Designer Days benefit in Monroeville cause to shop

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 9:03 p.m.

Designer fashions take center stage at the Monroeville Convention Center next week.

Gently worn — and new — designer clothing, shoes and accessories for women, men and children will be featured at the 42nd annual Designer Days, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section.

The annual four-day shopping event kicks off Thursday with a patron party called “NCJW Playbill: A Checkout Line.”

An all-star cast of high-end names includes Missoni, Fendi, Burberry, Armani, Rag & Bone, Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, Theory, Lafayette 148, Michael Kors, Pucci and Oscar de la Renta. The shopping extravaganza's newest addition is an exclusive area of Escada and St. John items as part of the Designer Days Boutique.

This event offers fashionistas a chance to search for that designer dress, shirt, suit, shoe, handbag or piece of jewelry — and avoid designer prices.

Racks and racks of clothing and accessories will fill the 24,000 square feet of space at the convention center. Everything is labeled from sizes to item type so shoppers can browse easily and see how clothing looks in one of the large dressing-room areas.

“Shopping at Designer Days is a wonderful experience,” says customer Carole Bailey of Squirrel Hill. “It is pretty amazing what you can find there.”

Cast and crew of the event include members of the NCJW and supporters of the organization. Designer Kiya Tomlin is honorary chairwoman.

At the Patron Party, the night before the sale officially opens to the public, six outstanding volunteers will be honored. Those attending can enjoy wine, hors d'oeuvres and desserts, while browsing the latest fur styles from Carl Herrmann.

Customers say the event is successful every year because members of the planning committee inspect each piece before it is made available for sale. Even though items have been worn before, they don't look like it. No missing buttons or rips in the material are found here.

“We make sure to look at each piece carefully,” says Jennifer Honig, a council board member. “We are fortunate because most of the donations we receive are in good condition.”

Even though it's resale, Honig says, you can find pieces that are on trend, such as leather pants and skirts, skinny jeans, motorcycle jackets, vests, cocktail dresses, booties, oversize handbags and statement necklaces. You will find colors that are hot this fall, too, from burgundy and deep green to burnt orange and purple.

The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the council. It raises money to support projects and advocacy aimed at helping women, children and families.

“Designer Days helps us help women and families in need,” says Mindy Schwartz Hedges, executive director of the organization. “Our mission is to help women achieve economic independence through our programs and services. Designer Days is a key source of these funds. This event would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers. They are wonderful, and we could not do it without them. We are thrilled to honor six of them at this year's patron event — ‘A Checkout Line.' ”

Drag queens will be in costumes at the patron soiree where attendees get first dibs on the 10,000-plus items.

The council also has locations where you can shop year-round. The Designer Days Boutique is an upscale women's consignment store in Squirrel Hill. NCJW Home Consignments, a furniture consignment store, and Thriftique are in Swissvale.

“Shopping at Designer Days is fun and exciting because you get to look at all the items, and you don't know what you will find,” says Linda Wills, manager of Designer Days Boutique and director of Designer Days and special events. “It is like looking for treasure. You also feel good, because you are shopping and helping a good cause.”

Designer Days allows people to buy designer brands they could have never imagined owning, Honig says.

“I have always wanted a Chanel suit. Designer Days could be the perfect opportunity to find that suit, which I would never pay full price for,” Honig says. “I have found so many wonderful deals over the years. The search for that one special piece is part of the fun. It's an event I look forward to every year.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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