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This past Monday night, the Salon Series presented its first ever fashion-themed dinner. It should come as no surprise that JC Steinbrunner’s longtime friend Lara Miller, one of the city’s most prominent designers and executive director of the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s, was the first local designer selected to participate. The Salon Series is a reoccurring dinner held at very exclusive, private locations with the goal of hosting excellent conversation. The night began with Lara Miller showing guests around her studio, workspace, and showroom. The Lara Miller “complex” is set in a prewar Lakeview apartment building and spans two levels, with the production facilities in a second floor apartment and the showroom in the basement. Miller repeatedly stated that she has the best landlord in the world for allowing her annex nearly the entire underground space for her fashion business. The exposed brick walls, wooden furniture, and low lighting (amplified with a number of candles scattered through the space) combined to create an earthy, inviting environment perfect for a master of eco-chic.
After bringing guests through the different rooms in her labyrinth, everyone was moved to a different underground space in a neighboring building. Her friend David also annexed the basement under his apartment, thanks for a flexible landlord, and created the perfect space for private dinners. A twenty foot table was the centerpiece of the room, which also included a “chill space” with couches and chairs. This was where dinner was to be served by roving chef Abraham Conlon and his wandering kitchen aptly named X-Marx. The company clearly was named after the idea of “X marks the spot on a map,” given that he has no restaurant and cooks only at private dinners. He and his team provided a mouth-watering gourmet dinner for the guests, complete with a take home recipe for Chef Abraham’s caesar dressing. The first course was a sourdough roll infused with smoked Copper River salmon mousse and a locally grown radish. The menu then progressed to spinich salad, Susanna Farms pork over handmade noodles, Jackfruit, and concluded with a strawberry pavolva.
Every single guest appeared to be having the time of their life. Over dinner, Lara shared with the guests the triumphs and obstacles she has faced in her journey not only as a Chicago designer, but also as someone championing the Midwestern fashion industry. She spoke of how hard it was to even get stores to listen to her pitch, and recalled how it was p.45 that gave her her big break back in 2005 by inviting her to host a trunk show at their high-end boutique.
The Salon Series dinners tend to sell out within one or two days of being announced, due to the limited space at each location. The goal is to provide intelligent conversation so the group is kept small enough to communicate. Don’t miss out on the next dinner! - Amy Creyer