Jacqueline City always wanted to make a big impression on the Big Apple.
The disabled fashion designer from South Philly recently took New York by storm as she showcased her new line “After Midnight” on a rooftop in SoHo during New York Fashion Week on Sept. 12. City recently moved to the city’s Upper West Side to completely indulge in one of the most recognizable fashion capitals in the world. It was just a 20-minute train ride to New York Fashion Week, where her new line reached the eyes of the biggest fashion designers in the world.
“It’s very surreal but it’s always been my dream to move here,” City, 25, said. “Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to move to New York and go to school to do fashion. Since I didn’t get to do that because of my disability, it’s great that I still got to pursue my dreams of living here and having my own space.”
City has a condition called dysautonomia. She was injured as a teenager at a rock concert and 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.
She was bedridden and lost 50 pounds before her remarkable recovery.
Despite her disability, in 2019, she created Jacqueline City Apparel, which is a sustainable, vegan clothing line with inclusive sizing and affordable prices. She was featured in British Vogue magazine and was honored by Marquis fashion magazine’s on its “Who’s Who in America” list for 2021-22.
Her first show was at 2020 New York Fashion Week, just a month before the pandemic took the country by storm. Now 18 months later, City returned to the big show in the Big Apple.
“It was really great to return because I only really had the experience once before in February 2020, right before the pandemic,” she said. “It was interesting to see how it’s changed in response to the pandemic with an outdoor show.”
City went retro with her new line “After Midnight” that was featured at New York Fashion Week. It was inspired by 1970s stage wear from famous music artists.
“It’s inspired specifically by the ‘70s like ABBA and Cher’s costumes from their tours,” City said. “I really wanted to make it feel like going out to the discotheques and roller disco and ‘70s funk. I tried to have a lot of fun creating these garments and try to bring some life back into the show. I think we all needed a reason to celebrate so I wanted to make it a fun experience as well.”
Her show included plus sizes for women as well as men’s and unisex looks for her fall collection. It was the first time Jacqueline City featured plus-size models on the runway and she now offers sizes up to 6X when possible.
“I think the reception was good,” she said. “Hopefully in the future, we will start to include more disabled models. It’s harder to find them because they are not represented by the normal modeling agencies that we would approach but I hope to do more regular people in our shows like we did in the virtual runway show earlier this year but they have very high standards for the industry models for New York Fashion Week, but hopefully we can continue to try to break that mold.”
New York has long been in line with worldly fashion hotspots London, Milan and Paris. City will show a new line at her first international appearance in the prestigious Paris Fashion Week in the spring.
“I’ve been so excited since right before the pandemic,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of time to work on it so the collection will be two years in the making. I’ve gotten to really take my time and work on all of the pieces. I’m very excited to finally show them as soon as it’s safe to travel for our whole team.
Unlike New York, Jacqueline won’t be moving to Paris, but she does plan on spending a little extra time there during her trip.
“I’m unbelievably excited,” she said. “That’s going to be such a dream. I’m definitely going to set aside some extra time from Paris Fashion Week to just explore the city. Because of my disability, I haven’t been able to travel outside of the country at all so it will be great to finally get to do so.”