PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIA PONCE,Â PONCE PHOTOGRAPHYâ€¨
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 speedâ€”its over-the-top-in-a-great-way blazers and dresses adorning the cityâ€™s fashion eliteâ€”and sheâ€™s been featured in all of Chicagoâ€™s major magazines. But thereâ€™s something most people still donâ€™t know about her: while she has been putting her blood, sweat, and tears into bringing her vision to live, she wasâ€”up until just one month agoâ€”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 didnâ€™t, she still had a successful career to fall back on. But the minute Chicagoâ€™s social set got sight of the light reflecting off Azeezaâ€™s sparkle-encrusted first collection, they were blinded to all other designers.
Recently, Josephine Lee, artistic director of the Chicago Childrenâ€™s Choir, was similarly enraptured with Azeezaâ€™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 Choirâ€™s October 26 fundraising gala, Red Jacket Optional. (And Azeezaâ€™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. Itâ€™s not surprising, really: â€œMy pieces are pretty over-the-top,â€ Azeeza says. â€œIâ€™ve found that they are being very easily translatable to stage.â€ 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 boldâ€”we have a hunch thatâ€™s because you canâ€™t help but be drawn to the unwavering confidence of a girl like Azeeza.