Thursday, January 20, 2011: While working at the agency, I received an email – just before Christmas – from a woman named Sophie Lin. The email certainly wasn’t unusual, but what I didn’t know at the time, was how the email would change my life. Now, this sounds like quite a dramatic way to begin an event post – I realize this. But, looking back, I’m so glad I responded to Sophie…
In the email, Sophie introduced herself to me as one of the individuals behind a line of menswear called J.Cheikh. I immediately checked out the website (as I’m sure you did just now) and instantaneously fell in love with the collection. The interesting cuts, rich/royal colors, the way the pants fell a bit short on the model – all made me swoon as I clicked through each look. This was a collection after my own heart. A line of menswear that (if given the chance) I would literally sleep in, only to wake up and slip into another J.Cheikh look the next day.
As I corresponded with Sophie to book my runway models for her upcoming show, I began to grow fond of our conversations. We went back and forth many times (which often happens with my clients) until she asked me one day to be on the hosting committee for her event: The Chicago Launch of the F/W 2012 J.Cheikh Collection. I quickly agreed (actually, I think I squealed like a girl right there in my office) and went to work inviting my top list of industry friends and contacts. Before I knew it, I was corresponding with press about the show and RSVP-ing some truly amazing attendees to cover the event. By accident, I became Co-PR Pro for the event! (These things happen.) I quickly hooked up with the wonderful Grace Lin (Sophie’s sister and the real PR/Marketing Pro behind J.Cheikh) and we got to work on the guest list.
In preparation for the event, Sophie pitched to me an impromptu photo shoot with one of my Agency Galatea guys named Colin Ryan. Once we knew Billy Rood (Fig Photo/Ender Films) was shooting the new F/W 2012 collection on Colin, he quickly agreed. The shoot went stunningly well and Colin did an excellent job – giving his best in front of Billy Rood’s camera that day. A few days later, as we all stood in the J.Cheikh studio, we got a look at the images and were blown away. (Behind-the-scenes photos and post to come!)
As the day of the event quickly approached, the RSVP list was filling fast and needed to be cut off. (Being 150 over capacity is a good indication that the list must close.) We did just that and proceeded to prepare the press seating arrangements for the show. The evening quickly approached and I started on my way to Loft on Lake to assist with last minute details and help get everything in order. Upon arrival, I greeted my Galatea guys (Dominique Lark, Chris L., Benjamin Paulsen and Colin Ryan) and got the seating arrangements confirmed. I spotted Kyler Powell of Kyler Powell Designs securing the final touches of the staging and the lighting – and before we knew it, the doors were open and the guests began to arrive. The room filled quickly, photographers were crowding and everyone had taken their seats. It was time for the show to begin.
The host for the night, along with my friends, D.C. Crenshaw (Game Time Dine/Deals with D.C./Fete Select TV), Henrique Kerch (Factio Magazine) and Katarina Visnevska (Violinist – Lyric Opera of Chicago), was one of my favorite guys in town – Mr. Marcus Riley (NBC Universal). He took a moment to introduce the brand before Katarina played an exciting violin set to the beats of tracks spun by DJ Galvan. Once the sounds of her violin came to an end, the F/W 2012 J.Cheikh show began. Before our eyes, we saw a collection of suits, woven shirts and slacks that looked as if they had been plucked from the set of Mad Men (or the streets of Vegas, circa 1950.) Golden paisley brocade, deep blue velvet and slick black painted the collection as each step was taken toward the photographers. Fox pelts hung carelessly over the shoulders of each model – almost hinting at a sexy, yet subtle cocky confidence of a man that would wear such a distinctive suit.
When all the looks had hit the runway and the finale walk had been taken, it was clear that we all had been a part of something special that night. I was later asked by a friend from The Working Wardrobe for a quote about what I thought of the show, which I will share with you here: “I would absolutely say that the show last night offered a breath of fresh air to the somewhat ignored arena of menswear in Chicago. J.CheikhCheikh suit, I can confidently tell you that I walk taller when I’m wearing it. For a man such as myself that stands six feet, four inches – it’s quite a compliment to the designer. This brand is my absolute favorite right now and I am thrilled to say that I have become fast friends with the entire J.Cheikh team. They truly work with talent, passion and dedication as they remain focused on elevating the Chicago fashion community – a mission dear to my heart. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for J.Cheikh!” And that, my friends – is the truth.
Many thanks to Cheikh Lam and Sophie Lin – the husband and wife team behind J.Cheikh – as well as Grace Lin and Van Dang – for allowing me to be a part of something truly special – right here in Chicago. Join me in wishing them the best for their showing at New York Fashion Week, coming up in just a few weeks! I am so grateful to have made some great friends along this journey and I cannot wait to see what comes next from the passionate, talented team at J.Cheikh. (I also can’t wait to wear it.)
P.s. Did I mention it was life changing?