Benefit v.14 celebrates the art of fashion with a specially curated section. Special guests to the Main Event include Bela Shehu, Cory Wade Hindorff from America’s Next Top Model, and Dom Streater from Project Runway. In anticipation of our surprise fashion highlights, this week we’re featuring auction items with stand-out style.
Leah Delfiner has been following her brand motto – painting the town pink – since her graduation from The Art Institute in 2010. Following internships in New York and a stint with the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, she’s hard at work putting her personal punk style into her fashion line, Pretty Pretty Rebel.
How did you transition into the fashion industry from the Art Institute?
I graduated at the Art Institute in September 2010, and from there I started interning at Betsey Johnson in New York. And I was there until about Jan 2011, and it really inspired me to branch out and show the world my designs. Because I always wanted to be a mini Betsey Johnson. So after my internship, instead of getting an actual job in the industry, I came back home to Philadelphia, and they gave me a job at the retail store, and I was working on my line and I started trying to take a year to focus on what I wanted to accomplish. I launched in 2012, at Philly Fashion week in November, and then I went to New York Fashion Week. I really want to start this and make this in to a legit fashion business. In the spring of 2012, I met Alisa and she started doing consulting with me, and she told me about the program, and I applied. And now I’ve been an agent in the program since 2013. And it’s been an amazing experience. I took business classes with other entrepreneurs and it really made me more of a business woman than just a designer.
I know it’s difficult transitioning from art into the business realm.
It was awful. It was the hardest thing in 2012. I was so lost and confused, because I’m a designer, not a businesswoman. I thought,” I want to be a businesswoman now.” And it the end of the day it’s just a really expensive hobby that I can’t afford.
And do you think Philly is a good city to launch into the fashion industry?
I do. I think Philly has come a long way, with the arts and fashion especially, because it’s so cutthroat in New York, and it’s so hard there. And I feel like a lot of people think that they can just go to New York and be famous. Philadelphia has a huge industry, it’s a little bit more underground, but you can really start something like a business here. And Philadelphia’s so supportive with their local artists and local business. Everyone’s so willing to help each other out, which is also very inspiring.
Can you tell me more about your brand, Pretty Pretty Rebel?
When I first started the program, Pretty Pretty Rebel was inspired by rock and roll music mixed with 80s pop culture with a girly feminine twist. And each collection ii did was inspired by a different musician. But being in the program and learning more about my business, and who my customer really is, I realized my customers are children. So I’m launching a children’s wear line next March. It’s going to be the same exact brand. It’s inspired by rock and roll music, and features bright colors and wild imaginations. So it’s basically the same exact line that I’ve been working on, just smaller.
What has been the most important part of finding your personal style?
I always wanted to look like Madonna from 1984. I wasn’t even around then, I was born at the very end of the 80s. I make my own clothes, so everything I wear is made by me. I am Pretty Pretty Rebel. Literally I am my brand. I’m a walking billboard.
Tell me about the piece you’re donating.
It’s one of the dresses I made for my fall collection. I learned screenprinting over the summer, so it has this screenprint heart. There’s a seam at the top, with black and pink. It’s flowy and gathered at the bottom, so when you twirl it flares out. It’s the perfect outfit to wear casually and dress up.
What are you looking forward to most about the event?
I’m looking forward to networking and meeting people, and seeing all the other art that’s there. I love going to the art shows, because it really gives you the chance to meet other artists and possibly do collaborations with them. It’s really inspiring, especially Phildelphia, supporting each other. I’m really excited to meet the other people that are involved.