Chicago designers make an impact on Oscar

February 20, 2009 4:25:20 AM PST
Some local fashion designers may see their Oscar dream come true during the Academy Awarsd Sunday night.For the first time the Oscars is hosting a fashion designer competition. Three of the finalists are from Chicago.

It is a designer's dream to see his or her work on the red carpet. Some Chicagoans are a step closer to that dream.

The Oscars took in 200 entries. The finalists are two designers from L.A., two from New York and three from Chicago.

The beat of Chicago's emerging fashion industry turns up a notch. Three Chicago designers are finalists in the first ever Oscars Designer Challenge.

Moire Conroy with a flowing 60's inspired gown in silk charmeuse and chiffon. Sam Kori George's gown in a crepe lamé with orchids atop the train. And on, Maria Pinto tells the public about her bustled gown in a jacquard fabric.

Maria Pinto's store on Jefferson Street is among 375 Chicago retailers featuring local designers.

In the Gold Coast you'll find the staff of Sam Kori George working on his designs. He has both work space and a showroom on Oak Street.

"People say if you can survive in New York you can survive anywhere. I think it's the opposite. I think if you can survive in Chicago you can survive anywhere," said George.

George says he's honored to be in such good company in the finals and winning would simply be a dream come true.

"It would be amazing. Small town me...I'm a kid from Chicago for crying out loud," said George.

We found Moire Conroy in her Brooklyn studio. She keeps studios in both Chicago and New York.

The 30-year-old graduate from the Art Institute of Chicago enjoys underdog status in the competition.

"I'm the second youngest. We're definitely the young underdogs I think," said Conroy. "It's really exciting actually, very exciting."

Conroy says the recognition helps open doors for new designers and she enjoys seeing other Chicagoans getting the attention they deserve.

"In addition to Barack Obama being a Chicago native, things like this are going to put Chicago a little more on the map," said Conroy.

The winner will be announced at the Oscars this Sunday.

The designers ABC7 spoke with say even if they don't win they attention in the finals is great for business and great for the future of Chicago designers. There are four hundred Chicago-based designers.

Maria Pinto's name may be familiar. She's a favorite designer of First Lady Michelle Obama.