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by Katherine Campbell, Schukll Punch
In writing my synopsis of Philadelphia Fashion Week, I had two choices: I could be your typical hipster-elitist that isn’t satisfied with anything or I could applaud Philadelphia for throwing its hat in the ring. As a future Buddhist, an eternal optimist and a current drunk, I’m taking the positive route. Philadelphia is not Paris/Milan/London/New York. Hell, its not even LA or Miami Fashion Week. But Philadelphia has a certain je ne sais quoi, and why not put it on display. Although my experience with Fashion Week is quite limited (does walking around outside the Bryant Park tents count as me going to NY Fashion Week?), I’m going to go out on a limb anyway. I’ve decided to use the “compliment sandwich” approach which Stewie crafted this on an episode of “Family Guy”. The goal is to begin with praise, sneak in some criticism and then round it out with hearty pat on the back.
Philadelphia Fashion Week was not only a showcase for more established designers, but spotlighted students as well. Collections from students attending Moore College, Philadelphia University, and The Art Institute opened each night of the show and culminated with the winner of the Student Design Award on Saturday night. These talented students were given an opportunity to expose themselves to a wider audience outside of conventional student fashion shows. Not only were area students on display, but area DJs got to spin for the house. Local DJs were given sets between the runway shows; standouts were DJ Tiny Pants (he’s extremely animated) and DJ Phsh. The sets provided a great opportunity for me to grab a refill at the Fuze sponsored open bar.
Event planners chose to abandon using a traditional linear runway. They opted for a diamond shaped runway with VIP seats inside the diamond and additional seating on the outside. This not only increased the model’s walk time (and the show), but you also had to walk over the stage to get to VIP seating. This set-up also blocked the view of the stage for anyone who was seated on both sides of the runway. This became especially problematic during the sets of artists like This Is A Shakedown and Tu-Phace. I was forced to solely listen to This Is A Shakedown because my options were to look at a giant, black curtain, or the backs of an awkward, middle aged couple’s heads. This created a disconnect between the audience and the performers. While they were adequate entertainment, they were entirely too loud (the acoustics maybe) and utilized too much cowbell; which is unfortunate because after Will Ferrell, I was not aware that you could ever have too much cowbell. Additionally, at times I had to refer to the show schedule because there was no segue between DJ sets and the beginning of a fashion show – models would just magically appear from behind the curtain. Perhaps next year they can make use of the flat screens to announce which designer is being shown. My last bone to pick is who decided that Fuze and alcohol go together? Kettle One and Fuze equals disaster. That’s the kind of cocktail you made in college after you checked the fridge and noticed your only other option was vodka and Hellman’s mayonnaise.
Matthew Izzo, among others, operated pop-up boutiques during the three day event. Making use of the idle hands and fat wallets of the attendees, I thought it was a great addition to the shows. Designers benefited from piquing the interests of potential customers with the fashion show and having merchandise readily available in the pop-up boutiques. Finally, one thing I must applaud is making fashion accessible to nearly anyone. While most fashion weeks are invite only events open to celebs/the fashion elite/the wealthy, Philly Fashion Week offered reduced fees for students and free entrance for members of the press (Yes, I, a lowly blogger, applied and was given a press pass). If you were neither of the aforementioned, you could pay $75 per day or $150 for all three days. While these prices are steep in the face of The Great Recession, it was a step forward.
Here is some video footage from the show: