STYLE COUNCIL: Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design Annual Fashion Show

[Photos by SOCHEATH SUN]

Rebecca_Goodacre_Avatar.jpgBY REBECCA GOODACRE On Saturday night Philadelphia’s Naval Yard played host to probably the most glamorous matriculating class in the city when Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design mounted its annual Fashion Show celebrating the work of its most recent graduates.  With an international reputation and a forward-thinking, interdisciplinary approach to design, Drexel Fashion School produces undergrad and graduate collections of undeniable originality and flavor. The fashion show was stage at Urban Outfitters’ Corporate Headquarters and the contemporary décor and design of the building was the perfect backdrop to the several hundred meticulously dressed attendees, as well as the equally nattily-attired designers and faculty. Over 30 collections of designs were shown, with awards from top names such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Neiman Marcus and Joan Shepp for the best designs and craftsmanship.  Each designer offered their own unique visions, drawing from inspiration as widely ranging as the music of Miles Davis to the rural countryside of India and Morocco.

The most obviously influenced was the collection produced by Senior Lauren Mukalian, who cited the marriage of Lady Seymour Dorothy Fleming and Sir Richard Worsely as her muse.  It was a marriage that involved dozens of extra-marital lovers, illegitimate children and STDs, and although a story worthy of Days of Our Lives, Mukalian created a series of pieces with dramatic elegance  perfectly suited to the 18th Century high society scandal.  Her designs had a decidedly theatrical quality, with each of her models donning a wool woven Georgian style wig.  A touch which won her the Neiman Marcus Award for Overall Excellence in Accessory Design. Another designer of note was Harrison Johnson, who won both the award for Best Menswear Design, as well as the Nicole Miller award for Excellence in Design.  Johnson produced a geometric collection inspired by the origami “Magic Ball,” displaying perfectly the interdisciplinary nature of fashion between art and technology.  As he explained it, “the simple repetitive geometry involved in its designs informs everything in the collection,” an effect clearly seen in his pieces, which veered away from ready-to-wear into couture, and explicitly displayed in his face covering mask.

However, the offerings by the Drexel students were not entirely devoted to high fashion.  Jessica Kehoe produced a range of plus size clothing, as well as two lingerie pieces.  “Through line, form and structure” she aimed to achieve “body-flattering silhouettes,” something she accomplished with her silver-and-purple-patterned tunic. The show also featured collections of childrenswear designs from Dani Kaminski, Sam Gebhard and Samantha Stein.  Stein’s collection was awarded the Destination Maternity prize for Most Saleable Senior Collection and Best Childrenswear Design and featured quirky pieces, almost making fancy dress into casual children’s daywear For all the precision executed in the clothing of the designers, and the guests, the atmosphere was less The Devil Wears Prada coldness and more happy ending of a Disney movie warmth.  The industry stereotype of ice-bitch fashionistas was nowhere to be seen, with a feeling of camaraderie prevailing over ruthless competitiveness. The takeaway? This season, nice is back in style.

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