by Len Lear
I am anything but a fashion maven; in fact, what I know about haute couture could fit into a mouse’s shirt pocket, but I do know that every time I see photos in a newspaper or magazine of a famous designer’s newest fashion line strolling down a runway in Paris or Milan, I think the circus must have just come to town. I think there is no way a non-celebrity female human being would be seen in this freaky stuff outside of a bad dream. Look at the back of any copy of US Magazine, and you will see celebrities wearing these insults to femininity, along with hilarious, snide comments by comedy writers about the bizarre outfits.
However, women who want a return to really classy, feminine, sophisticated, glamorous outfits that any self-respecting woman would be delighted to wear have a champion in designer Victoria Wright, 25, who lives in Chestnut Hill Village with her boyfriend. A new collection by Victoria has been attracting attention for its combination of diverse textures and modern florals, whimsical silhouettes and vintage references. “My brand philosophy is to bring back the art of dressing up,” she explained.
Victoria, who looks like a model herself and has in fact done her share of modeling for other local designers, was born and raised in Doylestown and knew from an early age that she was going to be a fashion designer. After graduation from CB West High School, she studied in New York City at Parsons New School for Design as well as Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, graduating in 2012.
Upon completing internships and freelancing for companies such as Rebecca Taylor, Urban Outfitter’s and Club Monaco, Victoria began to visualize her brand with python intensity. After being chosen as a finalist in the Philadelphia Magazine Fashion Project and showing her first collection in Atlantic City Fashion Week, Victoria was accepted into the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, a year-long training program at Macy’s in center city.
“I’ve always loved vintage style,” Victoria told us in a recent interview. “One of my first jobs was working at a thrift store where they sold beautiful vintage dresses among other second-hand items. I also always had a fondness for paper dolls when I was a child. As I got older, I never lost that fascination with vintage clothing and gained another love, Audrey Hepburn and her movies! I like to think about what she would wear if she were around now. I always think, would Audrey wear this?”
Victoria began drawing pretty dresses when she was just 13 and was fortunate to get plenty of encouragement from her parents. “My mother particularly encouraged me by teaching me art history and giving me a strong appreciation for art and design. My father encouraged me by giving me a hard-working spirit and urging me to do work of high quality. He always told me to never give up and to value quality over quantity, and those mottos have stuck with me to this day, even though he passed away from cancer a few years ago.”
Victoria, whose work should need no fishing lure to attract crowds, launched an online store a few weeks ago and has gotten lots of hits. She also had quite a few sales online when she completed a successful Kickstarter project last May. The customers came from all over the country (and the world). All pre-ordered items from her fall, 2015, line are sold through her website to help her raise over $15,000 to cover production costs.
Someone once said that the pioneers take all the arrows, but so far Victoria has remained unscathed. When asked what it was like to have her first collection shown during Atlantic City Fashion Week (ACFW) last year, she said, “Fashion shows are terribly stressful! It was an amazing experience, but it feels so hectic and crazy in the days leading up to the show. However, once my looks hit the runway, and I did my own walk and got to wave at the crowd, I just felt like a million bucks! A few months later when I was voted the Best Ready-to-Wear designer of ACFW 2014, I really felt great! And that made all the stress worth it.”
Needless to say for a new young designer, getting one’s clothing into department stores and boutiques is about as easy as doing acupuncture on a porcupine. How does Victoria do it then? “Right now I don’t do trade shows,” she said. “I sort of rep my own line along with my fellow designer, Rebeca Imperiano, who was in the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator with me. We were the shyest two of the group and found that working together helped to give us confidence and strength.
“Currently, we make cold calls, send emails and even visit boutiques hoping to pique the interest of buyers. And so far this has been working to get some attention. I’m not saying that it is easy, but the harder we work, the more boutiques pick our lines up.”
So far Victoria’s clothing has gotten into Intrigue Fine Apparel in Buckingham and Styche in Ardmore. Elizabeth Wellington, fashion editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote in the Oct. 14 issue about Victoria’s line: “The organza skirts are the perfect, modern midi-length. Midriff tops are not too belly-baring, so they are perfectly appropriate by themselves or with a fitted blazer.”
How does Victoria feel about living in Chestnut Hill? “I absolutely love living here. I live just a few blocks away from the beautiful boutiques, shops and restaurants on Germantown Avenue. I really love to walk around the Avenue to do my errands, work with a latte at one of the cafes and get a glass of French wine at Paris Bistro after 5! I think it is just such a picturesque community, and that really inspires me as a highly visual person.”
For more information, visit www.victoriawrightdesigns.com.