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Melani Von Alexandria Steals the PIFA Show

Nine local designers lit up the stage Friday night at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Fashion Show creating a great mix of ready-to-wear and couture designs. Some were suitable for spring - like Carmelita Martell's Carmelita Couture's collection of flowing maxi dresses. Others like former Project Runway contestant, Kristin Haskins Simms collection of dark day dresses were perfect for fall.

Sarah Van Aken took the most wearable prize for her spring SAVA collection of easy-to-wear day dresses. Katie Ermilio got high marks with her pastel tailored pieces, many of which will available today at a trunk show at Boyds Philadelphia. Both Bela Shehu and Priscilla Costa garments focused on the details. Shehu's monochromatic, yet  sleek grouping of dresses and cloaks featured amazing tucks and drapes while the Brazilian-born Costa wowed us with shifts and A-line pieces with multi-colored floral trims, a Brazilian technique called fuxico.

Jaames Nelson, who once had a collection in Nordstrom during the 1990s had been off the scene for at least five years, but his chic leather hadn't showed a collection in at least five years, but his chic leather grouping was worth the wait. Janice Martin's gowns  twinkled down the runway - Dreamy.

But Melanie Brandon's Melani von Alexandria collection was the coolest by far. The collection was remiscent of Christian Dior-style mid-calf skirts. Tailored jackets and bold hats took it up a notch and thick belts gave the suits a sculpted feeling. Now if only we could get enough specialty-shops to pick up these lines so we can make the transition from fashion as entertainment to fashion as business.

See the rest of Michael Bryant's awesome photos here.