by Bevin Theodore
Models sporting sky-high espadrilles wearing the latest fashions in vibrant spring colors walked the runway Wednesday night to celebrate the grand opening of the Shoppes at Sands, a luxury outlet mall at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.
Pops of coral and aqua were paired with classic black, white, khaki and denim. Cropped pants, tailored dresses and jumpsuits took center stage as the models showed off styles from Guess Factory Store, DKNY, Chico’s, Nine West Outlet and Ultra Diamonds, as well as downtown Bethlehem boutiques Sophistikate and Jane Roncoroni Fine Clothing.
Bold accessories such as colorful jewelry, scarves and handbags were paired with nude shoes for women. The men showed off broken-in denim with crisp shirts and sport coats. The result was a breezy spring palette in a range of styles that could go to the office or out on the town.
The sold-out crowd of more than 500, many of whom were dressed up for the event, lent the show an excitement level that would be garnered by a bigger-city fashion event. The primarily female crowd cheered with extra enthusiasm for the two male models, who were the only ones to smile while strutting.
Proceeds from the show, which coincided with fashion week in New York, will benefit the Bethlehem Area Public Library’s “Room to Grow” expansion project. Bethlehem City Council President Eric Evans said it’s a natural choice to support the library since it is such an important resource for city residents.
Janet Fricker, executive director of the library, said the child-friendly room, which is still in the planning stages, will boast low shelves, glass walls that look out over the treetops and a magical element to draw children and their families to a lifelong love of reading.
“The room is already there, but the magic isn’t there yet,” Fricker said, as she expressed her gratitude for assistance with the dream project.
Before the fashion show, attendees mingled, sampled cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed music by The Next, a band formed by American Idol contestant Tyler Grady, who previously led the band Wailing Waters.
Afterward, they had a chance to enjoy private shopping at the new stores, which include Talbots Outlet, Ultra Diamonds, Nine West Outlet, DKNY, Guess Factory Store, Lenox, Spritz Designer Fragrances, The Old Farmer’s Almanac General Store, Hartmann Luggage, Coach, Corningware Corelle and More, Chico’s and Peeps & Co. The stores are set up on two floors, more like a traditional mall and unlike a traditional outlet situation most people are accustomed to.
Evans said the opening of the outlet store illustrates the dramatic shift in the city over the past 20 years since Bethlehem Steel’s demise.
“It’s an exciting time to be in South Bethlehem,” he said. “Hundreds and hundreds of brownfields have been re-developed.”
All but seven of the 31 stores in the outlet center have been leased, according to Bob DeSalvio, president of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. New stores that are slated to open this spring include Bass, Dressbarn, Van Heusen, Izod, Tommy Hilfiger, UnderArmour and The Art of Bread by George Perrier. Hartstrings Children’s Clothing Boutique will open at the end of February.
“People like the fact that they can do their outlet shopping in the Lehigh Valley,” DeSalvio said. “We’re really happy to be able to bring it here to the city.”
The next big event for the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem complex is the May 16 opening of the Event Center, which already has a lineup of musical performances including Incubus, Alan Jackson, The Beach Boys, Blink-182, Paul Anka and Flogging Molly.
Bevin Theodore moved back to the Lehigh Valley six years ago and continues to be pleasantly surprised by the resurgence of Bethlehem and its surrounding communities.