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Emerging Designer: "Go Big or Go Home"

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    Go big or go home. Azeeza Desai talks about launching her first clothing line among during one of the biggest fashion stage events in the world. (Published Thursday, Sep 15, 2011)

    Many clothing designers have the talent, but struggle to master the business side.

    But Chicago's Azeeza Desai is approaching her clothing company from the other end of the equation. She's a consumer marketing specialist by day who's previously worked with local designers and businesses, but this week she'll unveil her passion project -- Monarch, S/S 2012 -- the first collection from her newly-formed company Atelier AZZA.

    But it's far from a quiet launch. Desai is unveiling the line on a Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week catwalk.

    "I'm thankful for such an opportunity, but at the same time there's definitely a lot of pressure to deliver," Desai says. "As an emerging designer, I'm showing my collection with some really high-end names, so there's definitely some anxiety and nervousness, but in terms of doing it big, I say go big or go home -- it's really my motto. Either do it right or don't do it at all."

    Desai will be showing her collection alongside established jewelry and accessories designer Ranjana Khan, a strategic move that helps her credibility as a new face on the scene.

    She's also managed to work her way onto the red carpet at this month's Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles where she'll don one of the dresses from her collection. And after hopefully generating buzz on both coasts, she'll unveil the line locally during Fashion Focus Chicago in October.

    It's an approach Desai planned while working on the marketing side with brands like popular English shoe company Kandee.

    "I've gotten immersed into the business side of fashion, just being a personal hobby, and that kind of planted the seed for design and getting back into it -- working with these designers and seeing the process on the back end and just kind of taking notes during the process," Khan says.

    "My name is on here and my brand is on here, so to me, that's the most important thing -- to make sure I deliver on my own personal standards."