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Meet 21 Creative Women of Chicago

From stylists & designers to photographers, filmakers and DJs, these amazing women are shaping Chicago’s ever expanding creative scene

Lauren Fern

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Lauren is wearing the Eugene Taylor silver v-neck shoulder dress | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Lauren Fern, or better known by her social media moniker, “Unfabulous Elle” is one of the youngest, but brightest style mavens to come out of Chicago in recent years. Her everyday style never bores; she’s always put together a la Audrey Hepburn, but with an unapologetic millennial edge that embraces whimsical colors, patterns and textures. Sometimes she professionally styles, sometimes she’s producing shoots and sometimes she’s the model herself—no matter what role she’s inheriting, she does what she’s asked to do—does it well and always while being the best dressed in the room.

What do you do?
I tell stories through clothes. Whether it’s producing an editorial, styling, getting dressed in the morning, or putting together an event. I love using clothes to tell a story.

Who or what inspires you?
Daydreaming, researching, learning more. Through that I generate different obsessions. they are always different—before it has been anything from rockstar groupies, Cuban living and culture, to Barbie dolls- and right now its farm life and fairytales. These obsessions and the research I put into them generate inspiration and ideas.

Why do you choose to create?
Because it keeps me from going crazy.

Why Chicago?
It’s my kinda town

Whats next?
Learning french—I am envisioning Paris in my future.

Follow Lauren Fern on IG @unfabulous_elle

Maya Iman

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Maya is wearing the Eugene Taylor metallic jumpsuit | Photo by Clyde Munroe

While most young creatives takes years of mistakes and mishaps along the road to perfecting their craft, Chicago art director and photographer Maya Iman, has known her visual aesthetic since the very beginning. Her work encompasses the use of clean lines, muted colors—and always—a diverse makeup of models in front of the camera. She hopes to continue to push the boundaries for diversity in the art world through her work as she grows as a creative.

What do you do?
I’m an art director and photographer.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m always gaining new inspiration from everything around me.

Why do you choose to create?
To innovate

Why Chicago?
It’s home. I see a lot of growth and beauty here.

What’s next?
Work hard and keep growing.

Follow Maya Iman on IG @mayaiman
mayaiman.com

Nina Cowens

Nina is wearing the Eugene Taylor sharkskin grey joggers | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Nina is wearing the Eugene Taylor sharkskin grey joggers | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Makeup artists paint famous faces daily, but it’s a select and talented few whose beautiful work is instantly recognizable upon first glance. Nina Cowens is the makeup brains behind almost every exciting fashion and beauty editorial that’s been produced in Chicago in the past few years—her work always being bold yet refined, bright and effervescent. The proud Boricua’s personal style echoes her beauty handiwork—never shying away from untraditional colors, cuts or patterns that play up her bubbly personality.

What do you do?
I’m a makeup artist. I work with other artists in the fashion industry to create beautiful images. I also have personal clients that I glam up for special events.

What inspires you?
Femininity, fantasy, nature

Why do you choose to create?
It never really seemed to be a choice. I’m a Pisces and we’re very imaginative. I’ve always been creating, designing/making clothes, drawing, painting… I even use to write songs before and I can’t even sing or play any instruments. It’s just therapy for me.

Why Chicago?
I was born and raised here! I remember hating the neighborhood I grew up in because it was pretty violent and I couldn’t wait to get out. Now I appreciate it and this city for the thick skin, realness, and drive it gave me. Chicago has my heart.

What’s next?
Keep bringing beauty in the world.

Follow Nina Cowens on IG @ninaboomboom

Falyn Huang

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Falyn is wearing the Eugene Taylor alined bellbottoms | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Falyn Huang is one of the most boundary pushing creatives in Chicago. The dual photographer and makeup artist creates visual work that has a life it’s own that lives beyond the digital screens and pages it’s published in. As she continues to blend the lines between fashion, beauty and portraiture within her work, it’s safe to say that Huang will never create a boring visual.

What do you do?
I am a photographer and makeup artist. I was a painter before… that’s what I got into college for actually.  When I’m in the shower, alone, with no one in the house… I’m the best singer. I swear.

Who or what inspires you?
People and beauty inspire me. A lot. I love observing people and dissecting the psychology of how things work socially. Even if I don’t understand it entirely. I’m fascinated by the relationship of human interaction and the many levels of perceived “reality”.  I also admire intrinsic beauty and how it challenges society’s definition of what beauty is and what it means. People who have true patience and those who can embrace suffering without falling apart and still have the ability to exuberate so much laughter, compassion, wisdom, and love is also something that’s extremely powerful to me.

Why do you choose to create?
I believe in grey; everything leading up to the final result isn’t just black or white. However, reality is in fact black and white. And that’s something I have to challenge. I think a lot of people are misunderstood, and I definitely have been on both sides of being a victim of misunderstanding/miscommunication as well as being guilty for misunderstanding/miscommunication. I actually struggle with social anxiety and try to understand it while overcoming it right then and there, although it’s different in every social setting. But photography forces me to challenge my insecurities as well as push the boundaries of what I find to be true.

Why Chicago?
Chicago has been gaining a lot of heat in the music and art scene. However fashion has not quite reached where it can be. With so many bright minds and talented young designers that are dedicated in nurturing the progressive culture in the fashion scene, I want to be a part of the forefront of that growth because I’m a photographer who loves and respects fashion.

What’s next?
I have a few project and collaborations coming up before the end of 2016 with Eugene Taylor, Frisque Business, Austin Vesely that I’m super stoked about.  After these projects are done, and starting the new year…  I’m actually thinking about New York, Hong Kong… or back to my motherland, Taiwan, to soak in some self culture and rediscovery. I love Chicago and want to stay… but sometimes you have to fly away for a bit just so you can come home.

Follow Falyn Huang on IG @falynhuang
falynhuang.com

Rachel Dafforn

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Rachel is wearing the Eugene Taylor navy set | Photo by Clyde Munroe

Rachel Dafforn is one of the newest and most exciting up and coming fashion designers currently in Chicago. Her designs echo her headspace—her thoughts, feelings and emotions that make up her day to life and though the inspiration behind her clothing may be somewhat vulnerable, her personal style is anything but. You can catch Dafforn around town confidently rocking staple pieces with a modern edge—like camel trenches with black mesh tops, bandana chokers and white sneakers—and of course—Eugene Taylor Brand.

What do you do?
I design ready-to-wear clothing for women that want easy and unique garments with hand done embellishments that often are not found in the fast fashion world today. I like to say it’s 70% streetwear and 30% high end.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by thoughts and feelings and common emotions that people can connect and relate to. Creating garments is my way of journaling or talking through my feelings, it’s just my process of getting through anything that I have going on in my life.

Why do you choose to create?
Because sitting at a desk job my entire life would be an incredibly boring life to me.

Why Chicago?
I’ve felt a lot of pressure to move to New York since applying to colleges but it’s never felt right to me. No one expects anything from Chicago, regarding fashion. The fashion industry here is minuscule compared to New York, but New York already has such a voice in fashion. It’s time for people to hear the voices of Chicago fashion designers because there are a lot of us here and we have a lot to say.

What’s next?
I’m young, and I think I need to remind myself a lot that its ok not to know what’s next. I’m open to all opportunities and I’m going to take whatever feels right, but I know I will always be creating no matter what.

Follow Rachel on IG @rachel.dafforn

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