PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIA PONCE,Â PONCE PHOTOGRAPHYâ€¨
CREATIVE DIRECTION BY D. GRAHAM KOSTIC | WRITTEN BY ELLE EICHINGER
Elise Bergman finds inspiration for her eponymous clothing line in wildly unique places. On her inspiration board right now: A print designed by her friend (Michelle Vondiziano of January Prints); a poster from the 1978-79 season of the Minneapolis Childrenâ€™s Theater Company; print-outs of interesting book covers; fabric swatches; prototypes for new accessories; and a 19th century Native American buffalo horn spoon that her grandmother gave her. It may seem a random gaggle of things, but it is finely curated by Eliseâ€™s intensely artistic mind. What we love about Elise is that she wants to share this creativity with others, and, letâ€™s face it, â€œFashion design and many other artistic pursuits can often be very solitary careers,â€ Elise says. So she finds community within the Marwen Foundation, where she shares her skills with Chicagoâ€™s underserved children, teaching them sewing, fashion and textile design, and patternmaking in after-school and weekend art programs.
On top of designing multiple collections each year, her philanthropic efforts may seem like a huge take-on, but Elise says she no longer feels like sheâ€™s juggling too much. â€œI’m doing something that is making me better equipped to deal with the ins-and-outs of my everyday business.â€ (How can you not admire that outlook?) â€œI am inspired by the creativity and vision of the staff and other teaching artists; and by the passion, eagerness to learn, and hard work of my students.â€ Elise herself displays that eagerness to learn, and has all her lifeâ€”all the way back to learning style from her mother (let it be noted, Elise comes from a very fashionable family). â€œMy mom took the most fashion risks of anybody Iâ€™ve known, but she always looked natural and effortless,â€ Elise says. â€œI aspire to be as daring and confident as she was.â€
ELISE’S CLOSET: Well-organized and minimalist (to be fair, thatâ€™s only because she also has a studio space where she stores more). Full of well-made classics: black dresses, neutral button-ups and great blazers.Â
ELISE WILL NEVER PART WITH: â€œA small section of crazy pieces that I can’t get rid of that includes lots of funky prints, a couple beaded boleros, and a pair of high-waisted velvet palazzo pants.â€
ELISE WEARS VINTAGE ST. JOHN LEOPARD PRINT BLOUSE. ORGANIC COTTON SHORTS BY ELISE BERGMAN.
EARRINGS BY ABIGAIL HECHE. BOOTIES BY FIORENTINI + BAKER.