photo: Brendan Lester
These Chicago locals take nightlife fashion to new heights.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 04.08.10
Certain looks dominate the nightlife scene: The hard house clubs downtown favor Ed Hardy, Affliction and overly ornate denim; the PBR-heavy hot spots in Wicker Park and Pilsen prefer deep V-necks, flannel, Levi’s and Chucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but such clubgoer uniforms aren’t exactly fashion innovation either. For our Spring Fashion Issue, we uncovered a few trendsetters elevating the city’s nightlife fashion.
photo: Clayton Hauck
If you’re out in River North, odds are Matt Roan is the DJ inciting you to dance till your feet go numb: You can find him at JBar, Sub 51 or Underground on the regular. But the poster child for the Crossfader King DJ crew hasn’t always sported the coiffed-hair-vintage-eyeglasses-sharkskin-suit look you’ve seen behind the decks. There was a time when he fell in line with hipster fashions more than he challenged them, rocking the flat-brim ball caps and trucker ’stashes that have become de rigueur with the indie club crowd. “Being downtown, I felt like I was tricking people in the clubs by showing up and looking like a punk-rock dude,” Roan explains. A trip to London, Paris and Milan in the winter of ’08 inspired his more tailored, high-end change for the better. Now club owners look at Roan a little differently: “When you see me and I fit your brand, I’m a shoo-in to play your next party.”
Olivia Shanks and Telo Dunne caught the fashion bug in ’95, freaking their own threads to show off at raves—which is where they met. “I thought Telo’s fat pants and mesh adidas tank top were to die for,” Shanks says of their first encounter on a warehouse dance floor. Now when the two aren’t slinging drinks at Debonair Social Club, they’re hard at work on their Imaginary People clothing line, which recently debuted its second collection ($70–$400). Focusing on signature pieces that include T-shirts ($70), wrap sweaters ($150) and leggings ($99), the line is all about arty, everyday streetwear for women. “We are definitely influenced by couture style,” Dunne says, “but we love things more when we see the different ways people wear them out.” While the debut collection kept to a grayscale color palette for the fall season, the ladies have brightened things up for spring, adding new patterns and loads of color. See imaginarypeopleonline.com.
To read our full interview with Imaginary People's Telo Dunne and Olivia Shanks go here: TOC | Imaginary People
photo: Justin Gill
Some make a point of looking good behind the decks, behind the bar or on the dance floor. Promoter CT Hedden and pervasive Chicago DJ Zebo have successfully combined all three with their fashion-forward, polysexual, Studio 54–channelling Glitter nights at Le Passage. “Our goal is to combine high-end fashion with a new nightlife scene,” Hedden says. “We bring together socialites, hipsters, models and trannies all in the same night.” Moving beyond mere party throwing, the duo schedules fashion and drag shows early, leaving the models to mingle with the crowd or show off their goods in cages and confetti-filled bathtubs. “Our vibe is self-expression,” Zebo says. “Glitter is for anyone and everyone who wants an unrivaled club experience in the city.” If every night ends with fake snow tossed around by a mob of sweaty disco dancers—as the last one did—then these guys can consider their mission accomplished. Glitter happens every third Thursday at Le Passage.