Life & Style: Lessons in Self-Expression from Creative Chicagoans

Creativity, self-expression, emotion, comfort: the many philosophies of personal style were in high form at Pitchfork this past month. It was an inspiring few days talking style with folks from all facets of the festival—from music industry pros to production staff to concert goers. I found the stories just as interesting as the looks. For all the lovers of style out there, take a look…

Why is this on Apartment Therapy, some of you might be asking. I know, I know, it’s not a home-specific post, but after writing for the site for six years, I also know that lots of you are fascinated (as am I) by design and aesthetics and the way different people approach style in general. So consider this an off-the-beaten-home design-path celebration of diverse personal style.

Greta Kline—stage name Frankie Cosmos—before performing on Friday at Pitchfork. She told me that her first phrase as a child was, “Is it cotton?” and she she still prefers soft cotton clothing with a utilitarian edge to it. Her mom, actress Phoebe Cates (fun fact: her dad is Kevin Kline), owns a boutique in NYC and while Greta “pretty much hates shopping,” she has a sincere appreciation for well-made clothing and tends to buy vintage pieces that she knows are quality.

Vincent Martell, creative director of VAM Studio, a production house that creates web series, branded content and music videos (he recently directed a video for Jamila Woods featuring Chance the Rapper). For Vincent, something like Pitchfork is part work, and said he “looks at style like armor…the more you wear, the more protected you feel.” He also likes to incorporate pieces from family and friends. The Kimono comes from his friend’s late mom, and he described feeling a sense of calm when wearing it.

I spotted Jessi just chilling by a tree backstage and thought she looked like such a rocker girl, and as it turns out, she is! After growing up in a conservative town in Missouri, she loves living in Chicago where she feels good expressing herself. Her signature moves are her winged eyeliner, which she “perfected at 14,” and the leather fanny pack she bought on a trip to Berlin.

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Mike Renaud is the former Vice President and Creative Director of Pitchfork and describes his aesthetic as clean and intentional and tends to opt for pieces that “won’t look ridiculous in 10 years.” He noted that he applies this minimal POV to most parts of his life, from his home to his style.

April looks at all design as creative expression and responds to patterns, texture, and loves to play around with themes when getting dressed—her theme for Pitchfork was 1940’s summer. I’d say she nailed it. Cool fact: April’s gorgeous dress was handmade by her mom!

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Petya Shalamanova is a fine art and commercial photographer who was at Pitchfork photographing bands for Vice (aka she spent a lot of the festival in the photo pit). She describes her style as dressing based on how she’s feeling: mellow (but still with some flair) when she’s working or just wants to blend in, as she stated “sometimes you don’t want people looking at you.” But she goes for dressing up when she’s feeling confident and wants to make a statement.

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Cale is part of the Pitchfork production team (the folks who make the festival happen). He’s a vintage and handmade guy all the way and doesn’t go in for trends or fads.

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Ogechi Anyanwu (left) owns Eye of the Sun, a handmade leather design company. She also works for Renegade and loves picking up colorful, patterned finds from vendors. Her style is inspired by her mom’s “bold, pretty Nigerian clothing” Ogechi notes that she’s “the tomboy version of that.”

Jocelyn Brown is Senior Music Producer at Leo Burnett and a local DJ. She said she’s fairly minimal (in her clothes and home design) but likes to have fun and “loves a clean line.” Jocelyn goes for simplicity and calm on her down time because it filters out the noise of working in advertising.

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Heidi Coudal (who was described as “amazing and badass” by one of her employees), owns Big Delicious Planet, the catering company that caters Pitchfork. Long story short: Heidi and her team fed all of the artists and their crew during Pitchfork. Heidi has been catering for rock stars for over 20 years and says a fan favorite is her Jamaican jerk chicken (secret recipe, naturally). After a long day of running the behind-the-scenes food services, Heidi told me she opted for a style that “was a little brighter and bolder than [her] usual all black because it was a beautiful day and she felt like having a good time.”

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

It was so cool to see Patrick and his daughter, Muriel (12) hanging out at a music festival together, not to mention that they are a super dynamic dad-daughter style duo. Patrick said that one of the good things about getting a little bit older is that he’s learned exactly what works for him and keeps it simple: black and gray mostly. Muriel said her style “is the opposite of [her] dad,” as she likes to be free and spontaneous with her style.

Andrew owns Louder House, a music and art venue in Chicago. After thinking about it for a minute, he said he would describe his style as “loud,” which he connected back to his love of big sounds and loud music.

The socks, Andrew noted, “are therapeutic.”

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Maya is a teacher and described her overall style (and approach to life) as feeling comfortable and confident in herself, and she feels most carefree when she’s expressing her unique sense of style.

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

This crew, Karolina, Woo, and Liz, was at Pitchfork to check out friends, like Joey Purp, who were performing. Collectively they all are fans of Vans, hip hop, and “the 90s” (which made me feel like a dinosaur).

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Lisa (left, artist), Mike (center, works in sales), and Lori (right, photographer) had a very superheroes-in-disguise vibe. Turns out they’re friends who bonded over a shared love of art and music as teenagers and, twenty years later, are still uniting to “dance [their] asses off to LCD Soundsystem.”

(Image credit: Chad Curry)

Kim Alpert is an internationally-exhibited multi-disciplinary artist who describes her style as “visions of the future from the past while being exceptionally comfortable all the time.” Kim also wisely noted that “when you’re comfortable in your clothes you feel confident and look good.” Amen.

Leslie, Max, and Jada. Leslie (left) is a theater major and describes her style as Afro-centric and based on her mood. Max is a marketing major who loves the art of Murakami and goes for a vibrant, thrift store style that isn’t bound by gender. Jada is media studies/communication major who loves cinematography and is a fan of street style and skate culture (she just bought herself a skate board!). I could’ve talked to these three about style for hours.

The cool kids: High schoolers Noah (left, attends a Waldorf school) and Ewan (attends Chi Arts) said they go for a style that is “cool, comfortable.” These two made me feel good about the future, as Noah’s question to me wasn’t about when this article would go up, it was “do y’all have any internships?” Asking about internships at Pitchfork. The kids are alright, indeed.

A very good squad and their well-loved, very cool shoes.


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