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Design Lab: The Fusion of Science & Style

fashion model posing in front of Tyrannosaurus rex

April 30, 2012

Janai Keita is an 11th grader at Philadelphia High School for Girls, and she is interested in fashion journalism. She is part of the Academy’s Women In Natural Sciences program, a free after-school and summer science enrichment program that has introduced hundreds of high school girls to future careers in science and other professions by providing hands-on science workshops, career and college exploration, and positive youth development. Here, Janai reflects on her experience attending Philadelphia University’s Fashion Show: The Fusion of Science & Style.

On Saturday, April 21, 2012, history happened. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University hosted Philadelphia University's Design X Fashion Show, the first-ever science fashion show held at the Academy. This event was part of the Philadelphia Science Festival, an April event in which Philadelphia's schools, universities, cultural institutions, and research centers come together as one to put a spotlight on science. During the fashion show Philadelphia University’s very talented fashion design students showcased their science-inspired creations in the Academy’s Dinosaur Hall. The designers used all types of materials, from last years’ Philadelphia Science Festival banner to chicken wire.

I had the opportunity to speak with the designers about their inspirations and designs. The designer who stood out to me the most was Shanel Campbell. When asked about her inspiration, she quickly exclaimed, “the Victorian Era.” The stringy fabrics and bright colors of her dresses were inspired by the nervous system and dead preserved neon specimens, yet she wanted her dresses to imitate those elegant dresses of the Victorian Era, with low and pointed waists, bell-shaped skirts, corsets, and ankle-length chemise-like skirts. When speaking with her my last question was, “What kept you going when making your dress?” She simply said, “A quote by Alexander McQueen: ‘I want to empower women. I want people to be scared of the women I dress.’”

Also, not only were there dresses to see—you could check out different science-related projects as well as just cute accessories that were on display. Inventor Adam Harvey designs products that he says “you can control.” He has several different accessories such as an anti-paparazzi clutch and a phone case which blocks out connection. His work can be found on his website,

The event featured a very good atmosphere; everyone who attended had light refreshments and beverages. They all seemed to be fascinated with the fashion show. On my way out I spoke with attendees Laurie Foley and George Foley, who said, “The show was very innovative, the girls took time making the outfits, and a lot of thought was put into the inspirations.”

Overall the show was very enjoyable. A lot of the designs could be worn to different engagements. Thank you to Philadelphia University’s student designers for your limitless creativity!