Ken Downing has been feeling very retro lately.
That's why Downing, the senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, made sure a Thursday night charity fashion show in King of Prussia was flush with 1980s fabulosity, blush tones, bold stripes, and a heavy dose of 1970s funk.
The posh party was replete with head- nodding, back-down-memory-lane tunes from Madonna, the Mamas and the Papas, and Gwen Stefani. The back of the runway was splashed with the graffiti art of West Philadelphia's own King Saladeen.
"It's all about MTV, the 1980s, 1982/1983," Downing said backstage as he prepared to dress a cadre of models in 72 magnificent magnificent, mixed print, layered looks.
The trousers were wide-legged; the skirts glittered. The shoes were Louboutin.
"What was interesting about the fall runways was the rebel voice of protest," Downing said. "The collections voiced unhappiness with the global unrest, and we moved out of the sedentary 1970s, where we've been for while, into the 1980s, with a strong, confident Madonna attitude."
It was no wonder, then, that Downing kicked off the show with "Material Girl."
Proceeds from the "Art of Fashion" — the goal was $300,000 — were to go to Philly Fight's Cancer benefiting Abramson Cancer Center's. The event was conceived and organized by general manager and vice-president of the King of Prussia Neiman Marcus, Missy Dietz. Dietz lost her husband to cancer several years ago and she's worked closely with Philly Fights Cancer since.
Downing arrived at the KOP Neiman's on Sunday to prepare the looks. "Sometimes I just get in my zone," he told me. He came back on Tuesday to match accessories (most were sequined); sneakers (platforms); bags, including clutches for men; and jewelry (all men wore Chanel earrings). Some of the costume jewelry was also provided by Dena Kemp.
Iconic 1970s model Pat Cleveland opened and closed the show.
Here, some of the best looks.
Loved these stripes:
Blush tones are everything:
Working the neutrals: