Text and images © 2006 John B. Blackford. Do not reproduce without express written permission. All rights reserved.
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Fashion Show Benefits Riegelsville Fire Company
by Anne Blackford, Bucks County Herald, 6/15/06

The Riegelsville Community Fire Company #1 played host to a dazzling fashion show on June 3, produced by Pamela Ptak, of Ptak Couture. Ptak, who resides in Durham Township, collaborated with the fire company’s Ladies’ Auxiliary to transform a building that normally houses huge fire engines into a giant tea room.

The idea of the fashion benefit came from Fran Chavar, the auxiliary’s vice president, who recalls the impressive fashion shows produced by Hess’s Department Stores from the 40s through the 60s. These shows were called Tea on the Delaware and featured popular strawberry pies.

The benefit, called Patio on the Delaware in honor of the Hess’s events, featured tiny tea sandwiches and an amazing selection of strawberry deserts produced by members of the auxiliary. Auxiliary members and their relatives also helped out as servers, hosts, and even models—helping to present more than two dozen unique fashion creations at the show, with help from some professional models.

The benefit will help purchase a thermal imaging camera for the fire company. The imager produces a black-and-white display based on heat, so a fire fighter can enter a smoke-filled room and tell instantly whether there is a person or animal present—or even whether one of the walls is dangerously hot.

The device is one of the high-tech items that have become essential to modern fire fighting, but the cost is thousands of dollars, making purchase difficult for a volunteer group like the Riegelsville fire company.

Explaining her involvement in the benefit, Ptak said she feels those living in a community should help support the fire company, and the fashion show is her way of doing so.

The fire hall was decorated, and tables set for eight were arrayed in a “U” around three sides of the building. Models walked in to the open space one by one and presented each design. When all models for a particular theme had gathered, they marched inside  the “U,” showing the designs close up.

Ptak showed couture in three segments: dayware, cocktail dresses, and formal evening wear. As a surprise, she also added an additional segment featuring creations by her new assistant, Annina King. King took part in the 2005 Arts of Fashion Competition in Paris, sponsored by Air France. Two of her creations were finalists in the U.S. national selection portion of the competition and one, a 40s style red hat, made it all the way to the final Paris competition for display at the Louvre.

At the show, Ptak explained that haut couture creations are designed for a particular individual, involving multiple fittings, as opposed to ready-to-wear clothing, sometimes incorrectly termed haut couture.

“You have to really be in love with fine stiching for the sake of it,” to be involved in haut couture, said Ptak. To demonstrate, she showed the stiching on the inner lining of the red jacket she wore at the show. It had a small gold chain stitched in to weigh it down for the ultimate fit. “These invisible touches add hours of work to designer clothes, making them fit perfectly, but adding thousands of dollars to the cost,” she said.

After the show, the auxiliary raffled off many items of jewelry and accessories donated by Ptak and other contributors.

The fire company plans other events, according to David Schreier, who heads up event planning and outreach efforts and is a fire fighter. Next up is a bluegrass festival planned for early fall, he said.

An Anita King creation
Fran Chavar (l) with models Chrissie Stauffer, Katie Matthias, and Kelly Matthias.
A few of the strawberry desserts available.
Modeling Arianna King’s award-winning hat design.
Fund-Raising Chair David Schreier gets into the act.
Part of Pamala Ptak’s collection.
Fashion at the Firehouse