HMR Inspiration Report: Fashion Design // September, 2021

Fresh off the proverbial heels of NY Fashion Week 2021, this month’s HMR Inspiration Report dives into fashion design phenoms who’ve caught our team’s collective eye and fuel fantastical wardrobes the world ’round.

Mentioned by multiple people, the perfect jump off for the study of pushing limits: the genius of the late Alexander McQueen. Event Designers Staci Miller + Nick Watts both believe he was a fashion pioneer in risk taking, unique combinations.

Staci says, “A couple years ago, team HMR went to the David Bowie exhibition at the MCA together. We witnessed some of the incredible costumes McQueen created for David Bowie, such as the Union Jack coat, worn on the cover of his 1997 album, Eart HL I NG. So much of his work has botanical inspiration along with unique textures. He’s one of the most innovative people I’ve seen in fashion in a long time – and it was heartbreaking when he passed. I really wanted to see his Savage Beauty Show when it was in NYC – and still have aspirations to see it, when it eventually resurfaces (hopefully) someday.  Sarah Burton is doing an incredible job carrying on his legacy.  The floral work she incorporates into design is phenomenal. 

Nick quipped, “Alexander McQueen’s idea of beauty is transcendental. He can put disperate things together which would not classically be considered beautiful – and the end result is genius, that which has not been seen before.”


CEO Rishi Patel‘s interest is continuously piqued by the stylistic views and innovative approach of Bottega Veneta.

“Over the past year, Daniel Lee, Bottega’s famed Creative Director, has evolved the way the brand refers to and presents its collections. With this, he has reclaimed creative control over the timing and nature of the work. Biannual runways are now Salons; the pre-seasons are called Wardrobe. This is part of a larger shift within the luxury fashion industry – brands opting out of the long-established seasonal calendar in favor of creativity; bucking the performative nature of seasonal expectations.

The art direction of the venue down to the carpet, for BV’s most recent Salon, is a perfectly poignant background for the fabulously tailored, textured looks. Salon 3, coming this October, will drop in Detroit and that’s another reason to love what Daniel is doing, launching in what is arguably the location of one of America’s current artistic renaissances.”


Director of Brand Strategy + Partnerships, Marley Finnegan, appreciates the maximal nature of Autumn Adiegbo and her colorfully bold, environmentally conscious stylings.

“I am always searching out ethically + sustainably designed fashion – which simultaneously makes a statement. As a black female designer, Autumn is devoted to positively impacting the lives of women across cultures by utilizing female-owned production facilities in the U.S., and providing global artisans (whom are largely female poc) with meaningful employment and fair wages.

From sourcing to delivery, her company embraces sustainable practices by purchasing in limited quantities, producing only what is ordered which in turn minimizes fabric waste, excessive manufacturing, and surplus stock. Her collections are eco-friendly and all of her pieces have a stunningly feminine, vibrant, one-of-a-kind vibe.

Autumn’s mission is to instill ethical and sustainable practices into the sourcing, construction, and distribution of every garment made, which makes for a different purchasing experience for the consumer – one which is steeped in purpose and a hopeful understanding of the commitment and cost it takes to properly and thoughtfully construct a garment to last. This thoughtful consumerism is the rightful way forward for fashion.”


Event Designer Natalie Walsh is partial to the creative stylings of designer Naeem Khan.

Naeem Khan grew up in a world flush with culture, architecture, art, history and design. Born in Mumbai, he cultivated his knowledge of textiles from his grandfather and father, both of whom designed intricately adorned clothing worn by royal families in India. When he moved to the United States as a teenager to become a designer, he began as an apprentice for legendary designer Halston at merely 20 years old.

Training under Halston, he was immersed in idea of modern restraint and learned the craft of draping and cutting  to create clean, timeless silhouettes. He eventually merged this design philosophy with the knowledge he gained from his family’s business to nurture his own unique style, and luckily for us, his design aesthetic was born.

“I personally adore the femininity of his designs and how no detail is too intricate or thoughtful. His patterns are an appreciation of the female body and all its innate beauty,” says Natalie.


Creative Director Bill Heffernan appreciates the transcendent work of Christian Dior when it comes to feminine fashions, and the timeless integrity of Ralph Lauren and Virgil Abloh when it comes to menswear.

“Both Dior and RL do timeless flawlessly. Dior’s work is just so drop dead gorgeous. I like Ralph because the expanse of his collection for menswear is just so vast and covers every possible occasion. You can find and acquire anything from the most formal and elegant to slack, casual, beachy or even mountain terrain.  Virgil Abloh’s men’s couture is astoundingly beautiful. His runway show for spring/summer ’19 in Paris was some of the most beautiful clothing I have laid eyes on for menswear. The colors, the cuts, the creativity – just stunning.” 


Japanese Designer Issey Miyake is high on Event Designer Burt Rubenstein’s list of inspiring creators.

“Miyake’s fun yet structural approach to fashion is something to marvel. Between his 9 brands with all different personalities and target markets, his “Pleats, Please” line is so architecturally pleasing, colorful, fun – and also professional. The special details he always knows to add build interest and intrigue. His menswear achieves gender fluidity in a chic and unique way –  his clothing is truly universal both for an elevated night on the town or one at home by the fire.”

Event Designer David Epstein is a fan of Ermenegildo Zegna for a sharp fitting suit.

“There is no better look for a man than a perfectly tailored suit featuring flawless, high end material. Ermenegildo Zegna started his company in 1910 in the Northern Italian town of Trivero. His dream was to create the most beautiful fabrics in the world. It has since grown into one of Italy’s best-known dynamic family businesses. To me, textiles are such a huge component of the creation of a suit. I believe the most simplistic, clean material makes the biggest impact. The quality of fabric is one of the reasons I love the timeless stylings of Zegna, now in the fourth generation of the family and still innovating.”

Marketing Producer Emma Kuske loves the thoughtful production and photographic nature of ELLISS. 

“ELLISS pieces are made from soft, natural or recycled fabrics from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo to recycled ocean plastics. The art direction is that of old photographs – and being a photographer, it feels akin to my spirit and offers a unique, non symmetrical alternative to pattern play.

Their fabrics are light, breathable and kind to your skin as well as low impact to the earth. They only work with two small manufacturers – and their London factory is in the same building as the garments are designed, eliminating unnecessary travel emissions. They also work with a family run factory in Slovenia where all offcuts are recycled for use in the construction industry. By producing in very limited quantities they intend to eliminate excess and sell all the inventory they have, which makes me feel good about investing in these pieces for numerous reasons – not to mention simply how interesting they are.”


Event Designer Brittanie Ahrens had a personal moment with the late dress designer, the lovely Amsale. 

“Dress shopping was the one part of the wedding planning process that I was most excited and most scared of. Not being a “sample size” was HARD. I visited more than 15 shops in 4 states. I had an appointment downtown Chicago which happened to fall during the Amsale trunk show. I wanted no glitz – but a dress fresh off the runway caught my eye. Amsale talked me into trying it on and it was perfect. She held my hand and made me feel like a million bucks. She teared up and told me that seeing my happiness in that dress is why she loves her career. I could tell she meant it. She didn’t care that I didn’t look like the model she created it for – she was genuinely so thrilled for me. I even invited her to the wedding! I will never forget that day and I will always remember her kindness – and the part she played in the best day of our lives.”

Event Designer Bari Singh has always been a fan of the vibrant colors, patterns and knit nature of Missoni. 

“While I have always been akin to Missoni’s bold use of color, pattern play and always comfy knit textiles, I had a newfound respect after their debut at Milan Fashion Week in February of 2017. Gigi Hadid famously kicked off the show walking to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in the pink pussy hat first made famous by the 2017 Women’s March. The show’s notes also explained the political nature of the show head-on:
“Angela Missoni communicates the femininity of our times, prepared to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of our contemporary society: the conditions, needs, and rights of all women and minorities.”

“This is a protest collection,” hairstylist Anthony Turner told Allure backstage before the show started.

“When a brand has a strong purpose and clearly states their support for those that have historically been underserved, it makes it oh-so-much-sweeter to support + champion their work,” says Bari.

As we are in the midst of the busiest time in event industry history, it’s been quite a feat (and pleasure) to continue marching on with our monthly “Inspo Reports,” as we lovingly refer to them. With only a few more left before this campaign evolves to new heights, we look forward to sharing our favorite Cultural Icons + Civic Institutions with you next month, before we get to our favorite unique brands to gift (hello, holidays!) and how we like to unwind.

Until then, Ciao, all you fab fashion fans!