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In all the glitz and glamour of fashion, it's sometimes easy to forget that it's really hard work. We caught up with fashion designer Leah Delfiner, the face behind the South Philly-based label Pretty Pretty Rebel, just as she was gearing up for last week's Fall Fashion Show at the Center City Macy's. (Leah is one of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator's five Designers in Residence.) Read on to see how she works hard and plays hard during Philly's ultimate fashion event, The Philadelphia Collection.—Latanya Vicks
You launched Pretty Pretty Rebel in 2012. How did you first get your start in fashion design?
As a preteen, I attended the Young Artist workshop at Moore where I got my foundation. Upon graduating high school, I enrolled in the Art institute; I interned with a few local fashion startups and the costume shop at the Arden Theater before landing my big break interning with Betsey Johnson. I'd always known I wanted to start my own brand, and I first showed at Philly Fashion Week in 2012.
What made you come back to Philly to start your line?
Philly fashion is fun! It's not as stuffy or posh as New York; when you have fun with fashion people recognize you. There is so much talent here and it's amazing that it's not really known. Philly is a great city; it's big enough but not too big. When you make it here, people are very receptive. It's almost like you're like a local celebrity.
Your style can be described as rock 'n' roll with a dash of '80s pop culture. What's your point of view as a designer?
I want to become our generation's Betsey Johnson. Fashion now is boring and I want to show the world how fun and different it can be. I want to paint Philly pink.
What's the inspiration for your spring/summer 2014 collection?
Each show is inspired by a musician. This collection is inspired by Billy Idol; the previous season was the B52s. I listen to the music and sketch. I try to envision what the girls would wear at his concert and from there the collection evolves.
What types of fabrics do you use?
Most of the fabrics are cotton Lycra blends. It just fits body really well. Also I've been screen printing my own motifs to make things more original. Everything's Philly made which is great for spurring economic growth in the city. It also makes it a lot easier for me to be more hands on during the production process.
Do you prefer sketching designs or actually constructing them?
I love sketching because it really allows such creative freedom. I don't do much sewing anymore; if I sew it's mainly for me.
Of the pieces you've designed, do you have a favorite? Do you remember the first thing you've ever made?
My first piece was a peplum dress with lace in the back, but my favorite is the Daisy Tutu Dress from spring/summer 2014.
When you have time off, what's your favorite place in Philly to grab a bite to eat?
I'm a vegetarian so my new favorite place, which I just went to for the first time last week, is Hip City Veg. And I like the tomato basil soup at Cosi.
Now that we've all got autumn on the brain, what would you say are your personal fall essentials?
I live in my Doc Martens. Oh, and oversized sweaters and tutus.
Any favorite shops or designers in Philly?
Well there's so much talent here that it's hard to choose a designer! In the fashion world at large, I love Betsey Johnson, Jeremy Scott, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo (of Comme des Garcons), and jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino. My favorite shops in Philly are Smak Parlour, Aoki, and the Doc Martens store.
What's next on your agenda?
The residency ends in March 2014, but my goal before then is to get my product in stores. I mostly sell from the showroom by appointment or at various trunk shows around Philly. My next trunk show will be at Smak Parlour the first week in October, so stay tuned for that. I'm also looking forward to entering the digital world with an online shop.
· All Q&A posts [Racked Philly]
· Pretty Pretty Rebel [Official Site]
· Your Handy Guide to The Philadelphia Collection 2013 [Racked Philly]