East Falls fashion in NYC? Hollywood, too. PhillyU alumna, Jovan O’Connor banked on her talent and is living her dream. Take a peek at her Scotts Lane studio, and her latest collection of “special occasion” designs that are earning her a name in widening circles.
Philly is having a fashion moment, with a vibe that’s vivid, textured, strong, and unexpected. Of course the reigning queen of Philly Fashion is Dom Streater, two-time Project Runway winner. But alongside Dom, a local designer has been gaining a name for herself…
Jovan O’Connor‘s “special occasion” garments demand attention, and practically crackle with life and energy. Sold & styled internationally — inspired & designed right here in East Falls.
Her creations are so stand-out, Patti LaBelle was wearing her on the red carpet when she was still an undergrad. After graduation, Jovan found immediate success making custom garments — “slinging dresses” as she put it in her video at the end of this page.
Although Jovan loved making her clients look great, she had her own voice, her own ideas to express. A close friend’s words encouraged her to dream big, “You’re not a seamstress, you’re a designer!” So Jovan turned away the one-offs that had been her bread & butter, to focus on her first collection.
She knew right away who she’d be designing for: a young professional with a full social calendar. She’s sexy, classy, and chic. Even with the most classic pieces, she’ll want a “wow” factor somewhere to catch the eye. She’s fashion forward, not trendy — she’s a step ahead, in her own unique limelight.
By February 2014, Jovan was a designer-in-residence at Macy’s Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Philly U. Soon, her collections were featured by NYC sustainable fashion house Nineteenth Amendment — both in their Fashion Week “shopping portal” at Manhattan Macy’s and online where customers can browse, purchase & pre-order from anywhere.
Standouts in Jovan’s “Girl from Ipanema” collection (Summer 2016, inspired by the Rio Olympics) include a brightly printed jacquard cocktail dress, and an easy-breezy striped silk t-shirt dress with subtle high-low hem detail. “Velvet Underground” (Fall/Winter 2016) is all about soft, stretchy black velvet with a 70’s vibe.
But she’s a big denim fan, too, “A sleek bodysuit and a cropped or flare jean with heels can take you anywhere,” she told us in a recent sit-down. Jovan’s got a high-waisted wide-leg style in her current collection that’ll give you legs for days.
Is East Falls a fashionable neighborhood? Jovan admires how locals look sharp & active in athleisure wear, “With so many people dressed for running, biking, rowing, rock climbing — you name it, this is a very health-conscious community. A great place to scope out the hottest new trainers and workout gear.”
But East Falls cleans up real nice, too: “Don’t be surprised when that lady jogging the trail every morning with her dog steps out in something fabulous later on.”
Still, we could maybe try harder, no? When pressed for comment, she allowed she’s like to see more high heels out & about here. Great shoes can totally upgrade a casual style, and elevate the whole look. And although denim is always in fashion, cuts and washes need to change with the times. It’s easy to forget how much a difference details like this can make.
One item all women should splurge on? A power dress. Jovan explained, “This is a dress that can be worn from day to evening, and always makes a statement. Similar to a man’s power tie, this dress commands attention at work, weddings, wherever. “
Change up the accessories depending on the occasion, of course, and if possible “standing next to a good-looking guy in a tie doesn’t hurt, either. 🙂 #PowerCouple”
Of course every collection Jovan designs includes such a dress, but the best part about all her garments right now is the surprisingly comfortable price point — most items are on par with, say, a department store handbag. That’s for an original piece by a talented local designer, who by the way is still taking commissions — if you’re rich and famous.
Recently, she dressed Cynthia Bailey in the Go Red for Women gala for the American Heart Association, “where celebrities modeled custom couture red dresses by the industry’s elite designers.”
And this Summer, Jovan pushed outside her comfort zone for Philly legend BlackThought, who asked her to design him a cargo-style jumpsuit to wear around LA when he was in town for the BET Awards (she also previously designed him a shirt). She’s now working on a Capsule Collection for men, and enjoying all the artistic challenges of working in menswear. Stay tuned for more items…
Jovan O’Connor Fashion Design
PS: Enjoy Jovan’s story in her own words here — from the beginning, when she fell in love with fashion as a six-year-old girl watching that part in Cinderella where the birds & mice transform her for the ball, and thinking, “I want to do that!” (Filmed in her Scotts Lane studio.)