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Mar 28, 2012 >> In Town: Designer Samantha Sleeper finds a new home at Sarca

Chicago native Samantha Sleeper (who now lives in New York City) returned to the Windy City to debut her eponymous line at a Sarca trunk show this past weekend. Her line, which officially debuted at New York Fashion Week in September and has already been seen on celebrities such as Katy Perry, is easy to love: not only are the clothes amazing—practical yet ethereal—they are created using eco-friendly materials and ethical production practices.

While in town, the ever-eloquent Samantha chats with G&F.

Q: You travel a lot, but what in Chicago are you always most excited to return to?
A: Chicago is famed for its Bauhaus style architecture, and growing up surrounded by the fluid, linear sensibility of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Roe has heavily influenced by design point of view. Because of that, I find so much peace in driving down Lake Shore Drive, taking in the cityscape on one side, and looking out onto Lake Michigan on the other. Those moments, usually some of my first when entering the city again, are so refreshing for me.

Q: What is distinct about fashion in Chicago as opposed to New York or elsewhere?
A: Speaking of the Bauhaus (yet again!), I think Chicago women really follow some of its mantras, including “Less is more” and “Form follows function.” The women in Chicago are smart and perceptive. They appreciate art and culture, and it shows up in the choices they make when curating their ensemble. They aren’t afraid of color or bold statement pieces but they find ways to translate the runway into reality in a very smart, edited manner. They choose a fantastic shoe, or a great statement necklace, or will pick an iconic print from a current designer’s season, and incorporate it with their wardrobe staples in fresh ways. The fashion in Chicago is great, and it’s worn by real women who are making moves in the world.

Q: You’ve premiered your line in NYC and previewed it at Dose Market, but what made you decide on Sarca to be the line’s real retail debut?
A: I was introduced to Sarca via April Francis [founder of Dose Market], a good friend of mine and a Chicago style maven. Immediately I was struck by the incredible balance of designers [Sarca] carried. From conceptual high fashion labels such as Viktor & Rolf, to well respected burgeoning brands like Bensoni, it was clear Alexis [Cozzini, Sarca owner] had a keen eye and direct point of view when choosing garments. As a designer, I really respected the store’s ability to create an experience for their customer. When you walk in, the store is so beautiful and well-merchandised that the environment encourages a sense of play, which I love. They celebrate fashion and make it fun and engaging, and I wanted my customer in Chicago to have a place where they could find my pieces and have it be a really enjoyable experience start to finish.

Q: Describe your line in five words or less.
A: Opulent femininity balanced by streamlined sensibility.

Q: Are those the same five words you would use to describe your personal style?
A: I would like to think so!

Q: Play favorites: what is your top piece from the collection?
A: My top piece from this collection is the Sam bell sleeve dress in navy blue [PICTURED ABOVE]. The color is so season-less, and an incredibly feminine alternative to the usual black. Also with the draping and wrapped bodice, it’s a universally flattering cut.

Find your favorite Samantha Sleeper piece at Sarca, 710 N. Wabash Avenue, 312.255.0900.