The student body of the University of Chicago isn’t exactly known for its impeccable style, but there is a group on campus that’s been trying to change that. Since 2003, MODA has been working to promote fashion throughout the University’s student body.
One of MODA’s main events is its fashion show, where it showcases the designs of students, local boutiques, and larger designers. Past shows have taken place exclusively on campus, but this year is different, as it will be held downtown at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Fourth-year and executive director Sarah Jahnke said, “Our shows have become really popular and successful, so instead of bringing downtown to campus, we wanted to bring campus to downtown.”
MODA wants this year’s show to be an evening-long experience, complete with dinner and drinks afterwards. In addition to hosting the show downtown, two new features are pre-show dinner promotions and an after-party.
“We really want this to be an outing, as opposed to just going downtown for the fashion show,” said Ariya Sasaki, fourth-year and artistic director.
For dinner before the show, MODA has secured promotional offers for two different restaurants downtown, Lockwood Restaurant and Hub 51. Lockwood is a Top 10 ranked restaurant in Chicago, where fashion show attendees will receive 15 percent off. Hub 51 will also be offering a deal of a 10 percent discount.
“This will be a chance for students to experience upper-class dining at a lesser price,” Jahnke said.
The after-party will take place at The Underground, a nightclub in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Show attendees who are 21 and older will receive complimentary access to the club. For students who are unable to attend the after-party, MODA will be providing two buses for students to travel to the fashion show and back to Hyde Park afterwards.
“We want people to get out of Hyde Park and go downtown. We’re so close, but I feel people don’t really take advantage of the city,” Sasaki said.
MODA is expecting at least 300 students to attend the show this year, and about 200 other guests, many of whom are part of the Chicago fashion industry. The show will include looks from top fashion designers such as Ann Taylor, AKIRA, and Imaginary People, but it will also feature five student designers from MODA’S Designer Bootcamp.
Bootcamp is a yearlong extracurricular for students at the University of Chicago to learn about fashion and the fashion industry. The program is expanding, with the number of applications for five spots reaching upwards of 26 this year.
“It’s bigger than ever. The applicant pool has gotten a lot bigger,” said Allison Wu, fourth-year and director of Designer Bootcamp, who will also be closing MODA’S fashion show on Friday with her designs.
In addition to revamping the fashion show, MODA has expanded its board and made changes to its magazine. The board expanded from about seven people to over 20. In previous years, MODA has published only one magazine every year, showcasing spring styles. However, this proved to be a problem for the models and photographers who were trying to shoot spring looks with snow on the ground.
“This year we tried to embrace the winter season and accommodate winter in the winter/spring lookbook,” said Emilia Mickevicius, fourth-year and co-editor-in-chief for the magazine.
Instead of publishing one large magazine, MODA will be publishing two lookbooks—one showcasing winter/spring styles and another showcasing spring/summer styles.
The launch party for the new winter/spring lookbook is the fashion show this Friday, while the spring/summer lookbook will be released in May. The lookbooks will also feature articles dealing with the more intellectual side of fashion and smaller photoshoots in addition to larger photoshoot spreads. Instead of standard magazine size, the lookbooks will be six-by-nine inches.
“Basically, they are more intimate in scale this year, better in quality, and more artistic in nature,” Mickevicius said.