A Dress for Chess

A Design Contest in Saint Louis

Thank you to WWD for a wonderful article about our collaboration with the World Chess Hall of Fame. You can read the full article below:

Chess doesn't require any special gear or performance wear, but comfort is key.

By David Moin on July 3, 2017

The World Chess Hall of Fame and the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator want to see the grand

masters of the game dressed in grand style.

It’s a sport typically associated with head-scratching brooding intellectuals in discrete

suits and ties, rather than fashion flair. Nevertheless, the six emerging designers

participating in the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator have been paired with six chess grand

masters to create two chess-inspired garments — a uniform piece and one whimsical


The winning design of the contest, called Pinned! A Designer Chess Challenge, will be

revealed Aug. 1 at the Windows on Washington event space in Saint Louis’ garment

district during the opening ceremonies for the Sinquefield Cup international chess

tournament at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. It will also be

exhibited starting Oct. 5 at the World Chess Hall of Fame. The winner will receive a

$10,000 cash prize.

Chess grand master Maurice Ashley is on board with the idea. “The creative aspect of

this project makes it fun, but the practicality and functionality of the designs will be


Designer Audra Danielle Noyes of the firm Audra is paired with Ashley. “My design

focuses on fusing classic luxury men’s wear fabrics with athletic materials and or

details,” said Noyes. Unlike the stereotype of a professional chess player, “Maurice

pushes the boundaries with his personal style,” said Noyes. “He always looks polished

and refined, yet he takes risks. He doesn’t mind a slightly party outfit.”

Speaking of the practical needs, “Chess players perspire a ton when they are sitting

there,” said Susan Sherman, chairperson of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, which supports

the incubator and works to bring back small batch production to the city’s once teeming

garment district. She sees light fabrics, as well as elbow pads, as integral to the chess


“The designers and the chess masters have been Skyping, communicating by phone and a

couple of our designers have even learned to play chess,” Sherman said.

“The grand masters have informed them what’s needed — something functional and

visual. This is serious stuff. You can use style to your advantage — to intimidate your


“It’s not exactly an action, contact sport but it’s highly stressful, so designing for chess is

about comfort and breathable fabrics and a lot of these professional players want to look

sharp,” said Timo Weiland, the New York-based designer and creative director, and

judge for the contest.

Other emerging designers of the incubator, which provides stipends, free studio space,

sales support and mentors in a two-year residency, are Agnes Hamerlik, Allison Mitchell,

Charles Smith 2nd, Reuben Reuel and Emily Brady Koplar. They’re paired with grand

masters Alejandro Ramírez, Fabiano Caruana, Cristian Chirila, Nazí Paikidze-Barnes and

Jennifer Shahade, respectively.

Aside from Weiland, the judges are Dr. Hazel Clark, research chair of fashion and

professor of design and fashion studies at Parsons School of Design; Macy’s director of

global forecasting Abbey Samet; St. Louis Post-Dispatch fashion editor Debra Bass, and

chess grand master Eric Hansen.


Joanna WolffWWD