The Driehaus Awards for Fashion Excellence
Past Event Judges
Costume Director, Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Caryn Klein has had the pleasure of being part of the costume community in Chicago for thirty years. After working as a freelance designer for many years, she founded Costume Exchange Inc. in 1994, a center for the creation and construction of high quality costumes for theater, dance and opera. In 2001, Costume Exchange and Steppenwolf Theatre merged, and Klein is now the costume director. She manages the Steppenwolf Theatre costume shop that is honored to build costumes for all of the theatre’s stages and for other Chicago companies. Some of their valued clients include: Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Court Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Co. and Lookingglass Theatre. Under Klein’s direction, in 2015, the shop created costumes for “Motown” and “On Your Feet,” both enjoying successful Broadway runs.

Creative Director, Mignonette Bridal

Kpoene’ Kofi-Nicklin is a couturier and Chicago resident. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies from Middlebury College and later studied Fashion Business and Couture at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In 2002, she started a womenswear label, Shoot Out the Stars, which was sold online and in boutiques nationwide. Kofi-Nicklin put the label on hiatus in 2007 to move to San Francisco and become a buyer at Macy’s. After becoming lead buyer for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in 2009, she relaunched her label in 2010 as Mignonette Bridal in Chicago.

Mignonette Bridal has been recognized as one of Chicago’s best bridal salons by Chicago magazine, Time Out, Daily Candy, CBS, Racked, and Refinery 29, and its designs have been featured in numerous wedding publications including The Knot and Style Me Pretty. In 2014, Mignonette Bridal was an Editor’s Choice Finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Award.

In 2015, Kofi-Nicklin served as the design mentor for the winners of the FashioNext student design competition at the Chicago History Museum.

Vice President & General Manager, Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue

Wendy Krimins started her career with luxury retailer Neiman Marcus in 1999, and has been the Vice President/General Manager of the Michigan Avenue store since 2005. At Neiman Marcus, Krimins leads a team of 300 employees, who are dedicated to delivering a superior customer service experience.

At the Michigan Avenue store, Wendy directed the remodel of the entire store, solidifying its status as the premier luxury retail store in Chicago. She has also had the pleasure of meeting many designers including Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Derek Lam, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and David Yurman.

Her fashion influence stems from her mother, who was always perfectly styled for any occasion, and her sense of style was honed at Neiman Marcus. Her love of fashion covers everything from clothing to jewelry, shoes and handbags. Some of her favorite designers include Oscar de la Renta, Chanel and Brunello Cucinelli.

Chicago Correspondent, WWD

Kristin Larson covers local fashion, style news and features for Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). She began writing for WWD in 2000 and has reported on New York Fashion Week for several publications, interviewing designers and makeup artists backstage and dissecting the season’s key runway trends. Larson’s experience includes covering the women’s sportswear market for WWD, reporting on celebrity fashion for Life & Style Weekly and overseeing the women’s designer shoes and handbag market for Footwear News. She has also written for People StyleWatch, MSN, Real Simple and the Chicago Tribune.

Larson began her journalism career at Chicago suburban Daily Herald, working as an editorial assistant writing about fashion, food, entertainment and nightlife.

In addition to fashion, Larson is passionate about rescue dogs and she lives in Chicago with her adorable rescue mutt, Lilac.

Director, Fifth Avenue Club, Saks Fifth Avenue

As director of the Fifth Avenue Club at Saks Fifth Avenue, Deirdre Bormes helps wardrobe personalities across the gamut from Fortune 500 CEOs to the Queen of Soul. In 2014, she was awarded the Saks Fifth Avenue Service and Selling Award.

She began her career with Saks Fifth Avenue in New York in the executive training program in the buying organization. She started her career in Chicago as the couture buyer for Marshall Field’s and Director of the Chanel Boutique before returning to Saks Fifth Avenue in her current role.

Bormes sits on the boards of the English Speaking Union and the Leader Council for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. She is a member of the Costume Council of the Chicago History Museum, Fashion Group International and the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center. Deirdre graduated from Purdue University and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She also has been spotted performing on the Off Broadway stages.

Designer & Founder, Azeeza

Azeeza Khan was born and raised in Chicago and spent high school summers taking informal lessons in garment construction and hand embroidery. Khan later graduated from DePaul University where she studied Political Science and Marketing. During that time, she continued to design her personal wardrobe, while moving forward with a corporate career as an advertising creative director.

In 2013, Khan launched full-time into design. That year, her new label was nominated for Fashion Group International's “Rising Star Award.” The following year, Vogue India recognized Khan as a “Rising Star Designer" and she opened her first retail concept on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, making her the only local designer presence in the luxury retail district. The retail post was nominated by TimeOut and Racked as "Best New Store" of 2013, a "top Chicago destination" by Forbes Travel. CS magazine labeled the brand an “overnight success” and Travel + Leisure named her a “Top Chicago Designer.”

Azeeza US designs have been worn by iconic women including Sarah Jessica Parker, Sophia Bush and Gabrielle Union, as well as other modern style influencers such as The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni.

The Azeeza design alchemy embodies the woman focused on confidence and differentiated luxury. The emerging label is handcrafted in limited runs to ensure exclusivity and superior detailing. The collection contains versatile and transitional day-to-evening separates and accessories with subtle statement. Khan’s hometown of Chicago continues to keep the brand sustainability to the self-invested, private brand.

Curator of Costume, Chicago History Museum

With almost ten years of experience curating within both social history and fine art institutions, Petra Slinkard joined the Chicago History Museum as the curator of costumes from the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) where she was the curatorial associate for textile and fashion arts. During her six years at the IMA, Slinkard contributed to the research, organization, and installation of nine exhibitions. Prior to the IMA, she worked with the Sage Collection (formerly the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection) at Indiana University and taught classes in Fashion History, Fundamentals of Textiles, Consumer Behavior, and Professional Selling & International Marketing.

Slinkard is an active member of the Costume Society of America, serving as the Midwest region’s newsletter editor and a member of the Association of Art Museum Curators. Her interests lie in historical dress as it pertains to the study of world cultures, haute couture, fashion show production, adoption and diffusion theories, manufacturing, and subcultural dress.

President, SITTAR by Gibeon Tolbert

Gibeon Tolbert specializes in creating custom apparel. The scope of his work includes designing, fabricating and styling. Over the course of the last year, Tolbert has made a variety of casual and dress apparel for unique clientele, from bespoke suits for Chicago bulls Derrick Rose to tailored aprons for the serving fleet at Nico Restaurant.

Tolbert got his start right out of high school assisting Chicago designer Barbara Bates, who also happens to be his aunt. He then moved on to Fishman’s Fabrics, where he was promoted to manager after demonstrating his premier sales aptitude. Tolbert enjoys his double-role, and he gets first pick at the best fabrics in the world.

Owner/Creative Director, Elaya Vaughn Bridal

Kate Pankoke began designing clothing at the age of fourteen. While studying Apparel Design and Technology at Florida State University, Kate started several businesses, including BiCoastal Renewal, an online retailer that up-cycled vintage clothing. Pankoke also worked in freelance custom designing and pattern-making. Pankoke decided to specialize in formal wear, more specifically, bridal. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Kate began developing her first collection for Elaya Vaughn Bridal, which now operates in Chicago where she sells to boutiques across the USA and in Japan. Pankoke competed on Season 11 of Project Runway and, after an outpouring of love from fans, won a social media campaign and was selected to compete for a second time on Season 12. Pankoke came in 6th place and showed her first Ready to Wear collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center for Spring 2014.

Co-Owner, Luxury Garage Sale

When cleaning out and editing her clients' closets and homes, Lindsay Segal was always faced with the same question: what to do with all this extra stuff? Luxury Garage Sale was the obvious answer. Segal uses her styling sensibility (she's styled Wilco at the GRAMMY Awards® and assisted in styling Lady Gaga for a WWD cover shoot), and her discerning eye and love for all things vintage, to help curate Luxury Garage Sale's boutique. When she's not selling your stuff, Segal can be found collecting vintage tchotchkes and searching endlessly for the perfect costume jewelry piece.

Costume Designer

Alison Siple is a freelance theatre costume designer based in Chicago. Recent projects include Anatole (First Stage, Milwaukee), The How and the Why (Timeline Theatre), The Tennesee Williams Project, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance and Ivywild (Hypocrites Theatre Company) and Lord of the Flies (Steppenwolf Theatre for Young Adults). Siple designed the costumes for the award-winning production of Our Town at Barrow Street Theatre (Off-Broadway), The Broad Stage (L.A.) and Huntington Theatre Company(Boston). Upcoming Projects: Ask Aunt Susan with Goodman Theatre and A Small Fire (Steep Theatre). Siple was one of twelve Chicago artists to receive a 2011 3Arts Grant. She won the 2010 Equity Jeff Award for The Mystery of Irma Vep (Court Theatre) and the 2011 Non-Equity Jeff Award for Cabaret (The Hypocrites). Siple was awarded non-Equity Jeff Awards for Time and the Conways (Griffin) in 2006 and Leonce und Lena (The Hypocrites) in 2005. She was named one of the 5 Most Prolific Theatre Artists of the Decade by Time Out Chicago. She is an undergraduate of Northwestern University and a company member of The Hypocrites, an Artistic Associate with Lookingglass Theatre Company, and an Associate company member of Steep Theatre.

Owner & Designer, Elise Bergman
Buyer, Macy’s
Founder & Creative Director, Two Penny Blue
Vice President & General Manager, Neiman Marcus, Michigan Avenue
Editor-in-Chief, Michigan Avenue magazine
Designer, Diego Rocha Handbags
Owner and Designer, Peach Carr Designs
Founder & Owner, Tracy Clifford Style
Global Store Director Michigan Avenue, Louis Vuitton
Designer, Sylwia W
Couture Designer, Elda de la Rosa Couture
Owner, Neapolitan
Luca Luca
Vice President & Director of Sotheby's Chicago, Sotheby’s
Store Director, Van Cleef & Arpels
Project Runway Season 8
General Manager, Escada
CEO & Founder, Rockit Ranch Productions
Project Runway Season 3
Owner, Frances Heffernan
‎Image & Wardrobe Consultant
‎Visual Manager International & Wholesale, Brooks Brothers
Owner, Ultimo
Designer & Owner, Maria Pinto
General Manager, MaxMara
Owner, Ultimo
Designer, Mark Heister
Chicago Designer
Marshall Field & Company
Marshall Field & Company
Anchor, WBBM 2 News
Saks Fifth Avenue
Chicago Social