Pittsburgh's Fashion Week opening night scores at Highmark Stadium

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 10:21 p.m.

A soccer stadium transformed as a fashion arena.

Opening night of Pittsburgh Fashion Week on Sept. 23 saw models strut the runway at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

A trio of local designers – Alicia Akrie, Debi Weiss and Faith Pongracz – entertained 300 guests with styles that included LED lights, reusable materials, foil eyebrows and clothing made from alpaca.

Akrie was up first with a line was inspired by Samurai sword and armor.

“I was so ecstatic,” Akrie said after the show. “My models did a great job relaying the scene I wanted to portray. It was a neat venue and I got to meet so many fashionable people. I would love to do this again.”

Akrie, participating in Fashion Week for the first time, saw foil eyebrows on Pinterest and incorporated the look with silver eye shadow to pop her dark designs. She consulted with makeup artists at Studio Booth to help emphasize the eyes.

Weiss, in her third year of Fashion Week, worked on a “fashion with art” theme. She incorporated LED lights and masks to her clothing made from alpaca and organic cotton.

“Having fashion shows at a sports facility worked great,” Weiss said. “Sports are about timing and fashion shows take perfect timing. Athletes practice a lot and so do models. It was an interesting concept when I first thought about it. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought this was the perfect venue.”

Fashion Week executive director Miyoshi Anderson didn't think twice about having fashion shows at a sports venue.

“Pittsburgh is a sports, arts and fashion kind of city,” said Anderson, a former model, who walked the runway before the shows started. “I saw this venue as a blank canvas and that the possibilities were endless. We had three fabulous shows. All three designers brought something unique to the night and that Pittsburgh could enjoy. They were all very different, but they complemented each other because they showed their amazing talents.”

Pongracz's line was the finale. She featured male models in head wear made of reusable material, all with hearts covering their lips. She uses hearts because, she says, she is inspired by love.

“The night was amazing,” said Pongracz, who has been participated in previous Fashion Week shows. “It was nice to see a variety of fashion presented and Highmark Stadium was such a cool venue and a welcoming space.”

Before, during and after the shows, vendors sold their wares. Included were Maria Sansone of Trend Style Shop in New Castle and The Vintage Valet, a fashion truck owned by Marissa Zimmerman, which offers contemporary clothing that's vintage inspired.

Sansone said she was eager to be part of the event. She specializes in clothing brands that are hard to find.

“This is exciting that Pittsburgh has a Fashion Week,” she said.

Zimmerman agreed.

“It keeps growing every year,” said Zimmerman, who volunteered in the past. “It is important for our city to have its own fashion week and this is a great way to expose fashion in Pittsburgh.”

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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