PHILADELPHIA — Jefferson, the officially combined Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University, held its 2018 Annual Fashion Show Thursday night, honoring American shoe designer Stuart Weitzman with the 2018 Spirit of Design Award. Previously awarded to John Varvatos, Nicole Miller, Tommy Hilfiger and Francisco Costa, the honor is presented to fashion luminaries who have made outstanding contributions to the fashion and design industry through innovation. Timberland vice president and 1997 alumna Kate Kibler was also on hand to receive the Alumni Award for Leadership in the Fashion Industry, where she ruminated on her evolution from sewing her first project to her pants to her role in building strategy and vision for a major brand.
Style pundit Carson Kressley, a Jefferson honorary chair and university trustee, kicked off the night in his usual cheeky style. “This is a serious show with a complicated runway. It’s like LaGuardia back there,” he quipped to the audience of more than 1,000 burgeoning student designers, parents, industry insiders and representatives from Free People, Urban Outfitters, Lilly Pulitzer and Li & Fung.
Philip Kodroff, a 1982 alumnus and former chief financial officer of Stuart Weitzman, accepted the award on behalf of his close friend who had to cancel his appearance due to a family emergency. “I graduated with a degree in accounting and I am in no way a fashion icon like Stuart,” said Kodroff, “but my education here has helped me work alongside Stuart for the past 25 years to build the Stuart Weitzman brand.” He discussed Weitzman’s drive to continuously innovate, resulting in his 50-50 Lycra-leather boot designed to accentuate women’s legs of all sizes. As for the secret sauce to his success? Kodroff opined that Weitzman “uses quality, interesting materials and always keeps things fresh and new,” stating that after every season they consistently dispose of 90 percent of the line.
After Kodroff accepted the award, the capstone fashion show followed, featuring more than 350 looks and 800 innovative garments created by design and textile students. A runway full of red gowns created for the American Heart Association’s Red Dress was a highlight, as were multiple student collections slated to be shown at New York Fashion Week at the Emerging Designers Collective runway show.
One such collection was the Carson Kressley Most Ready for Retail Award winner Kelsey Fickes’ Beauty in Decay collection of pieces ranging from a teal chiffon dress to a textured knit asymmetric shift inspired by the deterioration of Victorian manor homes. Other notable standouts include Yee Fang Ho’s Warrior collection of hand-painted textiles inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, which won the Mike Ternosky Obey Award for most creative collection, and Fashion Industries Association Best of Show winner, which went to Dalton Wade Reidenbach’s Bawdy Opulence collection, a sequined, brocade and ostrich feather-laden ode to the risqué fashions of the Twenties.