Phila U. students flaunt high fashion at annual showcase

The first thing to know is that there was screaming – lots of high-pitched shrieks, and thunderous applause to follow. These were the sounds of validation for the 70 or so fashion design seniors at Philadelphia University, whose final collections were showcased on the runway in the packed Academy of Music building in Center City for the annual “Evening of Innovation” Saturday.

Earlier in the night, menswear entrepreneur John Varvatos implored the fashion design students to make some noise in the midst of his acceptance speech for receiving the “Spirit of Innovation” award from Philadelphia University.

“Let’s hear you raise the room off this place,” Varvatos said. “This is all about you tonight.” Once again, the students in the audience answered with a deafening chorus of giddy shrieks. It was a sound that would repeat itself more and more once the runway show took off.

Brittany West, a 22-year-old senior and Colorado native, infused aesthetics from the Civil War, Brazil’s Carnaval and the story of “The Ugly Duckling” into her women’s clothing and swimwear line.

“The ugly duckling is very personal to me because as a teenager I felt like an ugly duckling,” said West. “I’m actually a swan, so I think it’s everything a bride should feel on her wedding day.”

West says she felt compelled to pursue a career in women’s clothing design to improve women’s perception of body image.

“I noticed all the problems arising from fashion, for how women were portraying themselves in the media,” West says. “Ever since then I’ve always wanted to change that view by making clothes to help promote self-esteem.”

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