Local SAIC Fashion Design Students Present Final Collections

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) student fashion shows and the annual benefit, The Walk, is set for May 5.


In anticipation, we visited the SAIC workrooms and talked to four local graduating seniors about their impressively thoughtful collections.

Amanda Bauer, Long Grove

Though she’s always loved tinkering with fashion—she received her first sewing machine on her thirteenth birthday—Amanda Bauer never thought she could make a career of it. But after spending her freshman year at the University of Indiana, Bauer wanted to make the leap. SAIC, she says, was her first choice because of its strong interdisciplinary structure, a facet that separates the fashion program from its contemporaries.

“It allows you to work with the fibers department or the graphic design department, which really influenced my collection—I have a screen printed dress. It let me explore what I never got to before in art.”

For her clean, minimalist pieces, Bauer found herself addressing some emotionally turbulent experiences, and she looked back to drawings and silly books she’d created as a child.

“It’s a conversation between the adult self and the child self,” she says.

Liz Patelski, Park Ridge

Liz Patelski looked to dreams as inspiration for her work and evoked the mysterious, ethereal quality of night in the city, which can be both busy and empty.

“It’s about the time between being awake and dreaming, about not knowing what’s real and what’s a dream,” says Patelski, who mixed textures and patterns throughout her designs, but kept her color palette muted.

She has topped sleek dresses and pants with voluminous coats and capes to create elegant, urban silhouettes, but her pieces also echo a grittier element of city life that lends them a pleasing darkness: The thick nub of a jacket hints at tire skid marks, and a dress’s splattery print looks like puddles reflecting street lights.

Alicia Acevedo, Chicago

After an early class in footwear design, Alicia Acevedo, the winner of the Presidential Merit Scholarship, was hooked. Her final collection will include many footwear elements, including a pair of pants that turns into a shoe. These are not your 5-inch stilettoes, however: The core of the collection, Acevedo says, is about a person who can run as fast as she can.

With an athlete as her muse, Acevedo used mostly stretch fabric and flesh colors to mimic musculature, skin tones and the changes skin goes through during heightened physical emotions like fear, rage or sexual arousal.

A poem that Acevedo wrote also served as inspiration: “I love her skin/ I love her flesh/ But most of all I love her soul.”

“It can mean the sole of her shoe, or the essence of what makes a woman who she is,” she says.

Erin Pianetto, Barrington

A recipient of the Sage Foundation Scholarship, Erin Pianetto had the opportunity to travel to Paris as part of a summer study program. However, rather than living a dream come true, Pianetto found her sleep patterns so disrupted and the experience so isolating that she began having night terrors. She used her collection as a way to work through her emotional ordeal.

Inspired by nightgowns from the 1950s, as well as a disjointed, reassembled paper-doll aesthetic, Pianetto’s collection aims to be a reflection of the dream state. Sensual chiffons and silks in pastel shades are layered with unsettling appliques of spiders and eye lashes, for a look that’s first inviting, then eerie.

“Garments are like homes for people to live in,” says Pianetto. “You build this home, create this story, create this character, then dress them.”

For tickets or more information about the student fashion shows or The Walk 2011, the SAIC’s gala benefit honoring Ikram Goldman, call 312.899.1439 or visit saic.edu/fashionshow.