Columnist Alexis Sachdev reviews Philadelphia Fashion Week and offers advice on how to incorporate the latest styles into an everyday look for less.
Nothing – except Leonardo DiCaprio’s luscious hair – makes my knees weaker or my heart flutter faster quite like fashion shows. Recognizing the danger zone I was entering for three days, I looked into purchasing an AED just in case.
Wednesday, Sept. 6 marked the first night of the second annual Philadelphia Fashion Week. Housed in the 18th century Armory at 22 S. 23rd St., the affair featured designers from Russia, Peru, the Middle East and of course, Philadelphia.
Before you fashionistas get your silk drawers in a bunch, allow me to explain. Philadelphia Fashion Week is nothing like fasion week at Bryant Park, with the exception of jaw-dropping designs and bumping beats. Instead of Karl Lagerfeld or Proenza Schouler, the clothes of more eclectic designers graced the runway with peacock headdresses and bunny ears.
Among the featured designers were Delicious, a boutique and corseterie in Northern Liberties, Ban Thor Phan, a global designing collective, Carmelita Couture, a boutique in Old City, and WeSC – WeAretheSuperlativeConspiracy – a well-known skate brand. These four designers stole the show with their eclectic, wearable and college age-appropriate designs.
Delicious’ design – a “dark and Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd” style – featured leather studded corsets, dresses and jackets for ladies. For men, the collection included raw-edged vests, leather biker boots and grundgy-glam slacks.
To incorporate Delicious’ designs in your wardrobe, head down to the boutique at 1040 N. American St. in Northern Liberties for the boutique’s deliciously dark designs. To slowly make the transition into this style, start with grey-or-black-tinted skinny jeans, preferably distressed. Pair those with lace-up boots, like Doc Martins, and a distressed leather jacket for a casual, cool style. For nights out, I recommend modest leather lace-up corsets and black skinny jeans for ladies, and structured leather jackets and slim slacks with a bold pattern for guys.
For inexpensive corsets and well-structured skinny jeans and slacks, I recommend H&M. Although Hot Topic has a reputation for gothic style, the store is great for accessories like fingerless gloves and boots meant for stomping the runway.
Ban Thor Phan falls very opposite to Delicious – most of the clothes are constructed of hemp, linen, cotton and other natural materials in earthy tones like oatmeal, brown, white and forest green. The line fused Aladdin-styled outfits with desert chic to showcase the importance of structure and shape in a neutral-colored world.
I don’t expect any of you to don a pair of linen pants and go barefoot in the dead of winter. However, I strongly encourage you to incorporate natural tones into your fall and winter wardrobes. On chilly October days, opt for a light khaki surplus jacket over a crisp white shirt, a scarf for a dash of color, dark jeans and simple shoes.
Ban Thor Phan’s clothing tends to run a bit pricy, but for good reason – all proceeds from sales benefits a program within the company that the owner, Kampanart Buahombora, started in 1985. Buahombora created a house for orphaned, HIV-infected or runaway children to safeguard them from human trafficking, drugs and gangs. The program runs entirely without donations and now houses about 55 children ranging in age from newborns to 18-year-olds.
While the program Ban Thor Phan runs is spectacular and inspiring, we all live on a relatively tight budget. However, if you’re philanthropic – and want to look stylish simultaneously – I recommend TOMS flat espadrilles that are available in a variety of colors and fabrics. TOMS operates on a one-for-one policy that for every pair of shoes sold in stores, the company will donate one pair to a child in need in a third-world country.
Now that we have your feet covered, the rest of your Ban Thor Phan ensemble can be put together on South Street. Many of the stores on this street are dedicated to the “hippie” lifestyle and offer cotton dresses, jackets, T-shirts and accessories in earth tone colors.
WeSC is a Swedish-based company that produces fun, indie skateboarding styles for men and women. Its line featured slim jeans with zippered details and fitted button-down plaid tee shirts in popping colors for men. For women, WeSC featured sweatshirt dresses, long cardigans and patterned leggings – all in bright colors.
To achieve the WeSC look, you can find the brand online or head to local boutiques for a similar, less-expensive brand called Obey. For fly feet, visit Ubiq at 1509 Walnut St. The store offers eclectic, street-style shoes with brands such as Vans, Nikes and Adidas.
Last, but furthest from least, was Carmelita Couture, a women’s-only company whose line this past weekend seemed to have drawn inspiration from Lady Gaga. Carmelita showcased bright gold high-wasted lamé shorts, peacock headdresses paired with black onesies, sequined rompers and gilded-and-studded sunglasses. Definitely worthy of Ms. Gaga’s style.
I will admit, Carmelita Couture is a bit over-the-top. If you have the confidence to wear the style, I highly recommend the look for going out. The boutique is located at 17 N. 3rd St., about a block from Penn’s Landing. Dresses start at $245 and increase steadily, and blouses start at $155. Don’t be discouraged though. There are many affordable alternatives to Carmelita’s self-proclaimed “fashion candy.”
For a glam going-out outfit, my go-to store is Smak Parlour at 219 Market St. in Olde City. The prices are significantly lower than Carmelita’s, but you won’t be sacrificing style. Another great option are the stores that line Chestnut Street, such as Eternity Fashion at 1522 Chestnut St. For a very small price, Eternity offers glam club wear, sky-high heels and statement jewelry.
So let’s review: For the rest of fall and the beginning of winter, opt for darker, mysterious styles for nighttime like Delicious. Incorporate natural colors and fabrics like Ban Thor Phan. Bring your outfit to life with bursts of neon like WeSC. And glam it up with styles similar to Carmelita Couture’s. No matter how tempting this might be, do not try to mix these looks together. It could either end really well, or you’ll end up looking like a train wreck. To avoid the latter, stick to one style at a time.
Alexis Sachdev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.