South Philly designer Jacqueline City is taking her newest fashion line to the virtual runway.
The online fashion show called “2 Years of Authenticity” celebrates the young disabled designer’s success and continuing drive to promote inclusivity in fashion.
Using her hometown as the backdrop, and local residents to help promote her new line, City is once again shining a spotlight on the City of Brotherly Love with “The Authentic Collection.”
“Philly represents authenticity for me, for my story and where I come from,” she said. “I think it will be really cool to show that because I haven’t been able to have a live runway show yet in Philly.”
The pandemic has derailed quite a few of the fashion designer’s plans but she hasn’t let that stop her from moving forward. She’s recently been featured in Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. And after participating in New York Fashion Week early last year, City was invited to Paris Fashion Week before the event was canceled. She’s aiming to finally go to France later this year, depending on the status of the pandemic. City is considered high-risk because of her condition, which is called dysautonomia. She suffered permanent brain damage to her hypothalamus, which has several functions, including hormone releases as well as regulating blood pressure, heart rate and internal temperature.
Her condition sparked the idea of inclusivity within her fashion designs, and encourages people to be proud to showcase their authentic selves. She’s made it bigger and bolder by including many different walks of life like first responders, mothers, veterans and students, who all shared their stories of pandemic life for the campaign.
“We decided to really reflect on the brand and why I created the brand and its message and the roots of my story and what people relate to most,” City said. “We wanted to create a really authentic platform for other people to share their stories. Because I don’t think the conversation stops with my story. I want it to start with my story.”
It continues with intern Dani Thompson’s story.
Thompson, who is also a South Philly resident, earned her undergrad in finance at Drexel University while always having a wandering eye for fashion. She decided to bravely change paths into the fashion world and go back to school to learn the field.
“I could always do finance but I was never happy in it,” Thompson said. “I ended up taking a really big leap and it was really scary because I’m in school with people so much younger than me now and they are far ahead of me in skill level. It’s been a humbling experience but I think I absolutely made the right choice. I’m where I’m supposed to be. It’s important to be fearless when trying to achieve your dreams in life.”
Working for Jacqueline City Apparel made her feel more comfortable in her skin. Thompson helped model the new line at the Italian Market last month and it will be shown as part of the online runway, which premieres on March 5. Thompson wasn’t the only South Philly resident who helped with the show.
“It was really fun,” Thompson said. “At one point we were taking video in the street and the whole community wanted to be so helpful and block cars. People were cheering us on. It was such a warm and fun experience even though it was 25 degrees out.”
The extra help wasn’t expected, but it also wasn’t a surprise. City spent a lot of time in that area as a youngster as she visited family nearby often.
“I grew up going to the Italian Market at least once a week because that’s where my mom grew up and that’s where most of my family lives,” City said. “That’s what I think of Philly is my childhood. I used to set up an easel and paint the people walking by and stand on the table and sing when I was 4. I really had some fond memories. The Italian Market also has that Rocky underdog feel. The city itself is an underdog with a grit but a heart under that hard shell.”
City said South Philly was one of three main runway locations, with the others being Old City and Center City. Other snippets of Philly locations like the skate park at FDR Park will also be seen during a jam-packed three-hour show, which begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available on JacquelineCity.com. There will be numerous speakers telling inspirational stories, several giveaways and a Q&A session with Jacqueline. Each ticket comes with a magazine catalog that will house all of the inspirational stories and materials. The event introduces the new collection and campaign as well as reflects on the last two years. Jacqueline City’s movement of inclusivity and authenticity has started on the inner circle and hopes to expand much further.
“I think Jacqueline has one of the most interesting stories to tell,” Thompson said. “There’s no other designer that I can think of that is so passionate about her brand and the community that she serves. It’s an amazing thing to watch.”