‘Nova alum runs first Philly fashion week

Tania Jachens

Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

These wise words come from one of fashion’s greatest icons, yet so many designers fail to acknowledge them. Many have, unfortunately, lost sight of their own roots and upbringing as modes of inspiration.

However, all of this is about to change with the first annual Philadelphia Fashion Week.

This high-end, environmentally green event will blend contemporary brands, independent and student designs and street wear labels from Philadelphia and around the globe for three days of runway shows, concert performances and shopping.

The director of public relations for this ambitious event is none other than Kristen Insalaco, a Villanova alumna and currently the marketing communications head for Villanova alumni.

“Villanova taught me everything I know,” she says. “I’m a Wildcat for life.” She began her work as a publicist and became involved with this project in

April 2009, though the idea had been in the works for over a year.

Looking back, Insalaco says that she owes a lot to the professors she had while at Villanova, including Vince Powers, who taught her introductory public relations course. Powers also served as her mentor during her college internship.

After graduation, Insalaco coincidentally bumped into Powers as he was starting his own public relations company. He hired her as his first employee, and she worked for him for over four years.

Though she left to start her own consulting business for Philadelphia, Insalaco stayed in touch with Powers and says, “I would never be in PR if it wasn’t for him.”

All of this experience is certainly helpful as Insalaco orchestrates this event, with hopes of building on the idea of New York City’s Fashion Week, but also improving it.

While New York City’s Fashion Week has become highly exclusive and almost inaccessible for the common person, everyone is invited to Philly’s Fashion Week and $35 per day, full-access student tickets can be purchased online.

Philadelphia’s Fashion Week is mostly for entertainment purposes and will showcase clothes for the spring and summer season of 2010. It will also feature styles for the 2009 holiday season, in a push to appeal to retail stores.

This is unlike New York City’s shows, which are mostly geared toward industry peers and only showcase the next season’s clothing.

For all the “Project Runway” fans, another unique aspect of Philly’s Fashion Week is that students from The Art Institute, Philadelphia University and Moore College of Art & Design will also be showing their original creations on the runways.

In staying true to their roots, the main criteria when choosing designers for the 16 runway shows was for the designs to represent what is worn, sold and made in Philadelphia.

All of the student designers were hand-picked by professors and will compete for a student design award and a prize which includes a display of his or her clothes in Center City’s Macy’s store.

Equally exciting are the 12 pop-up boutiques which will be open for shopping pleasure all week. These temporary stores will be completed with their own art, decorations and racks as desired by the designer.

For example, Delicious, a brand known for its beautiful corsets, will have a runway show, but it will also have a boutique that resembles the actual store decorated in the style of an old-school carnival.

In addition to getting your daily dose of fashion shows and shopping, there will be plenty of music to enjoy.

Several up and coming artists, like Black Landlord, Tu Phace (a protégé of The Roots) and The Hustle, will perform, along with different DJs and celebrity MCs every night. Only people 21 years of age and older are allowed to attend this year’s Philadelphia Fashion Week because, in addition to light hors d’oeuvres from some of the city’s best chefs, there will be an open bar.

Insalaco hopes that this new event will help give back to the retail community and make Philadelphia a prime shopping destination.

By supporting the art schools, it will hopefully encourage the students to remain in Philadelphia and open their stores here.

Most importantly, it supports Philadelphia’s plan to become the most sustainable and green city in the country by 2015, since the entire show will be produced in an eco-friendly manner.

Insalaco hopes that the event will expand next year to include people who are not just 21 and older, and that it will extend for an entire week, like New York City’s event.

An important detail to note is that Philadelphia’s Fashion Week is Oct. 8 -10, which, unfortunately, falls during Villanova’s fall break.

But if you are staying in the area, then check out the Web site for tickets and more information about the designers and artists performing.

Come and be a part of what will, hopefully, grow into a great annual event for the city.