Bohemian Pink owner Monica Schermer (right) and Paula Riley take part in a virtual Fashion Show hosted by the Chestnut Hill business District on Wed., May 27.

by Kathleen Dolan

Sweatpants were mentioned a number of times at a fashion show spotlighting Chestnut Hill’s many boutiques last week, which during another time may have been unusual. But much is unpredictable and strange at the moment and the Chestnut Hill Business Association has adapted, hosting a virtual fashion show via Zoom. Shopkeepers in Chestnut Hill had the opportunity to showcase spring and summer fashions for their loyal customers, many of whom have been quarantined at home and believably spending more time in sweatpants.

Hosted by Kathie Meadows, Director of Business Development at the CHBA, “Fashion’s Night In” on May 27 featured ten shops modeling seasonal outfits, showcasing products and informing customers know about virtual shopping options, curbside pick-ups and online resources.

“This is your chance to see the newest fashions trends, support your favorite Chestnut Hill businesses and spend time virtually with friends,” said Meadows at the opening of the 45-minute show.

While owners and shop managers sipped on a cocktail Paris Bistro created especially for the occasion – a strawberry vodka and sparkling water beverage called the Easy Peasy Quarantini — shoppers who logged on for the event enjoyed virtual glimpses of inside many of the neighborhood’s boutiques that have been closed since March 27.

“These are our quarantine fashions — these are meant to be comfortable, forgiving, slimming…” said Monika Schermer, owner of Bohemian Pink, 8638 Germantown Ave. With Quarantinis in hand, Schermer and model, Paula Riley, showcased a Dreamers tunic sweater and the shop’s line of Nyguard jeans, skinny ankle style in Twilight and skinny cuff in Indigo — popular for the button and zipper-less four-inch waistline. Even in a store packed with pink, the pair of neon pink clogs that finished Schermer’s outfit stood out, adding a fun shock of color. 

At El Quetzal at 8427 Germantown Ave., store manager Lindsay Kiska modeled a light-weight blouse with a pair of grey Dress Forum joggers and slip-on Natural Metallic Linen Toms and a necklace by Sorrelli, handmade in Kutztown — an outfit she called “appropriate for a Zoom outfit meeting or for a casual night out.” El Quetzal sells jewelry, pottery, apparel and gifts and is offering virtual shopping options via Facebook and Zoom.

Beth Milley Owner of Villavillakula, a children’s boutique located at 8419 Germantown Ave. introduced the store as being “as colorful and quirky as the fictional home of Pippi Longstocking, from which the store takes its name.” The thoughtfully curated collection of toys, books and accessories made by at least 25 local artisans “burst of whimsy and creativity,” said Milley. The shop offers curbside pick-up and sells face masks, and two of the shop’s young fans, Claire and Martha Rose, modeled on Wednesday evening, holding dolls wearing matching masks.

It wasn’t just quarantine fashion though, as many shopkeepers shared their enthusiasm for reopening and for looking good when it comes time to go out again, with outfits complete with handbags, shades, hats and jewelry.

“We like to look fabulous all the time — during quarantine and after quarantine,” said Keia Chesson of TC Unlimited. Chesson, wearing a blue goddess dress by Gracia, a favorite of hers. Chesson gave a virtual tour of the store, revealing “sequins, to goddess, to accessories to bling, casual and comfortable, linen, animal prints…” Chesson’s shop at 8113 Germantown Ave. has a wide-ranging collection to suit many occasions.

Sue Morrison, store manager at Sara Campbell, 8409 Germantown Ave., wore a navy dress with striped collar and cuff — the shop’s best-selling spring dress. She described the dresses at Sarah Campbell, all made in the United States, are “conceived with both timelessness and prettiness in mind” for errands or wearing to work.

This was the CHBA’s first virtual fashion show and while a few technical glitches occurred, all participants were able to promote their goods via livestream to shoppers at home. Also featured was Artisans on the Avenue at 8440 Germantown Ave., Quelque Chose at 8437 Germantown Ave., Rebel at 8020 Germantown Ave., ellelaurie at 8617 Germantown Ave., Jonesy’s Accessories at 7916 Germantown Ave., and Chestnut Hill Sports at 8628 Germantown Ave.

Fashion’s Night In is one of the many ways that the CHBA’s #KeepItOnTheHill campaign has been working to promote small businesses and shopping locally and 5% of the night’s proceeds are going toward the new Chestnut Hill Community Development Corporation Small Business Grant.

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