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Now that the 7th annual Chicago Fashion Focus has come to an end, this is the perfect time to reflect on the city’s initiative to cultivate local talent. Having just seen a parade of various trades, be it designers, producers, stylists, models, photographers and more, it’s comforting to know that the city is trying to help these emerging artists find a voice. Chicago definitely has been and still is a launching pad for many careers.

The locally based high fashion, boutique, modeling agency Factor Women is no stranger to developing talent and launching them into the world of high fashion. As a matter of fact, the Spring Summer 2012 show season was dominated by some of Factor’s Chicago models.

-Katrina Hoernig, 19 year old,  Whom you may have seen this week at the Millennium Park Tent, has just returned from fashion week, where she was featured by Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott, Charlotte Ronson and many more.

-Brittany Burke, 16 years old, spent several weeks traveling from New York to Paris and Milan. She was booked for one of the most coveted shows of the season –a Calvin Klein exclusive. She also walked in shows such as Rochas, Ungaro, Cacharel to name a few.  She is back in the Midwest now, finishing high school.

-Ava Smith, the 22 year old Chicago native ended up booking shows such as DKNY, Helmut Lang, Mugler and many more. She was also featured in a show by the uber talented Chicago grown and New York based, design duo, Creatures of the Wind, as was the aforementioned Katrina.

-Maria Bradley, who is 17 years old, started her first show season with a bang, booked by her stellar agent straight from Chicago. She opened the much talked about Alexander Wang show. Ashley Brokaw proclaimed Maria one of top three new comers on Maria was then also featured in Proenza Schouler, Tommy Hilfiger, an exclusive show for Versace and their other line Versus, as well as an exclusive show for Balenciaga in Paris. New York Magazine then featured Maria, three times, including an exclusive interview, as did WWD, and countless fashion blogs.

It’s exciting to know that all of these talented individuals started here in Chicago and that every year, there will be many more successes like these. As a matter of fact, many new models debuted this year in Factor’s exclusive shows during Chicago Fashion Focus, as well as many other emerging talents.

Kasia Koniar, Guest Blogger

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