Fashions at Academy Ball: Ebony, with rainbows

Orchestra president Allison Vulgamore in deep teal Rina Di Montella.
Orchestra president Allison Vulgamore in deep teal Rina Di Montella. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 29, 2014

From Grammy winner Jill Scott's elegant black taffeta two-piece to Philadelphia Orchestra president Allison Vulgamore's satin gown in the deepest of teals, doyennes blanketed Saturday's 157th Anniversary Concert and Ball in shades of velvety midnight.

But in every nighttime sky, there are stars that burst with color.

It was a pretty high-fashion sight at the Academy of Music: Within the chic crowd of black and navy mermaid silhouettes and one-shouldered ensembles in eggplants and emeralds, there were pops of corals, swaths of reds, and a few flashes of pinky-purple, also known as Pantone's color of the year, radiant orchid.

"There was just something about this color," said Daria Pew in her strapless Angel Sánchez gown. The pinkier version of radiant orchid was a lovely contrast to her bronze skin.

Scott, 41, the night's headliner, made a phenomenal fashion choice.

The singer who hails from North Philly walked across the stage - where she fondly recalled Carole King's performance she saw decades ago - wearing a lacy taffeta peplum top, courtesy of JS Collections. The bustled ball-gown skirt was an Adrien Arpel classic.

Why was the mood of the night's ball so mysteriously yet fashionably dark?

"I think we are going back to classic blacks and navies in eveningwear," said West Philly-born-and-bred Steven Kinlock, Scott's stylist. "We are going back to the era when buying a ball gown means making an investment. Navies and black in shimmer and shine are classic statements."

Kinlock brought three deep-hued options for Scott to try, including a Michael Kors gown and a full black skirt by Season 8 Project Runway alum Michael Costello. (FYI, Costello is the man behind the over-the-top sexy gown Beyoncé wore to Sunday night's Grammy Awards.) Kinlock planned to pair that skirt with a vintage Celine shirt with lots of ruffles.

Speaking of lots of pretty white ruffles, Academy of Music chairwoman Adele Schaeffer sparkled on stage in her tuxedo-style ensemble. Schaeffer, who bought her shirt and top from a Florida boutique, was very princesslike. Julia Roberts, who wore a similar black-and-white look in her much-talked-about Dior to the Golden Globes, might want to take notes.

Eliana Papadakis, one of this year's Academy Ball chairwomen, amped up a silvery-black Mark Ingram gown. Her daughter, Maria, looked very seductive-mermaid in a strapless sparkling green La Femme.

Monique Lhuillier was behind one of the best dresses of the night: MaryBeth Alvin's strapless red-and-black gown with just the right amount of gathering in the waist was phenomenal. As she walked through the preconcert open house reception, women stopped, stared, and envied those elbow-length black gloves.

And Michelle Egan gets the prize for the most unconventional but cute kimono-style BCBG Max Azria, in a swirl of sky blue and peach.

As usual, Joanna McNeil Lewis was among the night's best-dressed. The former chair of the Academy of Music picked the perfect green Oscar de la Renta. Next to her friend Lin Buck, in a Paula Ka coral dress that showed off Michelle Obama-defined arms, the two drew a lot of attention.

Longtime ballgoer and Center City resident Trish Wellenbach went with silvery golden sparkle. Her Liancarlo princess gown was similar in color to the Gucci that singer Taylor Swift wore to the Grammys, winning Swift the best-dressed honor in my book.

Sparkle is always the big winner on the red carpet.



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