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Summer 2013




ur Summer Issue is representative of the new innovations at work for MODA Magazine. With a change in leadership, a larger format, and a redefined approach to how we conceptualize fashion, there is indeed much that speaks to new beginnings for the publication. However, MODA still remains rooted to its past, as a magazine founded in 2003 attempting to make fashion more relevant at UChicago. We recognize that its change has not been abrupt, but rather takes form as a gradual movement in the past 10 years towards a more focused product. As we consider MODA‘s current identity in light of its legacy, this issue also examines fashion’s rootedness in the past. Photographer Allison Titus captures the contemporary fascination with vintage aesthetics in her Summer of ’59 swimwear shoot, and writer Zahra Jooma pinpoints her own conflict between modern and traditional sartorial values in her article From Karachi to Chicago. Meanwhile the timelessness of the white dress for summer is displayed in Michael Gandy’s Renew shoot, epitomizing the feelings of rejuvenation that summer entails. “I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer,” states Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, and our hope is that this issue will similarly inspire you to take the summer to approach fashion with newfound zeal. Alexandra McInnis & Sara Hupp MODA Co-Editors-in-Chief


MODA Summer 2013


Alexandra McInnis & Sara Hupp (abroad)




WRITERS Sindhu Gnanasambandan, Jenn David, Amelia Hawkins, Zahra Jooma, Perry Leavitt, Ariel Stevenson, Adolfo Deulofeut PHOTOGRAPHERS Michael Gandy, Ivy Zhang, Alison Titus STYLISTS Maura Connors, Lukun Zhang, Rebecca Liu MODELS Ariella Hartman, Jade Goodwin-Carter, Nadia Habibie, Lucie Fama LAYOUT TEAM Rachel Scheinfeld, Dana Cohen

We would like to express our appreciation to The Maroon for graciously allowing us to use their office for our production purposes. Also, a special thanks to SGFC for providing us with the necessary funds to print our magazine. Thank you!



06 The must visit brunch spots for Summer ‘13. Don’t want to miss out!




Get the scoop on the hot spots for the perfect red velvet pancakes or eggs benedict that are a must to check out this summer. And our rec for where to stop for an after-brunch cocktail.


MODA goes backstage with the creative visionaries for University Theater’s Spring Show.



From Chicago to Karachi 1st year, Zahra Jooma, gives us an insight into how her surroundings can dictate her style.

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Modeling agent, Kasia, gives us a sneak peak into the ins and outs of the cut throat modeling industry.

Catch up with Of a Kind girls, Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo (U of C grads!).



An interview with University of Chicago Alums and Fashion Start-Up Extraordinaires, Claira Mazur and Erica Cerulo.

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Chicago may be a destination for food and art, but many do not know that some of the top, rising Jewelry designers in the US are based here within their creative studios in Chicago.



Jump into the water this summer in a retro swimsuit ready to impress.



The LWD takes the spotlight with Chicago’s industrial underworld as its background.


We bring you Retro swimwear on the shores of Chicago’s lakefront.


P. 34- Property of Pilsen- With a splash of punk, and a good dousing of denim, MODA takes over Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood for a shoot that will make you want to be wearing jean from head to toe in no time.

MODA Summer 2013



Summer Snapshot: Co-EIC, Alexandra McInnis, has rounded up this summer’s “must” list. Check out these upcomers that you won’t want to miss.

VISIT: the Art Institute of Chicago and check out Impressionism, Fashion, Modernity. The Art Institute is renowned for its collection of Impressionist art, and the upcoming exhibit, which was recently shown at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, aims to demonstrate how fashion was influential to the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Degas. With paintings from the big names surrounded by clothing from the era, the exhibit is set to be the artistic eye-candy event of the summer.

WATCH: Sofia Coppola’s latest project, The Bling Ring. Based off of a real life group of teenage delinquents who broke into famous Hollywood homes to steal celebrity possessions, the film is also gaining hype for its “true events” intrigue, as well as part of Emma Watson’s post-Harry Potter years. But it’s the Coppola factor that convinces us the film will have a dynamic edge.

READ: A Delicate Truth by John le Carré. For those of us who are fans of Cold War-era suspense, a new le Carré espionage novel is always a source of excitement. But A Delicate Truth, a tale of an American-British covert mission set in 2008, is far more accessible to readers looking for a more contemporary tale. At 81 years old, le Carré’s stylish and compelling prose has yet to disappoint.


MODA Summer 2013


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LISTEN: to MGMT, the third album by, well, MGMT. Remember the favorites of our high school days, such as “Kids” and “Electric Feel?” Disclaimer: the band is not intending to recapture the psychedelic rock glory of their former hipster-gonemainstream hits. Rather, the band says that MGMT will contain some more obscure tunes that will embody the band’s changing identity.

GO: to the Chicago French Film Festival at the Music Box Theatre to indulge your inner Francophile. With films such as The Day I Saw Your Heart starring Mélanie Laurent, or Beloved with French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve, the second annual Chicago French Film Festival is bringing contemporary French films that have an otherwise minimal distribution in the US. Don’t miss the screening of the charming color restoration of George Méliès’ groundbreaking 1902 film, A Trip to the Moon.

SAMPLE: delicacies from all across the city at the Taste of Chicago food festival in Grant Park. The incredible four day festival attracts millions of attendants per year, and the main culinary attractions include items from gourmet restaurants and food trucks alike. Apart from eating, the festival also boasts professional mixologists, sommeliers, and head chefs to give you the run-down on the art of gastronomy.

MODA Summer 2013



The Brunchies. With Summer around the corner, everyone is in need of a little R&R and what better way to kick back and relax than with some delicious brunch. Perry Leavitt ‘16 spotlights three places you won’t want to miss this summer.

From the top left going counter-clockwise: brunch at The Little Goat, Minday’s Hot chocolate menu and treats, picture of the bongo room exterior, red velvet pancakes from the bongo room, selection of drinks from Mindy’s, and the bartender at Scofflaw. All photos taken from


MODA Summer 2013


THE LITTLE GOAT: Restaurant chef/owner of Girl & the Goat, Stephanie Izard, opened Little Goat just under six months ago. Little Goat is an extension of the older restaurant (located right across the street), but with a new twist. The space is organized into enclosed sections consisting of a coffee shop, bakery, deli, bar, retail space, and sit-down dining. The restaurant part of Little Goat is styled after a 1950s diner that is a more affordable and casual version of the original restaurant. The breakfast menu features items like “Bulls Eye French Toast,” which consists of a piece of French toast with an over-easy egg in the center and is served with boneless chicken nuggets. Another favorite for any time of day is the Ritz-cracker macaroni and cheese. If you are the type of person who enjoys a cocktail with Sunday brunch, the Bloody Mary will not disappoint; this spicy yet savory concoction will put you in a good mood for the rest of the day. The menu does provide a variety of burgers, yet I would suggest trying some of the more innovative dishes. When going to Little Goat you are experiencing a taste of the gastronomy-inspired food at Girl & the Goat for a more college-friendly budget. While the wait at Girl & the Goat can be very long, Little Goat is more conducive for a larger group. Bonus: Little Goat’s location in the Loop makes it very accessible for any University of Chicago student. Location: 820 W Randolph St Chicago, IL 60607. MINDY’S HOT CHOCOLATE: Located in the hip neighborhood of Bucktown, Mindy’s HotChocolate will definitely satisfy any customer’s sweet tooth. Mindy Segal, a James Beard Award-winning chef, opened Mindy’s HotCholate last May. While the name may be misleading, this restaurant does serve other food besides dessert. In fact, the Chicago Tribune ranked the cheddar melt as the best sandwich in Chicago, which consists of six-year old aged cheddar melted on honey glazed pumpernickel bread and toasted to perfection. The sweet side of the menu features a variety of traditional desserts that complement the restaurant’s famous hot chocolate topped with homemade marshmallows. For those customers who are of age, the Hot Butter Rum is a perfect

after meal treat. Mindy’s HotChocolate is a trendy destination for a Sunday brunch followed by shopping in Bucktown. Location: 1747 North Damen Ave Chicago, Illinois 60637. THE BONGO ROOM: One of Chicago’s most beloved brunch spots is the Bongo Room. Located in Wicker Park, Bongo Room is suitable for all meals, but breakfast is the specialty. The owners, chef John J. Latino and Derrick J. Robes, created a warm yet chic atmosphere for their clientele. The Bongo Room is famous for its unique twist on traditional breakfast dishes, with items like red velvet or oversized whole-wheat pecan pancakes that will most certainly fill you up for the rest of the day. The variety in the menu creates endless temptations, so I’d recommend dining with a group and ordering dishes to share. A bite of the creamy eggs benedict or tower of chocolate French toast will satisfy all of your comfort food needs. The restaurant also serves sandwiches and salads if you are not in the mood for breakfast during your Sunday brunch. Since the restaurants only seats twenty-one, the best bet is going at off times for those who do not want to wait. Location: 1152 S Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL.

Where to Go for Your Post-Brunch Drink: SCOFFLAW: Each year Chicago Magazine ranks the 100 best bars. This year’s winner, Scofflaw, most certainty is worthy of this title. Co-owner Dan Shapiro worked under famous mixologist Paul McGee at The Whistler (No. 5) before opening Scofflaw, and the commitment to detail in the drinks is clear. While you will find your typical Gin and Tonic on the menu, the bar is more famous for its innovative drinks. The Swizzle #3 (Death’s Door gin, rum, Lillet blonde, passion fruit, lime, orgeat, and bitters) is just one example of the creative drinks served at Scofflaw. Scofflaw menu also consists of various champagne drinks that are great for a relaxing Sunday post-brunch beverage. The interior has a hipster or thrift shop vibe mixed with an air of elegance. Location: 3201 W Armitage Ave Chicago, IL 60647. MODA Summer 2013



Everyday Merchants. by Ariel Stevenson photos provided by Michelle Grifka


his 9th week marks the opening of The Merchant of Venice by the University of Chicago’ University Theatre and the Dean’s Men. Directing the play is Anna Meredith, who envisioned her adaptation of the Shakespeare play set in 1930’s New York. I had the opportunity to meet with Michele Grifka, the costume designer for the University Theatre, who gave me some insight into the importance of the fashions in the play. The Merchant of Venice revolves around two best friends, Bassanio and Antonio, and Bassanio is trying to woo Portia, a beautiful high-class woman. In order to do so, however, he must look the part. Bassanio thus goes from being a poor scholar in shirt sleeves and exposed suspenders to a dapper gentleman in full three piece suits. Meanwhile Antonio, a merchant in Ven-


MODA Summer 2013

ice, rents money from Shylock, who asks for a pound of flesh if the money isn’t returned in time. Of course, the two friends aren’t able to repay the loan, and they must defend themselves against Shylock, who is trying to impose the bargain on Antonio through court. “There’s this great scene where Portia and her ladymaid, Narissa, are dressed as men and acting as lawyers and judges convincing through pure argument for [Bassanio and Antonio] why Shylock can’t do this,” says Grifka. This holds pertinence as there are only three female characters in the show, and Portia and Narissa in particular act as the voice of reason throughout the play. When the women dressed as men for a scene in which reason and power is needed, the wardrobe tells the audience that these women are on par with men, in dress, attitude, and intellect.

MODAfeatures Considering that the main tension of the play is between the desire for something utterly out of range and the extent to which one is willing to go to obtain it, the use of the Depression era as the play’s setting is fitting. In a period of both low times and an intense desire for everyday glamour, the 1930’s provide the perfect backdrop for the socially conscious characters. The era allowed for more flamboyance in color and cut of dress, and also used clothing as a strong indicator of socio-economic status. Men dressed in suits of all colors and cuts, for which palettes, propensities to match, and separable pieces all mark class. Their various levels of suit composition act as a class gradient, with those with more money being able to wear complete suits. Mix-matching colors in the suit pieces were an act of flamboyance that was afforded to the wealthy, and while it was considered bizarre, it was not out of the question for the period. The fashion options for women are meanwhile embodied in the wardrobe of the society beauty Portia, who is dressed in pure

1930’s feminine glamour, with a knee-length cut, flutter sleeves, loose- waisted dresses. Grifka visited many thrift and costume shops in order to find the right matches for the play, making minor alterations to fit the actors as needed. She browsed through Sears Catalogs, photographs (any example of anything from that period), then “…I just let those images ferment in my head… and then I draw I drew my own sketches.” She works actively with Meredith and she looks in the huge UT costume storage for potential pieces. If she can’t find what she’s looking for, Grifka sifts through Chicago vintage stores. Her three costume assistants are there to create all the final details, as well as to build certain pieces and accessories, such as sashes and armbands. It’s an extensive effort, but considering how central clothing is to The Merchant of Venice, it’s certain to be a rewarding process. The University Theatre’s “The Merchant of Venice” will premiere on Thursday, May 30th in the Logan Center Courtyard.

MODA Summer 2013



the Craze of the Nike


ike has long been known for making some of the world’s best high performance athletic shoes and apparel. Now, however, they have changed the game. Enter the Nike Roshe Run: a chukka-inspired runner’s shoe that has taken the shoe world by storm. Introduced just last year by designer Dylan Raasch , this simple yet elegant shoe brings the best of all worlds when it comes to searching for a dependable pair of casualwear sneakers: an affordable price, a timeless design, and an incredible level of comfort. As style constantly evolves in our generation, these shoes maintain a level of modernity blended with a semi-retro minimalistic look that maintains a high level of allure with a beautiful low-profile image. The main goals in its creation were comfort and simplicity, and the outcome does not disappoint. Raasch tells that he chose his love for meditation as his inspiration and that he “designed the shoe to be as simple as possible keeping only what was necessary,” which includes the ventilated running shoe upper with a thick soled cushioning. This decision to keep the shoe with an uncluttered design is the Roshe Run’s main attraction: it looks and feels new while remaining understated. These qualities are the future of the sneaker industry, as it heads for a more wearable line of products with formalwear. The look is catching on: Lebron James has started sporting Roshe Runs himself, and it is rumored that Kanye West recently purchased a pair. Many people look for a sneaker that can be dressed up or dressed down, and the Roshe Run is one great option for those looking for a newly designed shoe. Built with the dual


MODA Summer 2013

Roshe Run purpose of being worn with or without socks, in addition to the dozens of colorways, the Roshe Run could very well be the solution to those seeking a versatile, comfortable shoe. With a Solarsoft insole, Phylon midsole, and a thick, supportive outsole, as well as many options of uppers (ventilated fabric, suede, two-tone suede, woven fibers, special edition materials like denim) there seems to be no limit to the customizability of these shoes. In fact they appear to meet the demands of everyone who has wanted a pair, coinciding with the world’s newfound need for instant gratification and individualization. We all constantly want things as fast as possible with as little hassle as possible, and isn’t that what the mantra of the Roshe Run abides by, with its streamlined speed-themed upper and soles so comfortable you’d rather sleep with them on than off? Chicago is a bit behind on the Roshe Run bus, but not to worry: with the massive and recently renovated Nike store down on Michigan Avenue you can pick up your pair for $70. And if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more special, there’s even better news: the Roshe Run is finally on the Nike ID program, which means you can customize this shoe to no end online and have it delivered to you within two weeks’ time ($110-$120). Shoes are always tricky to make decisions on, but it seems that this shoe will be around for some time due to its high demand, so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone into an even more comfortable zone for the spring and summer to come. (source: exclusive-the-story-behind-the-nike-roshe-run/)

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Adolfo Deulofeut explores the hype over the new Nike Roshe Run and how it is taking the sneaker world by storm. Where will it run us next?


The It Factor. Jen David ‘17, chats with model industry insider, agent, and former model, Kasia Koniar of Next Model Managment. pictures of Kasia from


eginning in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century, the modeling industry has since evolved into both a glamorous business and a serious profession. Over the years, interest in and attention to modeling has increased, especially due to the America’s Next Top Model franchise and the accessibility of the industry to people all over the world. Kasia Koniar, the Director of Scouting and Development at the Factor Women modeling agency and a former model herself, points to both television and the Internet as transforming the industry in recent years. “Anyone in the most remote part of the world can now apply to an agency in NYC or Chicago,” says Kasia. “TV took modeling to rock star status. The problem is everyone wants to be a model, but few have the actual potential to succeed on a grand scale.” From being on all sides of the business, Kasia understands this better than anyone. In her current position she both scouts for new models and helps shape them into marketable talent. Looks, while important, are not enough to guarantee success of a model: fitness, body line, and personality are all crucial as well. The most crucial factor of all, however, is professionalism: “People see the glamour, but forget that this is a multi-billion dollar industry, and a business first and foremost,” says Kasia. “Successful models are true networkers and know the business inside and out. They can move in front of the camera, emote, devote their lives to staying in shape and maintaining the relationships they have built in the business. It’s a very demanding job!” Not only is it a demanding job, but there are few who are qualified to do it. As Kasia explains, the window of opportunity is small, and many of the requirements (such as height) are not things that somebody can work on—“It’s either in your DNA or it isn’t.” However, while the requirements haven’t changed significantly over the years, the industry

has developed to allow for the inclusion of new kinds of women. Since women are maintaining their youthful looks longer into their lives, there are now models booking campaigns in their mid to late twenties and even working well into their 30’s and 40’s. Also, the industry is become more ethnically diverse, as Asian models and other ethnicities are becoming more and more prevalent. The evolving industry allows for the inclusion of more models that more accurately reflect and relate to the women they are appealing to through their work. The industry also changes depending on the city in which it is located. There are four “A markets” in the modeling industry: New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Milan. Chicago, where Kasia works, is considered a B market, but this isn’t because it’s “worse,” it’s simply that there are only the four A markets in the world. B markets are more commercial, though Chicago, according to Kasia, has a strong mix of commercial and editorial fashion work. On the personal level, Chicago is a more friendly and easy-going environment. “Agents here are probably more nurturing and patient,” says Kasia. Especially for a young model, it’s important to have that kind of atmosphere when the job is so demanding as it is. Despite how serious and rigorous the profession is, modeling is still exciting and rewarding. During Kasia’s time as a model, she traveled the world and lived in multiple countries, meeting unique people and learning several languages. Now, she gets to pass on her knowledge and help her models succeed. Her tips for those aspiring to work in the fashion industry? “Do a lot of research about the requirements, demands and the nature of your dream job. Be realistic and professional. Internships and mentors are a great way to gain insight. Ask a lot of questions.” If you have what it takes, it’s worth it. MODA Summer 2013



From Karachi

to Chicago

Zahra Jooma ‘16, gives an insight into her life as an international student from Karachi, Pakistan, and how her surroundings inspires and directs her day-to-day style.


akistan just had its 2013 Fashion Week. It was a three-day extravaganza, and as the models wafted down the runway in tiny gold dresses and billowing evening gowns it was easy for all those present to feel like they were transported to a country that wasn’t termed by The Times as the most dangerous country in the world. Despite all the social and political problems Pakistan continues to be barreled by, its fashion industry is thriving, with new designers springing up constantly and old design houses turning over revenues in the millions. However, despite the glamour of the fashion world, daily


MODA Summer 2013

living is still affected by traditional Pakistani culture. Putting on a pair of sweats over my shorts for the car ride to the gym, for instance, is an everyday occurrence. At the heart of the restrictions, people like me—those who have had the fortune of being shielded from the poverty that much of Pakistan experiences—face a slightly darker truth: we live a life of isolation and privilege that is a stark contrast to the majority of my country. Fashion in Pakistan therefore seems to be an almost confused meeting of the Eastern and Western world, where the well-travelled and the educated incorporate

MODAspeaks everything they see abroad into a culture that is almost that both groups ascribe to. Fashion therefore, while a polar opposite. The traditional Pakistani dress is the progressing and evolving every day, becomes emblematic shalwar kameez: a loose outfit of pants, a shirt, and a of a country where two major cultures tied in the same dupatta, which is piece of cloth that is draped across one’s tradition coexist, and with more than just clothing as an upper body mostly for modesty. As times have changed emerging difference. This divide manifests itself simply the duppatta has slowly disappeared, as the shirts are in the starkly different lifestyles that Pakistani people tighter and the pants too change their form depending continue to lead, and fashion becomes more than simply on the trends. Interestingly enough, however, despite clothes but instead an outward manifestation of that how modern Pakistani clothes seem to have become, lifestyle. While a large part of the Pakistani population the emphasis still lies on feminine cuts and tailoring; lives on less then 8,000 rupees a day, those that have the concept of women dressing androgynously is still the monetary means spend 50,000 rupees and upwards completely unheard of. on both outfits by famous Pakistani designers like SanaGrowing up my entire life in Karachi, the largest city in Safinaz and Bunto Kazmi, along with international Pakistan, means that I have had the privilege of growing designers like Lanvin and Roberto Cavalli. The privilege up in a cosmopolitan area—in fact, the fifth largest city in to wear certain clothes comes with your lifestyle, the world. Luckily for me, however, I experienced many where you live, how you live and where you go. While other cultures beyond my this fashionable side of home city on frequent Pakistan represents an vacations with my family almost forward moving to other countries. Pakistan, it also forgets Pakistan’s fascination that many have no access with the so-called ‘West,’ at all to this kind of as archaic as that sounds, glamour. has done more than just For me, fashion has crept into the traditional become just a part of clothing. The larger cities my life that I enjoy, but in Pakistan are famous there are times where for their ‘Birkin Brigades,’ just putting on an outfit because frankly Pakistani for class in the morning women love flaunting spurs a thought process money, specifically when that people coming from it comes to handbags that a culture like mine would are foreign and crudely put, the more Zahra (center right), along with some of her not recognize. When I recently put expensive the better. For a country friends from home, dressed in traditional garb. on a pair of polka dotted shorts and a that has exposure to significantly a lot less, its people are tank top, I thought to myself how simple it would be if I always hungry for more, and this too manifests itself in could walk around at home like this. And then it hit me the way people dress and adorn themselves. Jewelry is that I was living a life that was socially and culturally so also something Pakistanis love—and well, if you haven’t different from what the norm at home was. Therefore the already assumed, they opt for the biggest pieces possible. way I dress is almost representative of something larger This is all probably painting a picture of a superficial at play; I am a part of a generation that is still rooted in society, but that’s not what Pakistan really is. It’s still a the traditions that made me who I am, but also a part of country that is humble and beautiful even while being a culture that in some ways is becoming a smaller and fractured, for it is a country that has nothing but its people smaller part of me. Sometimes I wonder where on the to sustain it. While the politicians year after year continue spectrum of East and West I lie, since I dress the way to steal from the already suffering country, it is the people everyone around me at UChicago does, but when I go that remain and work day in and day out who keep the home I dress the way most people on a national level economy and the society afloat. Yet fashion in Pakistan can’t afford to do. does expose a large disconnect between the more affluent What does all this mean? I don’t really know yet, and those that are still struggling, for as the gap between though for now it just means I won’t be taking my shorts the rich and the poor increases so do the cultural norms home for summer. Those are for Chicago.

MODA Summer 2013



LIFE ON FASHION ROW by Amelia Hawkins


t’s Friday afternoon in mid April, and the sidewalks in downtown Chicago are dusted with a fine layer of snow. I slink through crowds of tourists dressed in spring jackets and athletic fleeces, keeping my head turned to the ground so as not to ruin my freshly trimmed bangs in the unseasonable sleet. I arrive at Pierrot Gourmet, a rustic French café nestled in the Peninsula Hotel. “Table for two,” I say as I unravel my pashmina and unbutton my coat. My favorite waiter seats me at one of the long communal tables in the center of the dining room and immediately fills me a cup of freshly brewed decaf. When no one’s looking, I slip off my ballet flats to kick out the snow stuck to the bottom of my stockings--I know better than to meet Martin Lerma for lunch in a pair of Uggs. My phone illuminates to alert me of an incoming text. “Just finished class. On my way” the message flashes. The café sits on the edge of the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University, where Martin and I met our freshman year of college before I transferred to the University of Chicago. We crossed paths in September 2010 fresh off of an unbearably peppy Orientation Week that left us with unsightly tan lines and laminated Student IDs that were far from flattering. We were outsiders not looking to fit in—as I longed to be an El ride away at UChicago, the school that had rejected me a matter of months ago, Martin daydreamed of New York City where he had finished a coveted summer internship at The Row. We were soul mates of a sort. As I wait, I flip through Martin’s Facebook photos


MODA Summer 2013

of that summer--pictures of Greenwich Village where he lived on the NYU campus, and a screenshot of a Bergdorf Goodman webpage advertising a nylon/lycra blend miniskirt from The Row called “The Lerma,” named in honor of him by twin creative directors, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. I look up from my phone to find Martin ushered in from the cold, dressed in his usual cashmere scarf, black tee, and dark wash denim. “Hey, babe,” he murmurs in a voice as deep and smooth as that of a movie star. Over heaping bowls of salad, we catch up on the latest Real Housewives gossip and his summer plans at a startup fashion magazine. Between bites of avocado and faro, I finally ask him to tell me the story of the summer before we met. I know the story from passing comments and brief reminiscences in the Loyola dining hall that I had pieced together to form a kind of dreamy yarn that seemed more like a TV sitcom than real life. Fresh out of high school, Martin left his small town in Indiana to pursue his dream of working in the fashion industry in New York City. He had recently come out to his parents as gay, and wasn’t on particularly good terms with them. “I felt stuck,” he admits. Martin goes on to describe the frustration of living in Highland, Indiana, his struggle to adhere to a small town sense of normalcy, and his ultimate feeling of dislocation and loneliness. Fashion was Martin’s chance to escape it all. I ask what attracted him to fashion. “The idea of transformation,” he explains with sweeping gesticulations, “that what you wore could literally change who you were. .


. with that comes a freedom from expectation. The ability Martin and I get up from our seats to pick out dessert to hide and be seen more than ever at the same time.” As from the glass case at the front of the restaurant. As we eye Martin talks, I realize this is perhaps what he had wanted fruit tarts and trays of macaroons, Martin explains that back in Highland—to be free from the expectations of it was The Row’s then senior designer, James Ott, with family and friends, to be himself without apology. whom he made a lasting friendship that summer. Both With no experience other than worshipping at the from humble Midwestern beginnings, the two bonded over altar of Harper’s Bazaar, and no industry connections to an adolescent dream of running away to New York City. speak of, the odds of securing an internship at a fashion “From the beginning we were equals and learned from one house weren’t in his favor. But after a brief, yet heartfelt another.” cold email to James Ott, The Row’s then senior designer, “What made Jay so special?” I ask as we return to our Martin snagged his dream fashion internship. seats. Martin pauses, as if he were piecing together just the “Why The Row?” I ask. At the time, The Row was rights words to describe him. nothing more than a startup design “[He] created an environment where house known for its T-shirts and celebrity I could learn and observe without feeling creative figureheads. With a staff of self-conscious. I could express my love of twelve over-tired and underfed twentyfashion, I could talk about being gay for somethings and one runway show under the first time in my entire life. We shared its belt, The Row certainly didn’t have a drive and spirit. Sometimes we need the resources or clout of a major label. special people to give us the permission “It had this minimalism that wasn’t to become our best selves.” cold or clinical. It was relaxed. It was Three years later, Martin remains sensual. When I was first introduced close with James, who has since become to the [The Row], I thought, ‘Whoever the senior designer at J. Mendel. made these clothes was really special.’” “We share some critical fundamental By June, Martin found himself attributes and beliefs,” he explains, “how sharing an NYU dorm room with two we see the world, our concern for others, roommates, living on $25 a week, and and the love of the arts.” commuting by subway to The Row design “So was it hard to leave New York?” I studio in Chelsea. “The studio was just realize this is perhaps a foolish question. like you’d imagine it,” he says between “On my last day of work, I got in sips of his chamomile tea, “it was this big, the elevator and started crying behind bright white space with potted orchids my Wayfarers,” he laughs. The waiter and racks of clothes. The fridge was filled brings us our desserts—a slice of crème with Coke Zero and a couple pieces of The Row Lerma miniskirt named after fraîche cheesecake and a couple of pistachio Martin Lerma by twin creative directors, fruit—there was no lunch break.” macaroons. His voice trails off. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Martin laughs as I ask him to describe “I cried because I was so grateful to a typical day. “Long. It wasn’t unusual to spend twelve have the opportunity I did. The Row was a new label then. hours on your feet. Most of the time, I ran errands around Their success lined up with my graduation from high the city. I spent a lot of time running up and down 7th school and the formation of a team of very special people. I Avenue with garment bags slung over my shoulders,” he can’t help but think I was destined to be there when I was. says “I worked very hard, just like everyone else, but I loved . . . It’s one of a very select number of moments we have in it. Every day I was tired and hungry, but that job and the our lifetimes when we can pinpoint that something about people there brought me such joy that it didn’t matter.” ourselves fundamentally changed.” When I ask him about this joy, he responds with ease. “What changed?” I ask. We finish up our desserts “I didn’t expect everyone to be so wonderful,” he says with and coffee. Martin slides a last bite of cheesecake through a smile. “I couldn’t have come to The Row at a more perfect the leftover raspberry coulis on his plate. A Jean Jacques time—when you work with such a small group of people Goldman song playing on the overhead speakers trails off, who are so similar in age, you inevitably become friends. giving way to Edith Piaf. He finally answers. I was around fantastic people every day who. . . . looked “The summer broke me open in ways I had never at me as an equal and not an intern.” They were, in short, experienced. It allowed me to finally let go of the pain I had people who believed in him. dealt with for years.” MODA Summer 2013


MODAfeatures MODAInterviews

The New Sparkle

Chicago’s Up and Coming Jewelry Designers You don’t have to look too far to find the right embellishments for your summer wardrobe, as some of the industry’s most passionate and promising jewelry designers are located right here in Chicago. Writer, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, speaks to three entrepreneurs who all found their calling in jewelry design and are following that voice wholeheartedly.


ewelry design is a rather specific niche within the fashion industry, and for Laura Lombardi, Sarah Fox, and Winifred Grace, it is a path that each of them didn’t initially plan to be on, but that their artistic natures somehow led them to. Fox is the owner of Cursive Design, based in Chicago and Milwaukee, and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a focus in Sculpture, Color Theory, and Lighting Design. She accredits stumbling into jewelry design to a simple lack of workspace. “My business grew rather organically out of a desire to keep making things after school but not having much space to work in. Everything needed to fit on the kitchen table, and making the jump from sculpture to jewelry isn’t that big of a leap. The elements are the same,” said Fox. Since then, she has found considerable success, being the only jewelry designer to have created an exclusive piece for Project Runway, which was


MODA Summer 2013

shown during the spring shows at New York Fashion Week in the fall of 2012. Grace entered the jewelry design sphere in an equally serendipitous way. She always liked art as a kid, selling tortoise barrettes with handpainted whales and balloons to a local boutique at the age of 6, but she lost sight of this passion to the pressures of practicality that came along with age. It was not until well into her twenties, after she had majored in Spanish and was doing administrative work for National Geographic that she decided to switch paths. “It was a gorgeous spring day and I was attending a funeral of a co-worker and somebody stood up and gave this eulogy about this woman named Joy saying, ‘she did what she loved and she loved what she did. I remember sitting at the back of the church thinking, oh my god, I am so not doing what I love,” Grace said, describing her moment of realization. After the event, she enrolled herself in graduate school for graphic design

and after 3 years of being a graphic designer, she started doing small time jewelry shows. Her career as a jewelry designer continued on from there. Since their chance entries into the industry, each has developed their unique style. Lombardi predominately works with vintage and repurposed material, employing themes of repetition and appropriation. Fox, on the other hand, finds most of her inspiration in nature, juxtaposing metals and sporadic pops of color to capture unique natural concepts in her pieces. Grace admits to initially conceding to what was popular with her designs, incorporating lots of color and gemstones. Now, she is inspired by visually rich textures and patterns, getting a lot of her inspiration from the area where her parents live in Florida which she describes as a “lush, green, organic, overgrown place.” Other sources include indigenous art, tapestries and adornments. Lombardi, Fox, and Grace each acknowledge the challenges of their

From left to right: Sarah Fox of Cursive Design, Laura Lombardi, Winifred Grace. Products to the right in according order with designer pictures. All pictures from artist’s websites,, and

chosen careers, emphasizing how important it has been for them to pave a path that is unique and specific to their own individual spirits. “I think that to stand out in what is becoming a hyper-saturated market it’s important not only to create a distinctive product, but to build your brand upon what sets you apart from the rest,” Lombardi said. “The best way to set yourself apart in the industry is to have a unique and well-made product. It’s useful to be aware of trends but ultimately your ‘inner design voice’ needs to drive the work instead of vice versa,” Fox said, “I think it’s really crucial to take some time to know your aesthetic really well in the beginning since it’s the foundation for everything.” Grace spoke of the progression of her confidence in her work that has taken time to build but has been crucial to her successes. “I do two to three collections a year and I am finding that the longer that I do this, the more that the jewelry is a reflection of me, rather than what I think other people want. With time has come this confidence of my aesthetic,” she said. “People could offer me suggestions about what I should do with my business, but I needed to make my own decisions, and fail on my own, and see on my own.” Another challenge lies in that, beyond their artistic work, each must take on an entrepreneurial role as well—creating a business from top down, along with the creation of their designs.

“I remember the first morning I woke up, thinking this is Monday morning, so what do I now? This is my job now? What is my day going to look like? It was like reinventing what your life looks life,” Grace said. There is something unsettling about the freedom and lack of format and structure to the career but Grace has found a way to insert her own level of order, at least in her work. “As a creative person or designer, the sky is the limit. It is really awesome but really overwhelming. To give yourself certain rules and regulations—to put yourself in a box can be helpful. I find that sometimes if you create this little world within the type of design you are in, it can push you to take one idea and push it farther and deeper rather than wider,” she said. Challenges aside, the supportive nature and highly creative environment of the design community in Chicago has helped each designer along in her journey. “When I go to New York, I feel like it is so saturated. Everyone is trying to do the same thing, everybody is trying to get ahead and everybody is a jewelry designer,” Grace said. “Living in Chicago, I find, allows me to be more true to myself as a designer and not be intimidated by a lot of competition. It seems like a supportive community here.” Lombardi also feels this way about the community, emphasizing the inspiring nature of it as well as the gen-


eral space and freedom Chicago has to offer artists like her. Beyond jewelry, each artist feels an affinity to the general fashion scene in Chicago, although there is debate about whether boundaries are being challenged enough. “Chicago style is approachable and practical. People have fun and experiment with their looks, but overall there is a Midwestern sensibility that keeps things in check. However, I do think there is more room for risk-taking and envelope-pushing when it comes to style in this city,” Lombardo said. “Chicago’s style definitely breaks down neighborhood by neighborhood. It’s nice because you can hop around the city and see a ton of diversity and creativity around. My neighborhood rocks the denim pretty hard. It’s like creative casual. Denim on denim but with great accessories,” Fox said. Regardless of how each view the fashion trends exercised in her community, the space of Chicago has been essential to their growth and success as jewelry designers. Grace, Lombardi, and Fox are strongly rooted here as it is where they have been able to fully realize their passions- a task that has been essential to their personal sense of purpose and happiness. “It may sound corny but my goal is pretty simple— to bring joy into other people’s lives while pursuing a career that I find stimulating and fulfilling. Making jewelry is the most effective way I know how to do that,” Fox said. MODA Summer 2013




Interview conducted by former Of a Kind Intern, Rachel Scheinfeld. MODA: As former graduates of UofC, how do you feel that your undergraduate education influenced where you are today? How has UofC infiltrated itself both into your day to day life as well as Of a Kind as a business itself. erica We always say that U of C taught us to think critically, and that’s absolutely a huge part of launching a company. You are hit with so many curveballs along the way, and having the faith that you can—and will—somehow figure out solutions can make all the difference. Also: UChicago teaches you to work. Having an idea is next to nothing if you can’t execute, and that requires putting in serious hours. For us, the holiday season honestly felt like one souped-up finals week. MODA: Were there any experiences in particular that you had at chicago that pushed you to pursue work in the creative fields? If so, what were some of these experiences or stories. claire I was very involved with FOTA all throughout my time at U of C. I loved doing it and it was hugely influential on what I did post-graduation. When I was getting ready to graduate I said to myself “how can I just do FOTA for the rest of my life?”— and that’s how I ended up pursuing my master’s in arts administration. I wanted to learn how to facilitate the production and consumption of the arts in ways that would be supportive


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of artists and accessible to audiences. It’s that same instinct—and education—that ultimately led to Of a Kind. MODA: What has been the most challenging part of starting your own company? erica In the beginning, prelaunch, the most challenging part was working on something that didn’t exist yet. When you tell people that you’re starting a company, their eyes kind of glaze over, and there’s just this really intense amount of internal pressure because you just have no idea how people will respond to what you’re building. Now that we’re two years in and have a team of really passionate, amazing people working with us, I think the hardest part has been delegating and learning to manage. Since Of a Kind is our baby, it’s really hard to let certain things go, even when we know we have to and that everything will be a-ok. MODA: Although we at Moda see fashion as more than just clothing, many people in the world view fashion as a trivial subject. How do you think Of a Kind, along with both of you as individuals has challenged this stereotype? Do you think your time at UChicago had any influence on this? claire One of our favorite compliments has been when someone says “I don’t consider myself a fashion per-

son, but I love Of a Kind”, or “I don’t read fashion sites, but I always read Of a Kind.” We value fashion immensely but we don’t take it too seriously— and we don’t pretend that it’s the only thing around. We try to weave in references to other parts of life (art! food! movies!) whenever possible. Neither of us came from traditional fashion backgrounds, so I think that has helped. And our time at UChicago has had an influence in that it taught us how to think critically and to question everything. We read the industry news not just so we can be in the know, but so that we can analyze what’s happening and gain perspective on the overall ecosystem and how it relates to our business. I think that’s an instinct that was nurtured at Chicago. MODA: If you could choose one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were at UofC what would it be? (Aka what is your advice to current students) erica Don’t get trapped in the U of C bubble. It’s important to, you know, ENGAGE with the outside world and explore things you’re excited about. No matter what field you want to go into when you graduate—fashion or tech or whatever—you’ll be a much more appealing job candidate if you’re up on what’s happening in that realm. Saying “oh, the workload at Chicago was really intense” is not an excuse.


photos from

Of a Kind’s

UChicago Bucket List:

MODA: Technology is such an important part of your business. With the continuous innovation that is present in the world today and it’s influence on businesses, where do you see Of a Kind in the next 5 years? claire The next big move for us is to launch a network of storefronts so that our designers can sell their full collections through us and so that our audience can shop more than just the limited-edition pieces from the designers we introduce. Online sales of apparel and accessories are seeing huge growth, and that has major significance for the emerging design community—it enables young designers to sustain and grow their businesses with relatively low overhead costs. We’re building Of a Kind with an eye towards supporting that type of growth for designers while expanding and improving what we’re offering our customers.

1. Eat pub wings as much as possible. 2. Take an econ course. Don’t wait until your fourth year to try to

MODA: Of a Kind is the go to place to spot up and coming designers. Any recommendations for who we should keep an eye out for in the next few years? erica We’re really excited about some of the designers coming out of Chicago! Sarah Fox of Cursive Design, Laura Lombardi, and Winifred Grace make awesome jewelry, and we’re really stoked on what Hound and Creatures of the Wind are doing on the apparel front. The latter was a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner up in 2011, even.


get in to one at which point it will be too late.

3. Get involved with an RSO—they empower students in a really

unique way and the practical skills you develop will help prepare you for your first jobs.

4. Don’t worry too much about your major. Really. Just take the classes you enjoy.

5. Spend the time to develop a strong relationship with at least

one professor you admire. You’re surrounded by incredibly brilliant academics who can do more than teach you—they can mentor you.


Go to a football game. That’s meant to be a quintessential college experience, right?

7. Take an English course taught by William Veeder. He’s that 8. Experience the O-Week parade as a fourth year. Set up chairs, bring some friends, be NICE to the first years, and relish how far you’ve come.

9. Play tequila kickball—maybe or maybe not on the quad? Who can say.

10. Make one of the underappreciated coffee shops your own— possibly one at the GSB. They have a sick set-up over there.

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R E N E W.


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MODA Summer 2013


We’ve all heard of the LBD (little black dress for those of you that haven’t...), but the LWD is not getting its fair share of attention. The LWD has the power to transform any track of life into one that feels refreshed, revamped, and renewed.

Styled by Maura Connors and Lukun Zhang Modeled by Ariella Hartman Photographed by Michael Gandy Makeup by Ariella Hartman White dresses from Akira. Accessories are stylist’s own.


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MODA Summer 2013

MODA Summer 2013


Summer of ‘59

With Summer around the corner, we are bringing you back to 1959 for some fun under the sun. Styled by Ivy Zhang Modeled by Lucie Fama and Nadia Habibie Photographed by Alison Titus Makeup by Lucie Fama Clothing Credits: Swimwear from Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Skirts from unique thrift store.


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MODA Summer 2013



Brighten up summer with a bright red lip ready for any adventure under the sun.


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PROPERTY OF PILSEN. Doused in Denim in one of Chicago’s cultural hotspots. Styled by Rebecca Liu Modeled by Jade Goodwin-Carter Photographed by Ivy Zhang Makeup by Jade Goodwin-Carter


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MODA Summer 2013





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White lace top from Topshop, Denim vest and shorts from Unique Thrift Shop. Heels from Zara.

SUMMER FLING: Denim overalls from


Unique Thrift Shop. Pink bandeau

from VS, Jewelry is stylists own. MODA Summer 2013

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MODA Summer 2013


(Left) Wolf top from forever21, denim shorts and jacket from Unique Thrift Shop, bracelet from Topshop, sunglasses are models own, earrings are stylists own. (Right) Top from Topshop, maxi skirt is stylists own, jean jacket from Unique Thrift Shop, jewelry is stylists own.

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MODA Magazine: Summer 2013  

The student-run MODA magazine is a fashion and design showcase for the University of Chicago community that features original photography an...