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By Suze Solari
One hundred fashion designers entered the Apparel Industry Board's competition for to be included in the Made in Chicago Holiday Store opening soon on Michigan Avenue. Among the 20 designers chosen was Oak Park's very own Takara Beathea, proprietor of three fashion shops in Downtown Oak Park.
This was the first time Beathea entered her apparel line into the local AIBI competition. In a blind judging of 100 entrants, she was selected to sell her collection at the Shops at North Bridge Mall on Michigan Avenue from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.
Beathea's Oak Park shop, Takara, has changed the landscape of local fashion by bringing her thoughtful, layered look to Marion Street: a multicultural approach, derived from her West Indies heritage, with European influences. A self-taught designer, she first gained attention in the fashion industry with an ensemble of ethnically inspired accessories and jewelry, made from natural materials.
While selling her jewelry to major department stores like Nordstrom, I. Magnum and Marshall Field, she found her apparel niche by designing and producing the Takara top. Still available today, the top launched her career as an apparel designer, leading her to open shops in Chicago and Oak Park on Harrison Street. Her mini-empire now comprises of three luxe shops on Marion Street, including Croix — owned in partnership with her daughter, Miya — and Soko, a shoe boutique.
She is an inventor, and her vision is clear in the current collection chosen for the upcoming Made in Chicago store. "Architectural" is the word she uses to explain this collection of blouses, skirts, pants, jackets and capes.
A total of 27 garments will be featured in the temporary shop. Each piece is made by a team of skilled seamstresses in the Takara studio on Lake Street in Oak Park. There is a 'Grace Jones' skirt, a daring JuJu Jacket and Judy Jumper. The edgy Bella and Martha jackets can be worn upside-down for a completely different look. A few of the items can also be found in her shop, but most were newly created for the Chicago show. All of her pieces have a female moniker, named for her friends and muses.
Inspired by a recent trip to Spain is the Triangle pant — an amazing pair of billowy pants that look like a maxi-skirt.
"These are event pieces," she says, "but can be worn every day." I donned what she called a vest with a beautiful, asymmetrical shawl quality and then belted it with an obi.
To participate in the Apparel Industry Board, Inc. presentation this holiday season, designers were required to take a series of classes as well as scrutiny from the international market. This has taken Beathea out of her comfort zone. But soon enough, the whole of Chicago will be let in on our little local secret.
Read Suze Solari's blog at OakPark.com/Shopping/Blogs