With inspirations ranging from struggling artists in the 19th century, to the juxtaposition of war and peace, to ancient Mayan culture, the works of 127 student designers dazzled the runway April 27 for Philadelphia University’s annual Fashion Show at the Moulin at Sherman Mills.
“This is the biggest night of the year for our fashion design students,” Sheila Connelly, director of the fashion design program, told the energetic crowd of 1,100 people.
The sold-out show, produced by PhilaU’s Fashion Industries Association and its president, senior fashion merchandising and management student, Brigid Corcoran ’17, featured a record 420-plus head-to-toe collaborations among fashion design, textile design, graphic design and industrial design students. “The richness added to our collections by incorporating custom textile designs is something uniquely and proudly a Philadelphia University signature learning experience,” Connelly said.
PhilaU President Stephen Spinelli Jr. said the University’s approach to learning, faculty expertise and success of its students have led the highly regarded Business of Fashion to name PhilaU among the top fashion programs globally.
“Tonight, you will see the ambition, the potential for making a better world through our human-centered, design thinking focus,” he said. “That process requires acute thinking and skills and a deep sense of empathy.”
Fashion celebrity Carson Kressley H’13, honorary chair and PhilaU trustee, called the students inspiring, especially since they participate in the entire process of creating a collection, from designing the prints, to making the fabrics, to even producing the show.
“They’re really getting a fantastic education in the entire world of fashion, which is so broad,” he said to PhilaU faculty, staff, trustees and students, plus representatives from Thomas Jefferson University, employers, media, area fashionistas and proud family and friends in attendance.
Over the course of two hours, the wowed audience saw a wide variety of women’s, men’s and children’s looks, with NBC10’s Bill Henley serving as emcee and NBC10’s Katy Zachry providing commentary for the stunning pieces.
Maria Balestino received the Fashion Industries Association Award for Best Senior Collection with “Weathered Nomad.” (See full award list below.) This group blended together geometric Berber tile motifs and jewelry with the sleek clean lines of the region’s modern architecture. It combined the traditional with the contemporary and brings handcrafted details into the 21st century. This collection was a collaboration with textile design graduate student Rachel Snack, senior textile materials technology student Jessica Newman and senior industrial design student Louise Sandstroem.
The Fashion Industries Association Award for Best in Show went to senior Madison Chamberlain’s “Parisian Boheme” collection. Inspired by a group of eccentric struggling artists in the late 19th century, this collection of luxurious silhouettes and colors tells the story of their eclectic lifestyles and the artwork they created. This collection was a collaboration with graduate textile design student Becky Flax.
Senior Micah Ohno earned the Mike Ternosky Obey Award for Most Creative Collection. “Art Medicine” celebrates the work of outsider artists Yayoi Kusama and Luis Wain who create artwork as an outlet for their mental illness by using vibrant, psychedelic color, print and texture. This collection was a collaboration with graduate textile design students Becky Flax and Zarinah Nuri, graduate industrial design student Valerie Gibbins, graduate surface imaging student Saeidah Galani and junior textile design student Erin Cartwright.
The Victorian’s love of opulent silk fabrics and the honeybee provided inspiration to senior Jonathan Cantu’s eveningwear collection that used embroidery, velvet and other luxe details. A collaboration with senior textile design student Alyssa Yanni, “The Era of Velvet” received the Award for Excellence in an Eveningwear or Bridal Collection and was funded by the Eileen Martinson ’86 Fund for the Undergraduate Capstone Experience.
The PhilaU Fashion Show also honored two prestigious members of the fashion community. Wendy West Santana ’83, executive vice president for Li & Fung USA/Oxford Collections, received the Inaugural Alumni Award for Leadership in the Fashion Industry. Earning her degree in apparel management, Santana was instrumental in launching the designer collaboration business model for Target, and since then, she has worked with more than 50 designers on their limited partnership collections, including Zac Posen, Jason Wu and, most recently, Victoria Beckham.
“This is by far the most exciting time to be part of this industry,” Santana said. “With all the advances in technology and changes in the retail landscape, I know one of you will change design as we know it today.”
The Philadelphia University Spirit of Design Award, a distinction given to an individual who has had significant influence on design and design education, went to Daniela Kamiliotis, an internationally acclaimed designer and mixed media artist. As senior vice president of design for women’s collection at Ralph Lauren for the last two decades, she has applied her distinctive sense of art and design and has been a force of inspiration to one of America’s iconic designers. Past award winners included Tommy Hilfiger, Geoffrey Beane, Francisco Costa, Mary McFadden, Jay McCarroll, Nicole Miller, Mike Ternosky of Obey and John Varvatos.
“Making that dream a tangible, three-dimension reality is possible, if you only persevere in your passion and beliefs,” Kamiliotis urged the designers. “I guarantee if you follow your passion, the end result will be well worth it.”
Student winners at the 2017 Annual Fashion Show included:
AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
In an Eveningwear or Bridal Collection: Jonathan Cantu
CARSON KRESSLEY AWARD
Most Ready for Retail: Julia Pogue
COATES BROTHERS CLOTHING AWARD
Excellence in Workmanship and Quality/Senior Collection: Maria Balestino
COLLECTION XIIX AWARD
Collaborative Textile Design for Womenswear: Tae’lor Lambert, Becky Flax and Soumya Mohanty
DESTINATION MATERNITY AWARD
Design Excellence in a Sportswear Collection: Vivian Cooper
DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARD
In Performance Apparel: Ashlee Bowers
FASHION DESIGN FACULTY AWARD
Excellence in Design: Arleny Corona
FASHION INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Best of Show: Madison Chamberlain
Best Senior Collection: Maria Balestino
Best Senior Collection–Honorable Mention: Madison Chamberlain
JOAN CALABRESE AWARD
Excellence in Childrenswear: Vanessa Fath
MIKE TERNOSKY OBEY AWARD
For Most Creative Collection: Micah Ohno
N.A.M.S.B. FOUNDATION AWARD INC.
Joseph Klein Award for Excellence in Menswear Design: Huyen Doan
NEXUS LEARNING AWARD
A Collaborative Design Initiative: Maria Leigh Palantino and Regan Marriner
NICHOLAS LOUIS PALUMBO AWARD
Outstanding Design by a Junior Fashion Design Student: Keren Espina
SCHOOL OF DESIGN AND ENGINEERING AWARD
Outstanding Senior Design Student: Amie Dews
THE WOOLMARK COMPANY AWARD
For Student Innovation: Maria Leigh Palantino and Regan Marriner
UNITED FABRICS AWARD
Original Jacquard Textile Design: Oluwabusola Duroshola
PhilaU received the following sponsorships for the Fashion Show:
STUDENT TICKET SPONSORS
Felicia Baylor Parrott
Collection XIIX, Drew Pizzo
Fashion Design Faculty
Fashion Industries Association
N.A.M.S.B. Foundation Inc.
The Woolmark Company, Angela Domsitz
United Fabrics, Scott Warwick
Click below for more photos from the PhilaU Fashion Show.