The February runway extravaganzas showcasing Fall fashion have come and gone already. But the Chicago Humanities Festival is just beginning to rev up for its very first Spring festival, during which it will explore the many manifestations of “Style” in 20 events to be presented between April 28 and May 1.
Among the featured speakers will be: Journalist and entrepreneur Arianna Huffington; Alicia Garza (one of the co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter); actress Mary-Louise Parker; Iris Apfel (the 94-year-old fashion and design icon); photographer Sally Mann; Karl Ove Knausgaard (author of the six-volume autobiographical novel, “My Struggle”); actor George Wendt; Pulitzer Prize winner Robin Givhan of the Washington Post (the first fashion writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism); Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall (co-editors of “The Breakbeat Poets” colletion); Liz Jackson (the inclusive retail and disability advocate); Elizabeth Cline of the Art Institute of Chicago (author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion”); and such noted fashion designers as Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Maria Pinto, and Rachel Roy.
Also part of the festival (on Sunday, May 1) will be three National Book Award winners including Robin Coste Lewis (winner of the 2015 poetry prize for her collection “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” James McBride, winner of the 2014 prize in fiction, whose new biography of James Brown is title “Kill ‘em and Leave,” and Andrew Solomon, winner of the 2001 prize for nonfiction, whose latest book is “Far and Away.” A panel on responses to the hijab (including Asra Nomani, journalist and author of “Standing Alone,” and Hoda Katebi, activist and author of “Tehran Street Style”) is set for April 30.
According to the Festival’s producers, all these presenters have been brought together to “tell the world that style possesses more power than the ability to turn heads [and] is not merely what’s hot and what’s not. It is the lens which designers, photographers, and artists use to project their vision of and onto the world. Style governs where writers break a line, how activists present and represent a movement, how we dance to the records, and which ones we spin over and over and over.”
As Alison Cuddy, associate artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival put it in a prepared statement: “Style is a space where race, gender, art, and politics intersect, and the line-up we’ve curated for the city this spring will go a long way towards highlighting that style matters.”
Among the Spring Festival’s inaugural year venues will be a couple of style icons all their own – the elegant Chicago Athletic Association to the newly re-opened Studebaker Theatre.
Tickets go on sale to Festival members on March 1 and to the general public on March 3. They can be purchased at chicagohumanities.org or by calling the CHF box office at (312) 493-9509. To learn more about a CHF membership, visit supportchf.org.