SAIC Fashion Show April 19

Models wearing clothes designed by Eliza Angell strut down the runway. (Ruthie Kott/for RedEye / April 20, 2012)

This year is Nick Cave's last as chair of the School of the Art Institute Fashion Show. As part of the school's fashion-design faculty, he spent the past seven years mentoring sophomore, junior, and senior design students to create garments that reflect a particular point of view. And he doesn't make it easy for them.

"We've got to give them a bit of the rigorous behaviors that exist in the world of fashion and design, " Cave said. "You have to be able to work at a particular level. You've got to be able to handle the stress."

The 2012 show, which took place April 19 in Millennium Park, featured 112 young designers, showing to packed houses four times throughout the day. Running 59 minutes each, the shows moved quickly, featuring an array of fashion from facemasks to voluminous dresses, neon yellow pumps to black, glittery tights, and no fashion statement was left unmade.

Cave, an artist as well as a designer, notes that the show is unlike any other in the city. The fashion program, he pointed out, is housed within an art school.

"I think that really becomes a critical attribute to the student body and their course of study," Cave said "The show is about innovation, about a point of view, about looking at the body as a vehicle," whether it's functional or not.

The 40 seniors had essentially been planning their collections since summer. While interning at a small fashion label in New York City, senior Eliza Angell found a book on X-rayed historical garments, which showed the pieces' boning and inner structures.

Angell collected X-ray images of clothing, and structured her five-piece collection around them. Using layers and layers of silk organza, audience members could see through to a more solid innerwear, which included lingerie.

But students aren't the only ones showing off their fashion at the show.

"It's the only event here in Chicago where anything goes," Cave said. "There are no restrictions in terms of how you want to express yourself in dress. And it's so refreshing to be at an event where it's about style--individual style--and it's not limited or hindered in any way. I love that about it."

Check out photos from the SAIC Fashion Show here.

Ruthie Kott is a RedEye special contributor