauren Bridal is a family run business that keeps old fashioned values and aims to ensure their clients have the most memorable day. Laurel Bridal carries many unique elegant European bridal gowns.


Monica Johnson
Rachel Phillips
Lina Survilaite
Michelle Echevarria
Stevie Finedore

Ray Manrique
Emily Gualdoni

Anita Arsova

Anita Arsova
Kara Lozanovski
Ivana Triff

Makeup product:
Motives Makeup

Garrick Peterson