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Filling Her Philly Fashion Plate

September 30, 2010 By:
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On the Huntress: Paula Shapiro (left) and Kei Zemlicka heat up the fashion business.

The design business is not for the fashion weak, which says much for Lower Moreland's Paula Shapiro that she's reached its upper echelon.

Indeed, the Upper Dublin graduate has proved a class act with accolades from the design elite for filling her fashion plate with casual, cost-effective yet high-end appearing apparel courtesy of the Huntress, the New York-based firm she runs with business partner Kei Zemlicka.

Models of business efficiency -- collecting customers and honors -- they will show the collection line locally with a benefit for the Jewish Family and Children's Service in "PHashion and PHilanthropy," in the upcoming months.

Playing dress up? They cast an eye on what it means to be new-millennium modern -- and comfortable, says Shapiro of the designs that she and her partner have pitted against the best and brightest in fashion.

After all, this is the duo whose denim leggings have a leg up on others, says "The Fashionista" of examiner.com! , naming their item one of "the coolest things for the hottest summer" just passed.

Seek the sizzle? It helps to put in the sweat and effort, which Shapiro did for five years "producing women's collections for Tommy Hilfiger."

But she had designs of doing her own work -- "I always had dreams of working in fashion," going back to her Upper Dublin days -- and found the right fit during a lengthy layover in Hong Kong, where she and colleague Zemlicka -- who designed for Hilfiger -- decided looking good while being worn out are not incompatible images."We wanted women -- and there are so many women in professions -- to have something that would make them comfortable and feel good wherever they are, especially when they have to be on their A game."

Pity the fool who's a fashion flop. The two hopped the plane, and their ideas took flight.

"We had spent so much time in so many countries," relays Shapiro of their globe-trotting travels for Hilfiger, "that we knew the importance of looking comfortable and looking good."

Lookin' good -- their prospects have certainly shaped up since addressing that need with playsuits, tunics and slip-on dresses that allow the hours to slip away without clothing seeming a hardship, she allows.

The "little bulb" that went off in their heads at the airport has them electrifying the industry.

The fabric of her own life is very much Jewishly oriented as Shapiro proudly talks of her ties to the Young Jewish Professionals group in New York, where she says she loved "being part of bringing together Jewish people in the business."

The hunt is on to succeed in a tough but oh-so-profitable business, where runways can provide runaway fortunes. But why the Huntress?

"The huntress is defined as a fierce woman hunter living a full life" with a need for even more, explains Shapiro.

And that, adds the wardrobe warrior, is a role model that suits her well. 

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