i was fortunate enough to be able to interview the lovely carol calacci, the managing editor of blog and online fashion mag second city style, to talk to her a little bit what it's like to work in the fashion biz. she's a true delight, and has had the opportunity to meet lots of fabulous people and to have some amazing industry experiences.
Style in the City: Talking Fashion with Second City Style’s Carol Calacci
A School of the Art Institute Chicago alumna, Carol Calacci is no stranger the Chicago arts scene - and as Managing Editor of the online luxury fashion magazine and blog, Second City Style, Calacci proves to be a reputable authority on all things Chicago chic. Having initially thrust her creativity into clothing design, Calacci has since shifted her talents into a journalistic sphere. A freelance graphic designer, blogger, fashion scenester, and editor of a luxury news source, Calacci is at the top of her career, and at the forefront of the Chicago fashion world. Ambitious to the extreme, Calacci believes wholeheartedly in the Chicago fashion industry, lauding local boutiques and giving Chicago its due place in the big, stylish picture that is Second City Style.
Sassafras: When did you start to become interested in the fashion industry, and what sparked your interest?
Carol Calacci: I always loved fashion - ever since I was a child. I remember looking in my parent's Life magazines at art, sculpture and mod fashions. I wanted to look like Twiggy!
S: You used to design a leather line. Can you talk a little bit about that? Who did you sell to, market to, how did it develop, etc? Do you still feel a calling to fashion design?
CC: Yes, my degree is in graphic design, and after graduating I studied accessory design at The School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC). There I received a wealth of information on where to find materials in Chicago, how to approach boutiques and how to design well-constructed, wearable accessories. I had a thing for leather. We made handbags out of leather and I used to get old coats from Salvation Army and reconstruct them into skirts and pants. Several years later I was inspired by a Tom Ford for Gucci leather halter that was in a Vogue September Issue. I began constructing variations of lamb leather tops using metallic leathers, ribbons, and, of course, a lot of black. I cold-called some Chicago boutiques that I loved and [luxury Chicago boutique owner] June Blaker gave me great advice. After that, [my pieces] landed at Toshira - my absolute favorite boutique! So that was quite a thrill. Then, as I was traveling on a vacation to L.A. for a long weekend, I looked at a Lucky magazine featuring L.A. and called several boutiques. I made some appointments and managed to sell out in L.A. as well. Being a designer helps me to understand fashion designers when I interview them - I understand the construction and what it takes to produce pieces.
S: After having been so successful with design, what motivated your foray into becoming the Managing Editor for Second City Style (SCS)? How do you merge all of your experiences in the industry?
CC: It was actually because of Lauren Dimet-Waters [SCS Editor-in-Chief], who I met in a Networking group. She was in technology, and I worked with her and we became friends. We talked a lot about fashion, restaurants and automobiles…but mostly fashion. I knew she wanted to start her own business, so I approached her and said, "Did you ever think about doing a website?” I showed her fashion topics and she said, "Yes, I’ve always wanted to do a website exactly like this!" I had no intention of starting another business - but the passion for fashion led me in, and Lauren's know-how with technology is what really made it grow.
S: Being a key part of SCS, there are lots of things you get to do, and people you get to meet. What have been some of your most exciting, memorable moments?
CC: Memorable moments are meeting the rock stars of the business - the designers! I’ve met and interviewed Brian Reyes, Rachel Roy, Christin Siriano, and Alexis Bitar - the jewelry designer. I was interviewing him in a back room at Nordstrom and he got a text message that he volunteered to tell me about. It was Grace Coddington [US Vogue’s creative director] asking him if he could do a piece for Vogue. "Something with a bow, or something - for a jumpsuits shoot." Then 3 months later I get the Vogue, featuring jumpsuits on the cover and with the tuxedo bow jewelry he designed! That was one of my most memorable moments. To have be at the inception, and then to see the end result.
S: What's your favorite part about your job at Second City Style? How have you seen the business develop since you and Lauren started it in 2005?
CC: My favorite part is working with wonderful writers, and sharing a passion for fashion and design with the many people I encounter. Going to N.Y. Fashion Week is a highlight - knowing what's new and current and predicting what people will wear is gratifying.
S: Who are your favorite designers/influences in the fashion industry? How have they influenced your work?
CC: Well, Tom Ford for Gucci - you got that leather halter story already! Lately, I’ve been really liking Lanvin. I loved Donna Karen's Spring 2010 – which was surprising, because I usually like collections that are more avant garde. I like Costello Tagliapietra, Angel Sanchez - designers who make walking sculptures, as I like to think of it. They influence me with their modern, luxurious and artistic approaches to fashion.
S: How do you feel the industry is changing? Online journalism is definitely where journalism seems to be going - what do you feel are the benefits of running an online company?
CC: At SCS, we began feeling like "little bloggers,” and now we’ve almost too many PR companies and designers publicists knocking at our door! I think they really see the importance of online information and the large fashion audience that they can hit with SCS.
S: As the industry is continually changing, what are your goals for SCS? What niche market does Second City Style fill?
CC: We started with women’s fashion and accessories, saying "We don't do bridal, children's or men's!" Like, "we don't do windows." But then we added beauty, a huge animal, a few years ago. I do get a lot of requests for men's fashions, so I think that may be the next area that we tackle. It may be a long way off, but we like to keep the subject matter tight. That’s our advantage.
photo credit: secondcitystyle.com