Spring style file: 3 designers’ must-haves

By / Style & Beauty / March 22, 2018

3 Chicago-based fashion designers call out the people, places and products that keep them chic

Designer: Azeeza Khan | Label: Azeeza 

Azeeza Kahn, 34, has evolved her namesake label from over-the-top beaded gowns to a wide-ranging collection for the fashion-forward. Azeeza.us and Barneys.com

Clockwise from top left: Naomi Campbell, @aureta, Hanes X Karla T-shirt, Dua Lipa, Dr. Few Beauty Vitamin C serum, Dior Addict Lip Glow in 001, artwork by Curtis Kulig, KNC lip mask, RL restaurant

Her style icons: ’90s supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell

Her playlist: Dua Lipa’s voice is so fresh; her style even more. And there’s this new radio station, 104.3 JAMS, that plays classic hip-hop — it’s everything. 

Her space: I never took the time to focus on my showroom, since I was busy with a startup and very limited on funds, so I’m now finally able to carry out my interior vision. I’m working with local marble manufacturer GI Stone to overhaul my showroom — I’m designing custom marble furniture for an uncluttered, minimal ambience.

Her favorite former trend: The ’90s’ plucked arched eyebrows. My eyebrows are naturally super thin and currently it’s all about the bold eyebrow, so I am having major FOMO.

Azeeza Mini Thistle silk shantung dress, $895

Her apothecary: I really focus on skin so that I don’t need to rely on makeup. Dr. Julius Few’s products have turned my skin around, especially the Vitamin C serum ($120) and retinol cream ($99). I do KNC lip masks ($24.99) one or two times a week to ensure a plump pout. With this routine, a swipe of mascara, Glossier Boy Brow ($16) in clear and Dior Addict Lip Glow 001 ($34), and I’m good to go.

Her Chicago: Freds at Barneys (15 E. Oak) and RL (115 E. Chicago) for food and people watching — and it’s very nice to have my favorite from LA come to Chicago with Katana (339 N. Dearborn).

Her closet: For day-to-day T-shirts, I go to Target’s house brand because I run through so many; I’ve also stocked up on the Hanes x Karla ones ($30). RE/DONE high-rise jeans are my favorite, although you have to try on a million to find the best fit since they are reworked vintage. From my own collection, my volume mini-dresses (pictured on Kahn in cobalt, $795) in my signature blood red, black or white. I love wearing white. And I always carry a heather gray American Apparel hoodie ($28) — I’m always cold.

Her footwear: Off-White for Nike — I’m very proud that designer Virgil Abloh is a Chicagoan. I’m beyond excited for Off-White c/o Jimmy Choo to pair with my evening looks, even though I am traditionally a Manolo girl.

Her favorite artists: I have pieces in my home contemporary artists like Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Kaws and Curtis Kulig and emerging/non-conventional artists like Donald Robertson. The color palettes are very relevant for my work, and their not-so-seriousness really adds a daily reminder of youth.

Her travel itinerary: Turks and Caicos for the clear waters and farm-to-table cuisine

Her spring wish list: Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga or Yeezy “dad” sneakers

Her Instagram feed: Museum of Contemporary Art (@MCAChicago), Aureta Thomollari (@aureta)

Designer: Daryl Sneed | Label: ricorso

Daryl Sneed, 48, is reinventing his women’s label, ricorso, this year, unveiling one standalone piece per month.

Clockwise from top left: Proxi, HUDSON jeans, London, Idris Elba, Cowboys and Astronauts, HUF low-tops, Audrey Hepburn, Rugged & Dapper Age Defense Eye Complex, Port Products Conditioning Beard Absolute, Anthony facial serum

His Chicago: Proxi (565 W. Randolph), Band of Bohemia (4710 N. Ravenswood) and Soho House (113 N. Green); Bucktown/Wicker Park and Andersonville, especially Cowboys and Astronauts (1478 W. Summerdale), for shopping

Coming in April: ricorso Sinclair Dress, $820

His fashion no-nos: Jeans belted around the thighs and anything related to the ’80s

His favorite artist: I became an even greater fan of Takashi Murakami after his exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. His techniques, colors and motifs are so intertwined in a style that allows the viewer to truly escape into the art.

His style icons: Personally, Idris Elba. Whether casual or formal, he takes simple style techniques of layering and tonal colors and creates a signature. For designing ricorso, Audrey Hepburn and Michelle Obama — they exemplify how individual style can create a lasting and empowering projection of who you are.

His footwear: Low- and high-tops — Converse, Vans and HUF

His Instagram feed: Chanel (@chanelofficial), The Idle Man (@idle), Public School (@publicschoolnyc)

His playlist: Modern-day musicians: Lady Gaga, Lalah Hathaway and Esperanza Spalding. Always: Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan

His closet: Bow ties (The Tie Bar, $19) — I have at least 30 — a Uniqlo navy knit blazer ($59.90; Uniqlo.com), custom plum velvet tuxedo jacket and split-collar shirts and HUDSON jeans

His apothecary: Port Products Conditioning Beard Absolute ($20), Anthony Vitamin C facial serum ($46) and Rugged & Dapper Age Defense Eye Complex ($24.95)

His most treasured possession: For my 40th birthday, 25 friends got together and bought me the Hermès “H” belt. Every time I wear it, it’s a reminder of the wonderful friendships and great times we’ve had over the years.

His travel itinerary: London for its equal blend of heritage and modern elements

Designer: Christina Monley | Label: Christina Karin

Launched in 2012 by Christina Monley, 34, Wicker Park-based Christina Karin features structured basics with a chic downtown vibe. Christinakarin.com

Clockwise from left: South Loop loft, Bellemore, Tina Turner, Gucci loafers, The Rolling Stones, Glossier Cloud Paint, Dr. Hauschka Rose day cream, LOEWE bag, @drawbertson

Her style icon: Tina Turner for her rebellious style and fearless attitude

Her apothecary: I love trying many different products, but right now it’s Dr. Hauschka, Drunk Elephant, Glossier and Bioderma.

Her spring wish list: White heels

Christina Karin Vespry suede and leather vest, $395

Her playlist: I’m really eclectic. One day it’s jazz or opera, the next it’s Flight Facilities’ “Arty Boy” or The Rolling Stones.

Her trend prediction: I never thought matching track suits would be back in, but here I am designing my new favorite pair.

Her travel itinerary: I travel a lot for work to LA and NYC and love both for their energy, but my absolute favorite is Nantucket.

Her most treasured possession: A heart-shaped jade stone from my Ukrainian grandmother — it protects my family and is sacred to me.

Her bag: I love my big LOEWE bag because it fits so much — but when I don’t have my kids in tow, it’s usually a Chanel filled with a lipstick, hair tie and sunglasses.

Her Chicago: South Loop Loft (685 N. Milwaukee) for art, Bellemore (564 W. Randolph) for dining ambience

Her favorite artists: My dad is an art collector and I grew up around all kinds of art, so it’s hard to pick one. I particularly love Amedeo Modigliani and Cy Twombly, as well as classic French artists like Pierre Bonnard and Chaim Soutine.

Her Instagram feed: Alexa Chung (@alexachung), COVETEUR (@coveteur), CR Fashion Book (@crfashionbook), Donald Robertson (@drawbertson), Vogue Italia (@vogueitalia)

Her footwear: Gucci loafers, Tamara Mellon boots or lesser-known European brands like Pollini (pictured) or Robert Clergerie. I like strong design components.

Her style: I used to have ample time to get my look together, but now I’m a mom, businesswoman, designer and wife, so I have to be really focused. In a way, I think motherhood has improved my style, because I don’t have time to overdo it.

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