Pittsburgh Fashion Week: Runway show marathon caps off week

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 7:20 p.m.

The Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Greentree was transformed into fashion central on Saturday.

It was the site of 15 back-to-back runway shows from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. as part of the third annual Pittsburgh Fashion Week. By 10:45 a.m., gorgeous models lined up awaiting their call to the catwalk. Styles included everything from lingerie to denim to bridal. The day showcased local designers, retailers and industry insiders for what organizers called the marathon of fashion shows.

In between shows, guests browsed the 17 booths which were part of the Fashion Avenue Vendor's Fair. Items included jewelry, clothing and stationary.

The opening act was a line called Capricorn II, designed by Marylloyd Claytor of Overbrook. She creates apparel with her dance background in mind. Her clothing seemed to flow as models took to the runway while jazz played in the background. Everything from silk tunics to a wrap skirt with various layers characterized the Capricorn II line, Claytor's zodiac sign. She designs pants that look like skirts and added sparkle to one high-low dress to give it a dressier look.

“I call the line quad-seasonal,” Claytor says. “That means you can wear it all year long. I consider my clothing line from stage to the street.”

It wasn't easy going first, Claytor says.

“I felt like there was a lot of pressure,” she says. “But I was very pleased with how the show went. I wanted my models to show how the clothing moves and because of my dance background I choose fabrics that move. People look at me funny when I am in a fabric store and I shake the fabric to see if it moves.”

While Claytor is inspired by her love of dance, Khaleelah Ali Muhammad had an idea to do a twist on lingerie. Designer of the line KAMmaze, she added some interesting details to her pieces created from charmeuse, satins and linens.

“People asked me to make lingerie, but I thought it's too common, so I thought about creating pieces that come apart with plastic snaps and Velcro, but that was still comfortable so I designed some and lounged in it to make sure it was comfortable,” says the North Side resident. “And then once I made the women's line I was asked to make some pieces for the guys too.”

One designer who has participated in multiple events for the week-long fashion event is C. Brown Customer Clothier.

The company, owned by cousins Carly and Corey Brown, was part of Tuesday's ManStyle show at the Senator John Heinz History Center, a midday show Saturday and had a booth at the vendor's fair.

“I would say it was a success, especially the ManStyle show,” Carly Brown says. “We have gotten great feedback and people are surprised that we have only been open a little over a year. And they say how nice our designs are.”

Corey Brown says they tried to offer a variety of looks from dress to casual to conservative and that the exposure through Pittsburgh Fashion Week has been amazing.

Denim designer Paula Minydzak from West Mifflin was a little skeptical about participating in terms of who might be in the audience interested in buying from her collection. She was somewhat disappointed in the attendance, which numbers from 50 to 100 for the early shows but picked up as the day went on.

“I would say the experience wasn't bad, but I just think that they need to be a little more organized,” Minydzak says. “I thought there would be more people. I was a little saddened by that. I also would have preferred a fully lit room because you get a better visibility of the clothes. And then put on a spotlight or two.”

She featured looks from jeans paired with a jacket to a denim skirt and red paisley shirt to denim lounge pants paired with lace to a denim corset and fog cape and denim dress. Her designs are made from mid-weight denim purchased directly from the American Cotton growers.

The vendors didn't see a lot of shoppers early on either. Designer Monika Gibson created the clothing line ZuzaBlue which she describes as urban oriented.

“Things have been kind of slow, “ she says. “I thought there would be more people who I could talk to in terms of getting some ideas of how to help grow my business and help me to focus on my clothing and fashion. But it has still been a good experience and I am glad I decided to be a part of it.”

Fashion Week executive director Miyoshi Anderson says she realizes the turnout earlier in the day was not what she expected. The crowd had reach 150 for the 4 p.m. show where Noa Wolff-Fineout showed her company Matia Collections. Wolff-Fineout is senior at Winchester Thurston and this was her first in a fashion week-type setting. She featured her spring 2013 line which consisted of pastel palettes and feminine-inspired dresses and blouses.

“It was pretty exciting,” says Wolff-Fineout, an Edgewood resident who invited her friends as well as professionals to model. “It was amazing. This is totally different than anything I have ever done. I felt like a professional. I hope to use this show as a gateway into the industry.”

The focus of the day was on giving designers such as Wolff-Fineout who may never have shown before a place to experience what a fashion show is like, says Dottie McAllise, fashion week business manager for Fashion Week.

“These individuals as so creative and someone needed to give them a chance to show their wonderful designs,” McAllise says. “Sometimes you can't just think about the money you are going to make. …You have to think about being the place where these designers can show off their fashions and get a start in the fashion business. If we don't do that for them, who will?”

The evening was capped off with shows by students at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a bridal show by Carrie Ann's Bridal Boutique in Canonsburg and a petite and plus perfection show featuring Steinmart.

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

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