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PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIA PONCE, PONCE PHOTOGRAPHY

CREATIVE DIRECTION BY D. GRAHAM KOSTIC | WRITTEN BY ELLE EICHINGER

Azeeza Khan seems to be everywhere lately. Her clothing line, Atelier Azza has taken off at rocket speed—its over-the-top-in-a-great-way blazers and dresses adorning the city’s fashion elite—and she’s been featured in all of Chicago’s major magazines. But there’s something most people still don’t know about her: while she has been putting her blood, sweat, and tears into bringing her vision to live, she was—up until just one month ago—also working a 9 to 5 job as a consumer market specialist, making her quite possibly the hardest working fashion designer on the planet. She had given herself exactly one year to test the fashion waters with Atelier Azza: if it took off, she would quit her job; if it didn’t, she still had a successful career to fall back on. But the minute Chicago’s social set got sight of the light reflecting off Azeeza’s sparkle-encrusted first collection, they were blinded to all other designers.

Recently, Josephine Lee, artistic director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, was similarly enraptured with Azeeza’s bright bling. The two struck up a conversation at a gala, and what resulted was a partnership: Azeeza was commissioned to revamp the 56-year-old Choir uniforms, and bring them into the New Age. The flashier new look was debuted at the Choir’s October 26 fundraising gala, Red Jacket Optional. (And Azeeza’s work with the Choir was far from her first brush with philanthropy; for every piece of clothing she sells, Azeeza donates an article of clothing to underserved women in parts of India.) The Choir uniform gig snowballed: currently Azeeza is working on the costumes for a December performance of Sita Ram with the Lookingglass Theatre. It’s not surprising, really: “My pieces are pretty over-the-top,” Azeeza says. “I’ve found that they are being very easily translatable to stage.” As for her own style, and the clothing line, taking things down a notch is a constant struggle for the razzle dazzle queen. A constant advertisement for Azza, though, Azeeza always has on a perfect example of balance: simply black leggings with flats and a bold Azza top, for instance. The ladies of Chicago, however, are totally embracing the bold—we have a hunch that’s because you can’t help but be drawn to the unwavering confidence of a girl like Azeeza.

AZEEZA’S CLOSET: Bold and editorial. Envy-inducing (Valentino, Louboutin, and their peers). Classically luxe. Filled with shoes to complement all the Azza (“I love Charlotte Olympia, she’s really fresh and up-and-coming”).
AZEEZA WILL NEVER PART WITH: Most of it. “In both designing and purchasing clothes, I always ask myself, ‘Will I regret this is six months?’ If the answer is yes, I don’t buy it.”
AZEEZA WEARS BLAZER BY ATELIER AZZA. TANK TOP BY SPLENDID.
VINTAGE LEATHER LEGGINGS. SHOES BY VALENTINO.