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Melissa Turner The first-ever director of fashion art and events in Chicago, Turner is charged with supporting and publicizing the city's nascent fashion industry and acting as a liaison with designers. So far she's had her hands full with Fashion Focus Chicago, now in its second year, but future projects reportedly include developing an online resource guide to help designers find materials and showcase their work and a "fashion incubator" at Macy's for emerging talent.

Kelly Ryan O'Brien O'Brien is the director of the Chicago outpost of Gen Art, a national nonprofit that highlights the work of up-and-coming artists in fashion, music, art, and film. Gen Art helped spark the city's discovery of its own homegrown talent, featuring hot local designers in splashy extravaganzas like its annual Fresh Faces Chicago runway show, and continues to help those designers achieve national standing. Gen Art also organizes the popular Shop CHICago events, which bring the wares of local designers to a single venue. For more see

Lindsey Boland In the year since she opened Habit (1951 W. Division, 773-342-0093), her boutique devoted to showcasing the work of independent designers (including herself), Boland has emerged as a major player on the local fashion scene. With a knowing eye and endless enthusiasm for the innovations of emerging designers (some of whom are still in school), Boland's built her boutique into one of the few where you really can find something different.

Ikram Goldman As the owner of Ikram (see main story), one of the highest-profile designer boutiques in the country, Goldman makes runway styles accessible to the average woman--so long as she's got an above-average bank account. But even if you couldn't afford a button in her store, it's worth taking a look around to see her beautifully edited selection--she's a visionary at the top of her game.

Robin Richman Designer Robin Richman opened her boutique (see main story) in 1997 to showcase her own exquisite hand-knit sweaters alongside lesser-known lines from New York and Europe. Now it's morphed into a venue-cum-workshop for several local artists and designers, some of whom may be found tallying up your purchases behind the counter. Richman's friendly Bucktown boutique doesn't even have a Web site, but it's well-known among customers who like a little art with their fashion.

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