GAYDAR EXTRA: A ‘Big Time’ At Valanni


AaronAvatar_1.jpgBY AARON STELLA GAYDAR EDITOR Never would I have thought that Valanni with its skinny little waist could birth such a heifer of an event as “Big Time” fashion show, but such was the case Thursday night. Designers from around Philadelphia showcased their reinventions of chestnut fashions from the ’80s, from the big hot pink hair, to the clunky jewelry, right down to the pastel spandex. Emceeing the event was interior-design debutante Brini Maxwell, bringing yet another lustrous layer of chic to the homage to retro. Well-wishers, admirers and fashion enthusiasts arrived in droves, dressed to the nines and pack in from wall to wall. Even curious University of the Arts students thronged across the street in their own mock-dance parties, complementing from afar the already gushing festivities. Considering that Valanni’s hull was already threatened to breach, what with the brimming crowds, it seemed appropriate that a stage had been installed outside Valanni’s front window, which functioned as a platform for prancing fly girls.

Once Maxwell assumed position on a tiny stool overlooking the teeming mob outside Valanni, the models began to saunter out in the finest of threads. For each wave of models, a different feature of the body beautiful was showcased: torso outfits, shoes, hair, and jewelry. For me, it was the bold stylings of Jimmy Contreras, owner of Kimberly Boutique, that made a lasting impression. Maxwell’s emceeing also added a unique element. I want to say that I respect someone who invests into refining their persona; and Maxwell is a prime example. With the domesticated features of Donna Reed, and the home design prowess of Martha, and perhaps even a little spunk of Mary Tyler Moore, Maxwell’s demeanor exudes the comfort of plush while bounded up in poise that seems natural rather that rigid and formulaic.

Maxwell herself also has a new line of home design called “Felix Populi” (“Happy People” in Latin). She says, “While some people want their homes to look like museums—which is fine—I believe that a home can be beautiful and welcoming…and that’s what I aim for in my designs.” Although Maxwell’s television career has been put on hold at the moment, she’s planning to be back on the air soon enough. Matt Vlahos, proprietor of Valanni, couldn’t have asked for a better turnout. From the dangling cassette tapes hung from the ceiling, to “Miami Vice” playing on a projection screen TV in the back room, Valanni’s fall fashion show kept it classy and sassy, with plenty of flare to keep you coming back for more. Until next time…

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