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Local designer Lorenzo Buffa destroys the Kickstarter campaign to fund Analog Watch Co.

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Hypothetical scenario: Dude you’re on a first date with picks you up at your door; you walk over to a nearby restaurant and sit down at the table, and then you see his watch. It’s a metallic number, chunky and thick, with visible gears and ostentatious detailing on its face. Now, hold on: Let’s imagine this guy–he’s six feet tall, dressed well enough (button-down, well-fit denim, inoffensive shoes) and has obviously made a good enough impression to win a date with you. But he seems to be quite fond of his timepiece, stretching on occasion to make sure his watch is visible beyond his cuff and holding his hands together in a manner that puts his wrist on display.

“Was that your dad’s watch or something?” you inquire.

“No,” he guffaws, “I bought this. It’s a Hublot.”

“What’s that?” you ask.

“Oh, it’s a luxury brand. Haven’t you heard that Watch the Throne song, “Otis”?”

“No,” you confess.

What he doesn’t know is that you detest showy displays of income, wholesale buy-ins to maleness and co-opting pop star fashion for your own.

Busted.

That wouldn’t happen with an Analog Watch Co. watch for a number of reasons. While watches made of wood aren’t completely unheard of (you can find them at Kembrel, on sale, while the Chestnut Street pop-up’s still open), Lorenzo Buffa is a Philadelphia designer and founder of AWC who’s launched and already crushed a Kickstarter goal to fund the production of soft, flexible wooden watches that are gender neutral and make a statement that’s not “I have money and taste.” In fact, a wooden watch might suggest the wearer’s a little more on the crunchy, urban hippie, eco-conscious and nature-loving tip.

On Oct. 11, Buffa launched a $10k-goaled Kickstarter push, and, at the time of this writing (10/21 @ noon), he and AWC have 333 backers with over $31,000 pledged and 20 days left in the campaign. Not bad at all. And, to his credit, Buffa’s a queer kid who’s propelled himself him into now-thriving watch designer status and a Kickstarter success story.

AWC4“If it wasn’t for navigating the challenges of being a marginalized individual, I don’t think I would be who or where I am today,” he told PW. “Those hard times only give me strength and compulsion to push myself more.” And push himself he did. For months he designed, prototyped, contacted and initiated relationships with manufacturers, studied other campaigns and prepared a marketing effort for his brand. “We spent months working on a strategy for launching on Kickstarter,” he says. “I gauged how well the project would fit in, and fortunately, it’s exceeded expectations.”

Looks like Buffa’s poised to be swimming in wristwear—taking orders, plus creating, marketing and shipping them—and he’s not mad. The U Arts Industrial Design alum’s background is pretty varied, but he sees a lot of potential in watches, much more so than just a way to tell time. “Watches today are much more about expressing one’s identity. They are symbols of status, ideals, class, etc.,” Buffa asserts. When questioned on whether or not he was ready to be the watch man, he seemed resolved: “I’m going to settle in and work on watches for now. This is just the beginning.”

AWC2The Carpenter Collection uses soft wood, leather and minimalistic design elements (no numbers, lines or figures – it’s Analog, get it?) to achieve a pretty sophisticated blend of aesthetic elements for 2013. Because he wanted to appeal to a wide audience—and, in all likelihood because he’s a talented queer—these watches are slim, chicly simplified and refined in their design. And there’s still time to get in on the Kickstarter project. There are only 10 left of the 200 spots to opt in at $85, but 97 of 100 spots are left to get yours for $95.

Kickstarter’s obviously no joke. There’s lots of build-up towards a campaign and lots of worry over how it’ll unfold if and when your campaign’s funded; Buffa gets the green light on Nov. 10th. Is he ready for the deluge? “Absolutely,” he says. “This has been over a year in the making. Months have been spent building relationships with all the parties involved [and] in bringing a product to production.” There’s magic in that Kickstarter, too, helping all kinds of creatives achieve things never believed possible.

Buffa put it perfectly: “There is an amazing tool at our disposal: the Internet and computer. You can do anything. Anything. It’s created a new era for makers, designers, and how small businesses grow in ways it never could have 20 years ago.”



Dita Von Teese brings “Strip Strip Hooray” to the Tower this week

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Betty Grable. Sahji Pearl. Jane Russell. Lili St. Cyr. These names elicit visions of what glamour used to look like, from a time when lingerie was more than just seductive nighttime attire. While an assortment of gorgeous dolls (and drag queens) do their best to uphold that classic vibe, no one manages to illustrate or embody the beauty of burlesque like Dita Von Teese.

The former Mrs. Marilyn Manson credits her mother for her infatuation with vintage 1940s glam. That fascination with elegant hosiery and intricate undergarments together with childhood ballet training fueled Von Teese’s ascension as the modern queen of burlesque, famous worldwide for her stunning curves and elaborate shows. But the smoldering starlet stresses that glamour is undefinable, declaring that every size and shape can be glamorous, even on a thrift-store budget. (”I was making minimum wage when I first started doing burlesque,” she notes.) The best way to develop that allure, she says, is to find what makes you comfortable, embellish upon your best features and, most importantly, dare to be different.

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Need a lesson or some quickie inspiration, sexy sisters? For the first time ever, Von Teese has taken her 90-minute spectacle, Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray!, on the road; in fact, it’s already here. And fellas, be braced: An increasing number of women have been in attendance on the tour, Von Teese says—“embracing their own level of empowerment.”

The performer isn’t only bringing her show to her common-folk fans, but bringing more of it: Her previous gigs usually featured two acts, whereas Strip Strip Hooray! boasts four elaborate sets by Von Teese herself, plus a number of additional performers. Also, it’s important to note that Von Teese does her own hair and make-up and also designs her own costumes—a huge deal in the entertainment styling world. Garments intricately studded with Swavorski crystals are sure to be among the special on-stage features sure to dazzle attendees. The others, it’s safe to say, have precious little to do with stagewear.

Oct. 9. 7:30pm. The Tower Theater, 19 S. 69th St, Upper Darby.



The Barrymore Awards are back and better than ever

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Back in February, over 950 local theater artists, educators, donors, arts administrators and audience members weighed in via survey whether The Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, the annual award ceremony recognizing the achievements of the most deserving theater companies, actors, artists and productions in the region, should be revived.

For those who don’t know, the ceremony was canceled after 18 years when the presenting organization, the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, went under in 2012. Hardly shocking, nearly 90 percent of the survey respondents agreed that the show must go on. The more shocking piece of news is that their wish has been officially granted.

During a town hall meeting at the Walnut Street Theatre late yesterday afternoon, Theatre Philadelphia, the coalition formed after the Theatre Alliance’s demise, announced that not only will the Barrymores be returning for the 2013-2014 season, but they’ll be accompanied by a new, more manageable voting system.

“The Board of Theatre Philadelphia wholeheartedly agreed with the results of the community survey and is eager to bring back an event that celebrates the excellence of the work created here,” said Theatre Philadelphia Board President Kevin Glaccum in a statement.

Per the revised voting system, judges will now only be required to see 50-60 productions each season, as opposed to the previous 90-100 shows, thus allowing more theater professionals to serve. In addition, creating more of a consensus vote rather than a cut and dry “most points wins” approach, judges will now meet quarterly to discuss the shows they’ve seen and what they did or didn’t like.

Makes sense to me. You wouldn’t want the members of a jury to deliberate the facts of a trial alone, would ya? These are some pretty prestigious awards at stake. Plus, this announcement isn’t just good news for a few lone shining stars. The Barrymores are a celebration of Philadelphia’s top-notch and ever-growing theater community as a whole. And we’ve got some really amazing talent here.



Photos: Drexel’s Annual Senior Fashion Show

On Saturday, friends, family, educators and fashion enthusiasts packed into the Urban Outfitters Corporate Headquarters at The Navy Yard for Drexel’s Annual Senior Fashion Show, presented by the Fashion Design & Design & Merchandising programs in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

As always, the show presented select garments from its sophomore, junior and graduate fashion design students, as well as the collections of 24 graduating student designers, many of whom have received awards for their work.

This was my second year attending the event, and I must say, it continues to be one of the most enjoyable fashion presentations I’ve seen in this city. This has as much to do with the level of featured talent as it does with the array of apparel categories showcased, including evening wear, men’s and women’s sportswear, lingerie, bridal, swimwear and best of all, children’s wear.

If there’s one thing I could say about the show as a whole, it’s how impressed and surprised I was to find that many of the designers constructed their looks from head to toe, making their own jewelry, accessories, prints and various accents.

Here are a few of the many noteworthy creations that came down the runway:



Father’s Day Gift Guide: Under $50

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Triple C Designs iSolar Backup Battery in Bamboo, $34.95 / Scarlett Alley (241 Race St.)

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Rocky Statue Tee (Black/Gold), $22 / Aphillyated.com

three_potato_four_ARROW_SIGNS

Camp Arrow Signs, $48 / Three Potato Four (376 Shurs Ln., Bldg. A)

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Old Time Shave Set, $30 / Duross & Langel (117 S. 13th St.)

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Robo Tea Infuser, $10 / SWAG Boutique (935 N. Second St.)

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1canoe2 Letterpress Presidential Drinking Glasses (set of 4), $48 / Occasionette (1825 E. Passyunk Ave.)

CST_VetStad

Veteran’s Stadium Tee, $20 / Cheesesteak Tees (506 South St.)

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Map Hip Flask, $26.99 / Hello World (257 S. 20th St.)

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Circuit Board Photo Frame, $24 / Ten Thousand Villages (1122 Walnut St. & 8331 Germantown Ave.)



Photos: Wizard World 2013 Philly Comic Con

If you were within a 30 block radius of the Pennsylvania Convention Center at any point this weekend, chances are, you encountered some pretty interesting characters out on the street. There’s an even better chance that you were one of those characters and you were on your way to or from Wizard World’s annual Philadelphia Comic Con. Either way, here’s just a few of the many memorable sights the four-day event packed. And when I say many, I do mean many.



A pop-up mobile beer garden comes to Broad Street

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Philthadelphia has just gotten a little less filthy and a whole lot greener.

Now officially open along the Avenue of the Arts, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s third annual Pop Up Garden extends from the terraces of UArts’ Dorrance Hamilton Hall to the university-owned lot just across the street (313 S. Broad St.), transforming the space into part lush garden, part mobile beer garden.

That’s right, consider the garden the newest and nicest happy hour spot in town. Sitting on a large custom-built bench under a canopy amid twinkling lights, guests can enjoy local craft beers, sangria and root beer, which will be on tap every evening now through mid-October and served alongside a selection of grab-and-go locally sourced fare. In addition to fresh fruit, salads and veggies with hummus, the menu will feature several all-natural hot sandwiches, including slow-roasted pork belly with mustard slaw and vegan chorizo sloppy Joes.

Meanwhile, the elevated lawn area at the entrance of the lot features a bountiful garden of annuals and perennials in pink and purple tones, intricate “cardinal climber” vines and exotic tropical plants, all accented with a smokehouse structure from the 2013 Flower Show. Stop by during select afternoon hours, and you also might just be able to catch a live performance by UArts undergrad and graduate students or a special art installation.



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