A fashion and lifestyle magazine and blog produced by Students in the Design and Merchandising program at Drexel University

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Women - A Study in Fashion of 1939

At its peak in 1939, The Women was described as being a “thoroughly nasty picture." While today we would consider this movie to be quite tame, it was ahead of its time as far as script, plot, and costuming goes.  Composed of an entirely female cast of over 130 roles (even most of the animals were female), The Women acts as a sociological investigation of Park Avenue’s elite women of the 1930s.  Leading Ladies Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Fontaine let go of their former sympathetic and innocent characters and “leaped at the chance to be vixens."  The women dissect their best friends’ private lives and reputations daily over casual luncheons or while at the salon and are absolutely intriguing to watch their performances heightened through brilliant use of costumes.

While it was very original for its time, today the plot surrounding a gossiping group of friends and marital affairs seems rather predictable and cliché.  No film like this had ever been done before, so the innovation is clear when compared to other pieces from this period.  George Cukor, director, was quoted as having said that “the costumes bore little importance in the film."  It seems fair to say, however, that most anyone who has seen the film will disagree with this statement.  The costuming was used to define the personalities of the core characters.  Norma Shearer's character always looks tailored and put together to show her sophistication and poise while Joan Crawford's character is often shown in tacky fashions to further prove that she is not a natural part of this upscale lifestyle.

The film is shot almost entirely in black and white, aside from a few minutes known as “The Technicolor fashion show sequence” which really showcased costume designer, Adrian’s talents and use of color.  Cukor, again, criticized this sequence “as it did nothing to advance the plot."  While this is true in regards to the plot, this sequence was very important to fashion at the time.  It truly gave viewers a better understanding of how these designs would look in person and contributed greatly to mainstream fashion of the time.

Above shows an ensemble from the fashion show sequence on the left and an advertisement for Bergdorf Goodman on the right from Vogue, October 1939.  This side by side comparison shows how this style of dress (hooded, maxi dress, overflowing with fabric draping) rose in popularity immediately after the film’s release.  Not only was fashion affected by this film, but so was home furnishings. 

Here you can see an image from the fashion show sequence of the model laying out a yellow scarf as a picnic blanket.  This led to the Vogue advertisement next to it selling yellow bed-linens.
One of the most innovative trends, at the time, is still even popular today: Jungle Red.  This is the color of  nail polish that one of the most gossipy characters convinced all other members of her posse to wear from her manicurist.  Even from a black and white film, this color’s popularity exploded and is still around today, as can be seen below with a modern version of this color nail polish by NARS. 

Other trends that remain popular or have recently come into popularity today are items such as long dresses, capes, excess use of draping and flowing fabric, and low-cut back dresses.

The film’s use of fashion to describe its characters greatly influenced mainstream fashion of the time.  It made viewers believe that they could live that luxurious lifestyle if they looked the part, so they went out and found outfits that helped them to do this.  The technicolor fashion show sequence was pivotal to this as it showed women what the dresses and outfits would actually look like in person.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Immortal Beauty at Drexel University

--> As a former intern at Drexel’s Robert & Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, I was so excited when the Immortal Beauty highlights exhibition finally opened! With a date range that includes the mid-1500s up until the present, the incredibly curated selection of items within the gallery showcases the variety of beautiful pieces our collection has.

While volunteering at the public opening last Friday, I was able to peruse the exhibit multiple times, taking as long as I wanted to look at each piece. Having been an intern and volunteering from time to time, I am in awe of what the FHCC has accomplished. I’ve walked through the aisles of our vault numerous times, but there’s nothing like seeing a garment properly dressed on a perfectly customized mannequin – it really gives the piece life.

Perhaps the most special garment out on display is a gorgeous coral Givenchy gown previously owned and worn by Philadelphia’s own Grace Kelly. (And, if you watch the video playing in the gallery, you can see images of Her Serene Highness wearing it!)

My personal favorite, however, is a deep plum dress featured near the entrance to the exhibit. During my internship, I came across it in storage and found that it had a Drexel connection, along with being simply beautiful. As it turns out, there is a portrait of the owner wearing the skirt with an evening version of the bodice in Main Building – I have yet to see it myself, but am curious as to what this woman looked like.

I don’t want to give too many details so as to spoil the experience, though! If you live in the area or will be in the area between now and December 14th, I would highly suggest visiting the exhibition in our Pearlstein Gallery.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

H&M vs Zara

Just recently, I did a little shopping. I was on the hunt for a silky white t-shirt and a black clutch. Just a few basics. Immediately, I knew either H&M or Zara would have exactly what I was looking for. Long story short, I found the t-shirt at Zara and the clutch at H&M. While I was looking for these items, I started to notice the feelings I had towards the two brands. Basically, I Zara and I hate H&M. This is weird because, not too long ago, I was a die hard H&M fan. What changed?  

H&M vs Zara Venn Diagram

According to Zara's Competitor's Analysis, H&M is one of their biggest competitors. Before I go into this analysis of why I love Zara and hate H&M, Let's look at the similarities and differences. 

(Click on image to see large view) 

Looking at the venn diagram above, H&M and Zara are similar in a sense that they both offer fast fashion at a very low price to men, women and children. H&M, in my opinion, is faster than Zara because they offer a lot more trendier pieces that do not last that long through time. H&M has very good basics that can last trough time, as long as you do not wash it too much. Zara, on the other hand is fast fashion that can be worn for a longer period of time because they are less trendy and more classic. When deciding on whether or not to choose H&M or Zara, one must ask themselves if they want to be on trend for a short amount of time, or if they  want classic pieces that will last longer. 

Target Market and Personalities 

H&M's target audience is both male and female and range from 8 months-35 years of age. The popular segment is female 16-26 years of age. The one thing that bugged me the most about shopping in H&M was the fact that I was shopping in the same store as a bunch of 16 year olds. I felt like the old hag in the club. Zara's target audience is also both male and female. Zara does not like to define or segment its target market by age because they like to keep a broad audience, like H&M. However, Zara's popular segment are young women ranging from 20-30 years of age. Needless to say, I felt a bit more comfortable in Zara. 

I have always considered Zara to be H&M's cool, more sophisticated, older sister. Zara's brand identity is mature, confident, beautiful, modest, un-pretentious, and well-kempt. H&M's brand identity is trendy, edgy, urban, free-spirited, and expressive. There are a lot of women my age who can really pull off the trendy and expressive look. They look cool and edgy. When I first started college, I use to be that trendy chick. The one downfall to being that trendy girl is the risk of having to update your closet every month because things fall out of style quickly. Now that I am older, I relate more to Zara's brand identity. 

Visual Merchandising 

The  thing that I hate the most about H&M is their visual merchandising. H&M's idea of merchandising is to put absolutely everything on the floor and cover every corner of the store with all kinds of clothing. No strategy needed. This makes shopping extremely difficult. It took me about an hour to look through the entire store to find one clutch I liked. It almost makes me wonder whether or not I even really like the clutch, or if I was just gave up and picked whatever I saw decent. Zara is very selective and only puts out half of their inventory on the floor. It is a lot easier to find what you are looking for.   

As I get older, I get more selective when it comes to my brands. I search for more quality and less for a bargain. Do not get me wrong. I will still go to H&M, probably until I am 25, to buy my basic t-shirts and socks. However; for now on, my everyday looks will be coming from Zara. 


As almost everyone in the Philadelphia area should know by now Pope Francis was just here for the World Meeting of Families. The city of Philadelphia took every precaution necessary to make sure this event ran smoothly and most importantly, safely. The set up began days before Pope Francis even stepped foot on U.S. soil, but when one million people are expected to enter the city every minute was needed to secure the area. The National Guard was called in to block off the streets and maintain the cities safety as most of the main streets and highways were shut down beginning Thursday night. Also, I have never seen so many porta-potties in my life lining the streets and bridges all the way from Drexel’s campus through the center of the city; this was really a big weekend for the porta-potty business!

Having such a significant world figure come to our city is a once and a lifetime opportunity and it was something I definitely wanted to capitalize on. Saturday, September 26th is when Pope Francis paraded down the streets of Philadelphia for the first time in the “Pope Mobile”. I did not attend any events on this day thinking the crowds would be too difficult to deal with and I wanted to save my energy for the Mass on Sunday, which I knew would be an all day activity, and I was right. My Sunday began pretty early as I left my house a little after 10am. Since most of the streets were closed to foot traffic only I wanted to give myself plenty of time to walk into the city and get in line. Let me just say now, I completely underestimated how long and slow the lines were going to be. I ended up waiting in the checkpoint line for about 4 hours. The line spanned the width of the street and was about 8 blocks deep. Once I finally got in I found a “good” spot and settled in.

The mass was everything I could have hoped for and was such a warm-hearted experience. I could only really see the Pope on the big screens lining the parkway, but just being in the presence of the Pope delivering mass with the beautiful choirs sing the hymns in the background felt heavenly. My favorite part was when the choir sang “Taste and See”. Since it is such a well-known hymn, and pretty easy to catch on to, everyone sang along. It filled me with such a sense of unity and peace, which I think it rare when you are standing with a group of one million strangers. 

Besides the struggles of being trapped in the city all weekend with a lot of places closed down this was a great thing to experience. I had to deal with one of the largest crowds I’ve ever seen and stand in lines for what felt like forever, but I will never forget this weekend and everything that went along with it. I leave this weekend with nothing but happy memories and stories. Plus, how often do you get to walk down the middle of Market Street in the middle of the day, that was pretty special within itself!   

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Your Battery is 20% Charged" Panic

Never stop exploring. Okay maybe lately I haven’t been hiking up and down mountains or skiing down some of the highest peaks but life has been very busy. This past term has been full of long days in the Urban Center of my eyes crossing as the Excel spreadsheets get corrected in order to prepare for the Drexel Fashion Show. Among all of this craziness, I thought it would be fun to stand on line at 3am for the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale. While I might have been very tired around noon, I regret nothing.

People often assume that because I went to this sale so early in the morning that I must be a huge fan of these brightly colored prints; I must be someone who wears Lilly all of the time. Nope. My roommates needed company and I wanted to see what was there, who doesn’t love huge discounts on designer items? Don’t get me wrong though, I love my Lilly planners and tote bags but, I love wearing black, like all of the time; after all, “Women who wear black lead colorful lives.”

Nonetheless, one of the items I am so excited was at the sale was a phone case with a battery pack inside. All you have to do is put it on and press the power button and voilà your phone can charge on the go. Yes, they have been around for a while and it isn’t anything new but I couldn’t have bought it at a better time, or a better price! As we were running around at the Urban Outfitters HQ, setting up and running the fashion show, my phone battery never died and while it was in this bright and fun case. I wasn’t one of the people plugged into an outlet, sedentary in the corner, I was a girl charged and on the go. Nonetheless, my busy life, full of adventure won’t stop there, with graduation in one week this charged phone case will keep my phone charged to take pictures of all the places I will go after graduation.   

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Calm before the Storm

Have you ever felt so calm about something that it makes you nervous that you're not more worried? I'm currently feeling that right now: The 2015 Drexel Fashion Show is in two days, and I should probably be freaking out, but I'm oddly calm.

There could be several reasons for this:

The Google Drive: Forget when you're selling tickets? Can't remember if you've gotten your t-shirt? Should the Press Release be sent today? - Have no fear: somewhere, someone on the team has set up a beautiful Google Doc to tell you what is happening with who and when. 

Coffee: No explanation needed.

Netflix: See Coffee for reason.

And the Team, of course:

Our Faculty Director Catherine and Student Director Claire (or Their Royal Highnesses, the Queen and Princess of Producing the Drexel Fashion Show): These two women are so amazing and organized that even when you think there's no possible solution to a problem, they smile and tell you that something will work out - and it always does. They are leaders in every definition: empowering, managing, guiding, decision making. They have eyes on everything: a true talent. The show would not happen without these two.

Our Garment Coordinators, Julia and Courtney: If you want to see what extreme attention to detail looks like, find these two rockstars and ask to see their garment list. Over 200 garments are in the show and they know every one down to a beading detail on the strap of a dress. Magic. 

Our Model Coordinator, Ana: Whether she’s tracking down late models or finalizing details for the Show, everything is always under control with the Models as long as Ana is in charge. She keeps it drama-free: a real feat.

Our Ticket Sales Coordinators, Taylor and Diana: Those Google docs I mentioned earlier? Livesavers in terms of pushing ticket sales. These ladies kept track of online, in person and day-of sales while keeping numbers in check and making sure we had every opportunity to sell tickets. What’s a show without any ticket buyers?

My co-Marketing and PR Coordinator, Jaclyn: The creative mind of our team, Jaclyn has kept the glamour in our Marketing adventures. She’s a fabulous communicator and our skill sets have really complemented each other.  Take a look at our instagram @drexelfashion15  and see the beautifully curated images chosen by Jaclyn!

The Marketing Mavens, Kiersten, Jenna, Jenn and Nahir: This team is amazing: their guerrilla marketing ideas and creative skills took our social media and mini events to new levels. They were always present to take photos, generate excitement, and come up with amazing new ideas. Their support was so comforting. You can also catch Nahir walking in the fashion show- a man of many talents!

The Kiddie Queen, Paulina: Who was willing to volunteer to monitor the child models backstage? Saint Paulina. Not only is she revered for such a task, she’s also behind the printing and installation of the amazing designer sketches you’ll see at Urban HQ. Skills all around.

The Little Detail Queens, Evelin and Alex: Those amazing programs? The slideshow with your favorite designer’s logo? You can thank these two ladies for taking care of the finishing touches of our show. 

Not to mention the help of our D&M faculty, Drexel PR connections, Freshmen volunteers, the Urban HQ team, Fashion Design Program Faculty, Hair and Makeup teams, the amazing Fashion Designers, family and friends, and other D&Ms who have selflessly volunteered.

This team is unstoppable and so ready for the show.  So many strengths were put together to showcase the work our Fashion Design counterparts. Not many universities can say that they have a student produced fashion show. Under Catherine and Claire’s leadership, we've dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s; packed our sewing kits, and have put on our game faces (which have flawless mascara, of course).

I’d say that it’s possible that they’re all the reasons why I’m so calm for this massive event…but I did just take a Pilates class and have some tea. So it’s probably the exercise and tea.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

The 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards

One of the most important events in the fashion industry, The 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards took place in June 1st at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln center.  This annual event recognizes the outstanding contributions made to American fashion by individuals from all areas of the industry and related arts.  This year’s winners for each category are:

Womenswear Designer of the Year: The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Menswear Designer of the Year Award: Tom Ford
Accessory Designer of the Year Award: Tabitha Simmons
Swarovski Award for Womenswear: Rosie Assoulin
Swarovski Award for Menswear: Hood by Air
Swarovski Award for Accessory Design: Mansur Gavriel
The Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Betsey Johnson
The Media Award: Instagram
The Founder's Award: Millard “Mickey” Drexler
The Fashion Icon Award: Pharrell Williams 
The International Award: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino


Among the best dressed include winners Ashely and Mary-Kate Olsen and Tom Ford, Pharrell Williams. Last year's most talked about topics include Rihanna’s custom Adam Selman dress. This backless sheer dress is decorated with 216,000 Swarovski crystals. Rihanna boldly flaunts this “naked dress” and her body with a baby pink feather boa, gloves and a iridescent turban.

Further on the naked controversy, this year's most talked about topic is none other than Ms. Kim Kardashian West. Her post-pregnancy reveal dress is a see-through ankle-grazing that shows her underwear. This custom Proenza Schouler cinched waist dress is embellished with a studded turtleneck and feather puffs was paired with matching cutout heels. Kim told reporters on the carpet that she chose the design because of its slimming silhouette since she is suffering nausea due to her second pregnancy.