Marketing & Communications: SAIC Transforms Garfield Park Conservatory From Flora To Fashion For New Exhibition

CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a global leader in art and design education, is transforming the Garfield Park Conservatory from flora to fashion in the first exhibition of its kind showcasing the work of the School’s internationally renowned Fashion Design students. The exhibition is free and open to the public and runs from May 13–15. Attendees will enjoy a front-row look into the world of avant-garde fashion, as they get up close to the embellishments, embroidery and expertly crafted fashion designs that will be exhibited throughout the gardens.

For more than 80 years, SAIC’s Fashion Design department has publicly showcased its students’ collections each spring. Evolving from concept to creation in just two semesters, 230 innovative looks pushing the traditional boundaries of style will be on display, created by 96 sophomores, juniors and seniors. SAIC’s Fashion Design program boasts distinguished alumni, including Halston, Cynthia Rowley, Maria Pinto, Gary Graham and Creatures of the Wind.

This year’s concept, Reflexion, is inspired by the Garfield Park Conservatory’s beautiful botanical setting, and seeks to evoke a personal and global reflection about both concept and material use. Among other themes, Reflexion will explore the future of fashion in a sustainable world.

“The School of the Art Institute of Chicago plays a critical role in shaping the fashion legacy that exists in our city and in the Midwest today,” said Anke Loh, Sage Foundation Chair of SAIC’s Fashion Design department. “Away from the fashion epicenters of the world, we have the freedom to explore and innovate without limits, and this flexibility is evident in the designs produced by our talented students, many of whom will go on to influence the industry with their work.”

SAIC’s Fashion exhibition will take place throughout the Garfield Park Conservatory’s lush gardens, 300 North Central Park Avenue. As part of the exhibition, SAIC is hosting a runway show for invited guests to see work from senior students in a professionally produced fashion event. During the runway show, the RumChata Foundation will present one Master of Design graduate student who is over the age of 21 with a $20,000 fellowship to continue their fashion design work beyond their graduate studies at SAIC. This will be the first ever post-graduate fellowship presented by the department, and in the spirit of the RumChata Foundation will celebrate the passion and drive it takes to create and bring to life an idea that started from one’s imagination and vision.

About SAIC’s Fashion Department

SAIC’s Fashion Design program provides a creative and intellectual context that closely examines and reimagines the nature and potential of fashion. Since 1934, SAIC has been educating new generations of fashion designers who have gone on to produce some of the most inspired and respected collections around the globe. Students set groundbreaking trends as they are encouraged to fiercely respond to international influences, discovering and exploring new concepts and materials. Uniquely situated within a vibrant contemporary school of art and design, SAIC’s Fashion Department offers undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate programs that build on the relationships between art and fashion that have been evolving over the past century to reach an unprecedented level of connection in contemporary practice today.

SAIC’s Fashion program is housed within the Sage Studios for Fashion Design located in the historic Carson Pirie Scott building. The 25,000-square-foot studio space includes the Fashion Resource Center, a hands-on collection of late-20th- and 21st-century designer garments and accessories representing extreme innovation, which enables SAIC students to explore the most progressive achievements in the world of dress and fashion.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top three graduate fine arts programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through such notable alumni and faculty as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Nick Cave and LeRoy Neiman. For more information, please visit

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