PFW: The College Collection
By Nathalie Cavallo
Photos by Will Stickney
The catwalk has a different energy today as people filed into their respective seats. The faces are younger, the style is more adventurous: a woman with hair half bleach blonde and half jet black in cobalt blue lipstick sits front-row. Anticipation hangs in the air, thick like fog.
Three judges sit at the end of the runway, pens and notebooks in hand. Mall-goers swarm the scene and peer down from the balcony of the other floors, unable to resist the sweet appeal of a fashion show competition.
The DJ’s voice, from behind the huge PFW screen, shakes the floor as he introduces the judges. But they aren’t the only critics in the house. A woman in glasses that cover her eyebrows and most of her cheeks takes her seat nearby. She sits arms crossed, with an icy stare that makes Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada” look like Mother Theresa.
Ashleen Castillo, a Moore College of Design and Art student, opens the show. Models display peach toned pieces with ruffles and cut outs, embellished with blue and white sewn on swirling designs. There’s a cohesive and modifiable theme to each piece, allowing for versatility. The crowd erupts as Castillo takes the stage: she’s a hard act to follow.
A model clad in a white knit top and white flare pants walks next, followed by a model in a white knit poncho and knee length skirt with a high slit. A maxi grey knit dress with a chiffon pattern is also a notable design for Drexel student, Priya Iyotishi.
Jamiah Douglas of Harcum College opens with three children’s designs, garnering lots of love from the audience. The kids each wear crowns, and one wears a yellow, blue, and pink colorblock vinyl sweatsuit. His jacket reads “love doesn’t hurt baby girl.”
Another Moore College of Art and Design student, Shoalyn Brown, wows the crowd with her multi-colored print bodysuit designs layered under sheer white boxy jackets, skirts, and pants with pieces of fabric that flow behind the models as they strut. Each model wears white socks over their heels or sneakers. The closing model bears a patterned bodysuit that covers her entire body, except for a black mesh square over her eyes for visibility.
Anna Zia’s, from Drexel University, style is a red, purple, and blue theme with subtle floral design.
Following Zia, Shaneika Hamilton of Moore College of Arts and Design sends models out in shaggy, knit turtleneck tops layered on top of loose-fitting clothing. The goal: shaggy-hobo-chic. The result: enough to evoke a tsk from the Devil-Wears-Glasses critic nearby. Hamilton wasn’t a hit among the judges either, who looked confused by most of the looks.
Drexel University’s Kieun Kwon’s simplistic and white style is refreshingly clean-cut, straight A-line pieces. A favorite look is a white, paper bag dress pant, paired with little tabs of fabric sewn to a boxy top.
Danielle Rice of Harcum College closed the Student Show with blue-red satin clothing with orange and yellow geometric shapes sewn on. The addition of shapes seems somewhat elementary and random, evoking a contradictory response from the crowd: some shake their head in confusion, while others nod approvingly.
The crowd sits restlessly as the judges exit the scene to decide a winner. Though some of the designs were questionable, there’s a murmur of approval for all the pieces and intricate detail involved in each collection.
Ashleen Castillo’s flowy orange and blue designs stole the hearts of the judges. The Puerto Rican designer leaves Wednesday night with a much-deserved first place, a $1,000 reward, and a feature for Spring/Summer 2020 New York Fashion Week.
The experience is inspiring, electric, and shines a bright light on the future of fashion for Philadelphia, and the world, as the up-and-coming designers relate their pieces to humanitarianism and sustainability with the use of recycled material.
As the models come out from their dressing rooms and the designers linger to accept congratulations, it’s apparent the goodbye exchanges are only temporary: the real talk of the night is what’s to come for Thursday’s streetwear event.