by Sheena Sood
Chicago-based clothing designer Elise Bergman's business began as a small venture. A family-taught seamstress and self-trained designer with a degree in English lit, she started cutting and sewing dresses by hand out of her home in Michigan. Elise launched her label with a small collection of dresses made with mostly vintage fabrics in July 2006. Those pieces all sold and with growing demand, she moved to Chicago to dedicate herself to the label and began working with a team of pro seamstresses and tailors.
Elise now divides her time between the Montana mountains, Chicago and a lakeside Michigan town. She takes inspiration from both urban and country environments and keeps in mind the lifestyles of the city girl and the rural girl while designing.
Her collections use silks, organic cottons, hand-dyed or hand-woven natural materials, as well as rare fabrics collected by scouring estate sales and interiors showrooms. The pictured knit vest was crafted from castoff sweaters, for example. Wrap dresses and skirts formed a large part of her first collection and they continue to be her signature pieces.