Fashion Forward in Milwaukee

Kohl's Design It! Labs and Discovery World tag teamed with Mount Mary College for an event that offered local fashion artists a chance to unveil their forward-looking work.

By - May 22nd, 2013 04:00 am

There’s an innovative cultural force in Milwaukee these days, swelling like a wave along the lakefront. It’s making things happen in this urban community, led by entrepreneurs including Flux Design, the design and construction firm behind DIY Network TV show Made in Milwaukee and Third Ward-based Translator, an idea-incubator and think tank.

It’s not just the small entrepreneurs swimming in this school of thought, though. There’s clear support among the most established of local businesses for bold start-ups forging this new Milwaukee.

Take Kohl’s Design It! Labs and Discovery World. They partnered with Mount Mary College’s fashion department last Friday, May 17, for a Fashion Forward event at the latter’s space. The event, designed for the fashion-faithful 21 and up, was an invitation to “inspire our fashion culture to continually interact,” and a prime opportunity to foster local artistic expression and excellence while raising the city’s style acumen.


Fashion Forward presented by Kohl’s Design It! Lab and Discovery World.

Discovery World’s aquariums, incorporated into the white and glass building, were an aesthetically stimulating backdrop for the venue, which was transformed into a collection of design-themed segments. “Fashion+Aquatics,” for example, which featured the Third Ward salon The Shoppe, created eccentric hairdos for guests. “Fashion+Sustainability” featured sustainability-driven artisan, Timothy Westbrook, and his live model fashion show.


Many of these Fashion Forward labs presented new ways to incorporate elements of the natural world into the color, texture, material and design of clothing. At “Fashion+Biological Dissection,” guests in the lower-level Reiman Aquarium made “im-print-pressions” with freshwater and saltwater specimens on apparel. Integrating environmental architecture and human physicality, “Fashion+Human Body & Architecture” displayed the symbiotic relationship of man (& women) to the environment through the basic need for clothing.

Not to be left out of the big pond of chic trends, “Fashion+The Future” shone the spotlight on budding designers from Pius XI High School. Among the students honored was Redat Davison, who recently won the prestigious Presidential Scholar Award, given to less than 150 students nationwide. She’ll be recognized by President Obama this summer for the award, before beginning her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design in the fall. Her designs have a great deal of recognition already as well – some of her original pieces are on display at the Smithsonian.


The Fashion Forward event is a perfect example of the new, nurturing environment of local artisans, boutiques, and businesses in support of Milwaukee’s growing corps of thinkers and doers. If you missed the event, not to worry. Summer is the perfect season to show off your own creative style and experiment with your own version of personal branding. What will you wear?

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