PhilaU Students Dazzle and Stun the Runway at Annual Fashion Show

Photos courtesy of Jason Minick and Philadelphia University.

“This is the biggest night of the year for our fashion design students,” Sheila Connelly, fashion design program director, told the energetic crowd of 1,100 people.

The sold-out show, produced by PhilaU’s Fashion Industries Association, featured a record 420-plus head-to-toe collaborations among fashion design, textile design, graphic design and industrial design students. “The richness added to our collections by incorporating custom textile designs is something uniquely and proudly a Philadelphia University signature learning experience,” Connelly said.

PhilaU President Stephen Spinelli Jr. said the University’s approach to learning, faculty expertise and success of its students have led the highly regarded Business of Fashion to name PhilaU among the top fashion programs globally. “Tonight, you will see the ambition, the potential for making a better world through our human-centered, design thinking focus,” he said.

Maria Balestino received the Fashion Industries Association Award for Best Senior Collection with “Weathered Nomad.” This group blended together geometric Berber tile motifs and jewelry with the sleek clean lines of the region’s modern architecture. It combined the traditional with the contemporary and brings handcrafted details into the 21st century. This collection was a collaboration with textile design graduate student Rachel Snack, senior textile materials technology student Jessica Newman and senior industrial design student Louise Sandstroem.

The Fashion Industries Association Award for Best in Show went to senior Madison Chamberlain’s “Parisian Boheme” collection. Inspired by a group of eccentric struggling artists in the late 19th century, this collection of luxurious silhouettes and colors tells the story of their eclectic lifestyles and the artwork they created. This collection was a collaboration with graduate textile design student Becky Flax.

Senior Micah Ohno earned the Mike Ternosky Obey Award for Most Creative Collection. “Art Medicine” celebrates the work of outsider artists Yayoi Kusama and Luis Wain who create artwork as an outlet for their mental illness by using vibrant, psychedelic color, print and texture. This collection was a collaboration with graduate textile design students Becky Flax and Zarinah Nuri, graduate industrial
design student Valerie Gibbins, graduate surface imaging student Saeidah Galani and junior textile design student Erin Cartwright.

The Victorian’s love of opulent silk fabrics and the honeybee provided inspiration to senior Jonathan Cantu’s eveningwear collection that used embroidery, velvet and other luxe details. His collaboration with senior textile design student Alyssa Yanni received the Award for Excellence in an Eveningwear or Bridal Collection and was funded by the Eileen Martinson ’86 Fund for the Undergraduate Capstone Experience.