Put a boatload of residents on The Moshulu, 401 S. Columbus Blvd., on any given Sunday during football season and there might be a ruckus. Fortunately, it’s a bye week for the Eagles and many fans will be trading in their jerseys for something a bit more formal at Steppin’ Out South Philly Style, a fashion show/luncheon aboard the Penn’s Landing ship, to benefit the Methodist Hospital Foundation.
"This is really a South Philly event for the foundation," Diane Pirollo, foundation vice president for community relations and foundation development, said. "We’re using the shops and stores on Passyunk Avenue for all the fashions."
The four female and four male models also will have local ties — four are students at Neumann-Goretti High School, 10th and Moore streets, while four are employees of Methodist Hospital, 2301 S. Broad St.
"I am definitely not a model by trade," Michelle Eisenhower, chief medical officer for the Methodist campus of Jefferson Hospital and one of the show’s models, said. "I’m probably a lot more comfortable with my stethoscope than I am on the runway, but we’re all having a great time, getting to meet people, and it’s a very worthwhile cause."
"We wanted to keep it local in the community," Pirollo said of the first foundation fundraiser in five years. "We felt that it really had the flavor of what South Philadelphia is really all about. We wanted to do something different than what you usually see for a fundraiser — like a big hotel event. We wanted to make it fun, enjoyable [and] go to a place where it was a different venue."
Nine stores on the avenue will outfit the models: Aci Nae, Bianca Simone, Gigolo’s, Shoe Barrel, A Man’s Image, Pasquale Scioli, MIA Phialdelphia, Harriet’s Innerwear and Frankie’s on the Avenue. Hair will be done by Headhunters.
"We thought it was a really good event to do — it’s for a good cause," Janae Didonato, co-owner of Aci Nae at 1928 E. Passyunk Ave., said. "I think it’s great. It opens door for other boutiques and puts the spotlight on East Passyunk Avenue. It’s growing and I think it’s going to be the next hot spot. I think a lot of people in South Philly have a lot of style, we just don’t get recognized as well. New York just kind of takes over."
Planning for the event began in the summer, Pirollo said, with a focus on the community the foundation solely benefits.
"The Methodist Hospital Foundation is used for programs, to give grants. Since 1998, close to $1 million has been reinvested through the grant program to grassroots organizations who are looking to provide benefits to residents of South Philadelphia for health reasons," Pirollo said.
The foundation also supports the unity clinic run out of St. Agnes Hospital, 1900 S. Broad St., as well as the homemakers’ services in local seniors facilities. It’s given scholarships for nursing and used funding toward construction of the Women’s Diagnostic Center in the area. As a public healthcare charity established in ’86, it serves as the fundraising arm of Methodist Hospital.
"So it really stays here in South Philadelphia," Pirollo said of the foundation’s work. "It’s a charitable mission to serve the healthcare needs of the South Philadelphia community."
Each attendee paying $55 will be greeted with a mimosa at the event’s noon start. Over four hours, a luncheon and socializing is capped by the 45-minute fashion show.
The groundwork of the runway show also began coming together in the summer, fashion coordinator Lauren Raske said. She was there for the initial consultations with the stores, through each fitting and is now rehearsing the event with the eight models.
"We’re having as many rehearsals as possible, but I think everyone’s going to do an amazing job," Raske said.
Attire for the show will be semi-formal and formalwear, with Glen Weikert, a local DJ and entertainer, acting as MC, announcing the fashions. The final outfit count still is being determined, Raske said, but noted it will end up being about five or six for each model.
Didonato and co-owner Monica Mullett are providing six cocktail dresses and formalwear, each custom-designed by the fashionistas.
"Our collection is based on a goddess theme with browns and bronze," Didonato said. "It’s very flowy. You’ll see a lot of chiffon, leather, sheers, silks."
Abe Mandel, owner of A Man’s Image, 1709 Passyunk Ave., will outfit the men.
"I’m going to do looks for younger men — blazers, mock shirts — things that are very much in style today," he said. "At one time, a South Philadelphia dresser was a superb dresser. Today, people don’t dress to look better, they dress to put clothes on their backs."
Pirollo was optimistic about the exposure for all involved.
"We could have easily gotten someone like Macy’s and just had them put their clothes up, but we didn’t want to do that," she said.