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Fashion Packed Challenge



the Next Generation of Designers

By Patricia Szpekowski

The third annual Fashion Packed Challenge at O’Hare International Airport took a different turn this year. Six fashion design students were tasked to shed a runway-style look in favor of creating a traveler’s wearable garment.


As always, the design would incorporate recycled materials from participating airlines and an “inspiration item” by an O’Hare retailer.

This popular competition — a partnership between the Chicago Department of Aviation, O’Hare shops and airlines, and Columbia College Chicago — kicked-off on Sept. 12, 2019 at O’Hare, when the six participating students had six seconds each to envision their creation, choose an inspiration item, and grab recycled materials from bins and tables. 


Returning to the Columbia College downtown Chicago campus, students had only two weeks to make their fashion statement. Professional mentors from The Apparel Industry Board and The Fashion Group International Chicago offered tips as they built, deconstructed, and amended their designs.


Finished garments returned to O’Hare for a one-week display in the four terminals, and the public was invited to vote for their favorite.

Final judging took place at O’Hare on Oct. 26. Each student gave a three-minute presentation explaining their selected inspiration item and material, design process, and how they coped with the strenuous deadline.


The judges listened attentively to the students and asked questions. They were Richard E. Butler, first deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation; Ambar Campos, executive director of the Apparel Industry Fashion Board in Chicago; Jenny Applegate, a personal stylist and image consultant, owner of The Leading Image, and board member of The Fashion Group International Chicago; and Pat Szpekowski, APR, president of PR Strategies and Communications, Inc.



Participating O’Hare Retailers and Accessory Items:

Brighton - Metal disc bracelet, white with blue rhinestones

Coach - Polished pebbled leather and suede purse in primrose

Duty Free Store - Swarovski necklace, swan in stones

Field Museum - Handmade, fair-trade earrings

HoyPoloi An Uncommon Gallery - Kent Stetson clutch, cosmos with illuminated stars

MAC - Travel lipstick trio


“I was so impressed with how far along they had gotten,” Campos said. “Each student had already sketched out several ideas and made patterns. They utilized advanced pattern drafting and sewing skills to create their unique pieces.”

Applegate was equally impressed. “I was blown away by the creativity and talent the students displayed,” she said. “I loved hearing how the retail item inspired them and looked at the overall execution on how the garment was made. It was an honor to be a judge.”


First place was awarded to Kaylie Haueisen for her blue dress with pleats with grommets. “I have never worked with grommets before,” said Haueisen, “but they reflected the circled Brighton bracelet I used as my inspiration.” She received airline gift cards and trophy, and her design will now be included at O’Hare in a permanent display.


Luke Kondrat was runner up. His two-piece, top-and-pant ensemble with matching tote bag was created from recycled airline seat covers, inspired by a Coach purse. “I envisioned a confident woman walking through the airport in style,” Kondrat said. 


Now enshrined in the Fashion Packed Challenge permanent display in Terminal 2, Haueisen’s dress shares the place of honor alongside previous winners: a short silver and blue cocktail dress designed by Bichoy Boutros (inspired by a Brighton tassle necklace) in 2018, and a long black coat embellished with hand-painted roses and deconstructed purse elements (inspired by suede boots and a leather purse from O’Hare’s Shoe Hospital) by John Lenahan IV, the 2017 champ. 


View the Fashion Packed Challenge documentary at


Participating Airlines providing recycled materials:

Air France

American Airlines

Cathay Pacific

Ethiopian Airlines

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Spirit Airlines

United Airlines


Columbia College Fashion Design Students:

Joshua Adamczak

Maxwell Bresler

Kaylie Haueisen

Brooklynn Huerta

Luke Kondrat

Ifrah Zafer

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