I first met Melissa D’Agostino a few years ago at an event for the National Association of Sustainable Fashion Design where my boyfriend and one of his partners screened a video they created about local and sustainable designers in Philly.
Our meeting and continued relationship with Melissa is a living example of the importance that we both place on local artists and communities. In fact, we’ll soon be working together again as I organize part of the upcoming DesignPhiladelphia opening party in October. I’ll be teaming up with local designers for a fashion show curated by Arcadia Boutique, where I am both the manager and assistant buyer. I chatted with Melissa about her latest accomplishment as one of the Designers-in-Residence at the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City and the upcoming Sample Sale on July 18th.
You’re a supporter of both local and sustainable fashion – why are these topics so important to you?
They’re about building strong relationships. Being able to stand behind the people you work and interact with is an amazing feeling…it’s not disposable. It’s a form of respect to be able to stay in the community; it’s like building instead of just climbing. It’s invaluable to have peers that will pair you up with other individuals and create solid networks. You have people to celebrate your accomplishments with you; there’s a support system where you feel like you can set higher goals and step out on a limb because you trust the relationships you’ve created.
Who, or what, inspires you most?
My clients inspire me on a real level – they have their own personal style that I try to bring out. People that have passions and drives that are bigger than themselves tend to motivate me. There are designers I could list but people are what really keep me moving.
Your dyeing techniques are one of the most important elements of your work – what about Shibori attracts you?
I first practiced Shibori while studying under Michael Olszewski at Moore (College of Art and Design). I fell in love with its form because the further you articulate the practice of creating pattern, the possibilities become endless, even by hand. The more I’ve practiced I’ve found that there’s a controlled variation every time. There’s an element of wonder that’s attached to it. Fabrics can be works of art in themselves before they’re even clothes.
What has been your most important experience in the Fashion Incubator?
My most important experience has been taking the opportunity to grow, building on the foundation that I have started through local custom work, and extending that one-on-one experience and dialogue with the community at the next level. This experience being introduced to so many industry experts with immense experience and knowledge is humbling and crucial. The accelerated pace encourages me to look closer and deeper at each step.
What do you love about fashion in Philadelphia?
First and foremost it’s the strong handmade movement of creating clothes locally that really makes my heart thump. There are so many stages of creating local that inspire and contribute to our city’s vibrancy. I love creative collaborations and everywhere you turn in Philly there is an opportunity to participate in one. I have to give a little shout out to the design collective 3bythree with Janell Wysock and Rachel Sherman, my fellow Moore alumn! I absolutely love wearing outfits made right here in Philly!
I also love that whether riding on the train or just passing by on the street, women in Philadelphia are so confident to share as well as receive compliments – I constantly pass out the “you look great!” and love hearing “oh, I like that!” It’s an exchange that has led to so many exciting conversations and friendships.
Some of Philly’s best-dressed guys and gals came out for Moore College of Art and Design’s “Launch Into Fashion” to network with budding fashion designers and already established local designers.
Several Moore design students and alum showcased their designs around the gallery, including Cari Ann Brezina, who creates adorable and whimsical children’s wear for “Secret Bohemia.”
Elissa Bloom got the crowd excited for the newest fashion project hitting our city: the Philaelphia Fashion Incubator. Inspired by similar “incubators” in Chicago and San Francisco, PFI emphasizes the importance of showcase emerging Philly talent.
Most notably, sassy and talented Philly-based designer Jay McCarroll was another featured speaker for the event. You might also know him from some little fashion design competition show called Project Runway as well.
In usual Jay fashion, he wasn’t shy with the humor, jokingly saying, “I wanted to apply to Moore…until I realized I have a penis.” Jay’s not just about the comedy, he also gave incredibly valuable advice to the many design students in the audience. Rather than taking inspiration from other big house designers, Jay urged students to take inspiration from of their own lives.
“If you’re talented, you can make a collection out of this wooden floor, this blue rug, this dusty plant…” Jay explained as he pointed out his surroundings on stage.
Everyone was dressed to the nines as the room was full of sky-high pumps and badass boots. So it was pretty obvious that the fastionistas came out to play for Moore’s chic get-together.
~ Jennifer Nguyen
I have two for you today.
Anyone who has been following this blog knows we love a good yarnbomb in this city. Last week while locking up my bicycle in front of Moore College for their NET Night event I noticed this lovely be-bowed yarnbomb. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen one with a creative edge (though none will beat this monster from this summer).
My second random act of randomness is this balloon. I spotted it yesterday at the corner of 20th and Walnut Sts. Does anyone know anything about it? Is this a question being posed to SEPTA seeing that it’s connected to a SEPTA bus stop sign? Is this a question being posed to the City of Philadelphia? So far, no news on the origin of the balloon so please send your suggestions or thoughts in the comments!