Conquering Pins and Needles

One of Stephanie's designs at the fashion show. Photo credit: Isabella Gong Photography

One of Stephanie’s designs at the fashion show. Photo credit: Isabella Gong Photography

In the midst of all the talk in Huntsman Hall about consulting and banking and investments, there was talk of fashion—at least from March 30 to April 5. These dates marked the seventh annual Penn Fashion Week, a celebration of all aspects of fashion run by Dzine2Show, Wharton Retail Club and Delta Sigma Pi. As a member of both Dzine2Show and Wharton Retail Club, I have attended and helped at almost every event the past two years. Here’s the inside scoop.

The week kicked off with the fashion show that Dzine2Show hosts every semester. Rather than working backstage or photographing as I have in the past, this year I designed for the show. Designers were picked in December, and since then, I have sketched designs, bought fabric, drafted patterns, and sewed and sewed and sewed and ripped out a few seams and fitted and poked myself with pins and sewed some more. The week leading up to the show was particularly hectic with five-plus hours of sewing per day and even sewing until the sun rose to finish off the week.

After pinning so much as to develop a wound in my thumb and pushing thoughts of sleep away with chocolate-covered espresso beans, I looked at my two beautifully made dresses and one hastily sewn skirt and wondered if it had been worth it. Regardless, I dropped off my designs at Bodek Lounge and, around 8 p.m., made my way to the fashion show to wait for my three minutes of fame.  Penn students (who definitely looked more like models on the runway) strutted my looks to “Barbie Girl” in accordance to this season’s Doll House theme.

Aslaug Magnusdottir, co-founder of Moda Operandi

Aslaug Magnusdottir, co-founder of Moda Operandi

Watching the audience react to my looks and hearing various people afterward tell me they had seen the photo of my dress caused me to feel accomplished in a way that is tough to explain in terms of ordinary school. It’s different than receiving a number grade that is supposed to indicate knowledge you may have. It’s different than reading and discussing poems in Italian class. It’s about making something with your own two hands.

The rest of the week was comprised of various panels, such as the keynote speaker, Aslaug Magnusdottir, the co-founder of Moda Operandi, and even the appearance of a McLaren and Maserati on campus in an event about the luxury car industry.

Fashion Week is a time for Wharton students to learn about opportunities in the exciting fashion industry from professionals, while also experiencing firsthand what it’s like to run a fashion show—or even make your own clothes. Next time you compliment a Penn student on his or her outfit, perhaps you’ll get the response, “Thanks! I made it!”

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