Pittsburgh Fashion Week makes its way to the runway
By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
Published: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Fashion Week gets around. And that's been a good thing, planners and participants say.
The six-day event that celebrates its fourth year of style Sept. 23 to 29 has held chic fashion shows all over the city — and beyond — from Downtown venues to the outlets in Washington County.
“Showcasing our city's style at various sites has been my vision since Day One, before we found a model to walk the first runway,” founder and executive director Miyoshi Anderson says. “When I first thought about starting Pittsburgh Fashion Week, I wanted it to be an event that included many venues.”
Anderson says she likes moving around to different areas and communities. It helps to highlight not only the fashion that's here in terms of designers and boutiques, but the venues the city has to offer.
“And as each year goes by, I look back and see what venues worked and what we need to do differently,” Anderson says. “We don't want to be stagnant. We want to continue to be fresh and new — just like the latest collections in the fashion world.”
This year, fashion week will dress up in the South Side, Strip District, Downtown and Washington County. All but two venues are new. Tanger Outlets in Washington County will host its second annual show Sept. 26 and Pittsburgh Fashion Week's Hall of Fame luncheon will once again be held at the Omni Hotel, Downtown, on Sept. 29.
Opening night takes place at Highmark Stadium, where the Riverhounds soccer team plays. Designers Debi Weiss, Faith Pongracz and Alicia Akrie will showcase their lines.
“I am excited about this show and being part of opening night,” says Akrie, who is from Chartiers City and a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design. “I like that the event has been in many areas of the city. That is important, especially in Pittsburgh, because Pittsburgh is not a place where everything happens in a certain area. If you have it more places, that will create even more attention to Pittsburgh having its own fashion week.
“I love the choice of a stadium,” she says. “It gives designers freedom because of its size and openness.”
The runway will be set up inside in the banquet facility at the stadium inside on the second floor.
“We have a really unique space here at Highmark Stadium, and I believe that Pittsburgh Fashion Week is really capitalizing on this,” says Sara Guffey, the stadium's event manager. “We have yet to have an event of this nature at the stadium, and we're really excited to see the transformation from Riverhounds' stomping ground to Pittsburgh couture.”
In conjunction with opening night is the Vendor's Fair, where several companies will showcase their wares. Penn Avenue Eyewear is one of them.
“The more exposure you can get through various venues the better,” says Caitlin Northup, creative director for the eyewear company that creates its own glasses lines and sells online. “Pittsburgh is a fashion town, and there are a lot of great designers and boutiques in this city. Moving to different sites gives you a chance to showcase our fashion style across the city.”
Tanger Outlets was thrilled to be a part for a second year.
“We are so excited to once again be associated with Pittsburgh Fashion Week,” says Jodi Dague, Tanger Outlets general manager, who hosted a standing-room-only show last year and who has a lot of customers from the Pittsburgh area. “The timing of fashion week is perfect for us wanting to do a fashion event to support the American Cancer Society. It is also great that Miyoshi is willing to go outside of Pittsburgh to have a fashion show.”
This will be the first time Macy's is doing its own show during Pittsburgh Fashion Week on Sept. 25. The store has participated in prior shows with other shops.
“We are so thrilled to be part of Pittsburgh Fashion Week,” says Joe Hladiuk, Macy's Downtown store manager. “Obviously, being the dominant retailer in Pittsburgh, it is important to support such a fashion event. It's a great opportunity to partner for both of us.”
That's the way Stephanie Taylor, department chair fashion retail management and fashion design, at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh feels. Six of her students will be part of back-to-back runway shows Sept. 28 and will showcase an outfit in the windows at Macy's and at the store's event. It means a lot to the fashion-design students to be on such a big stage, she says. Students have been involved before, but this is the first time the school is hosting one of the events.
“There are a lot of things happening in fashion in Pittsburgh, and we are honored to be involved with Pittsburgh Fashion Week,” Taylor says. “Pittsburgh Fashion Week is the core of fashion in this city, and bringing all of these style events to one week of shows will further promote the fashion community in Pittsburgh.”
Anderson hopes so.
“Pittsburgh Fashion Week is growing,” she says. “It has been a slow growth, which is OK. Pittsburgh is a more conservative city when it comes to fashion, but more and more people know about Pittsburgh Fashion Week, and that's the goal — getting the word out by expanding our reach in terms of designers and boutiques as well as geographical areas.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.
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