April 13, 2011

Nine local designers lit up the stage Friday night at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts fashion show, creating a great mix of ready-to-wear and couture designs.

Some were suitable for spring - such as Carmelita Martell's Carmelita Couture collection of flowing maxi dresses. Others, such as the dark day dresses by former Project Runway contestant Kristin Haskins Simms, were perfect for fall.

Sarah Van Aken showed the most easy-to-wear pieces with her spring SAVA collection of day dresses.

Katie Ermilio got high marks for her pastel tailored pieces, many of which will be available at a trunk show Wednesday at Boyds. Garments by Bela Shehu and Priscilla Costa focused on the details. Shehu's monochromatic grouping of dresses and cloaks featured amazing tucks and drapes, while the Brazilian-born Costa wowed us with shifts and A-line pieces with multicolored floral trims, a technique also known as fuxico. After a five-year hiatus from the runway, Jaames Nelson, who had a collection in Nordstrom during the 1990s, showed a chic leather grouping that was worth the wait. Janice Martin's bridal gowns literally twinkled - LED lights were folded into the fabric.

-Elizabeth Wellington

Philadelphia Inquirer



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