Second Pittsburgh Fashion Week wraps up with plenty of sparkle
Pittsburgh became a little more stylish this week.
The city was treated to a variety of fashion events during the second annual Pittsburgh Fashion Week, including 17 runway shows Friday and Saturday at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, Green Tree, followed by Sunday's Hall of Fame luncheon at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown.
Weekend runways styles encompassed everything from wearable to the extreme. Hot colors were blue and red, as well as a mix of black and white. Lace and feather accents filled the runways on dresses with lengths from mini to the floor, some with high slits and plenty with lots of sparkle. Many had exposed backs while others were covered in fur. All created head-turning looks.
One designer went far outside the box with models' faces covered with stockings while another used boning and elastic for costumes for a pre-show performance.
"You have to make something that's crazy and not safe," said local designer M.J. Whalen, who designed costumes for the pre-show. "I don't like safe. I like to make a statement. And I would love to see Pittsburgh Fashion Week continue. When you do a fashion week, you need to start the week off making a statement and end the week making a statement and then have some amazing shows in between. And you need to start the day after this year to get ready for next year."
The runways weren't yet cleared before there was talk of 2012.
"Next year is already in the works, absolutely," said Miyoshi Anderson, founder and executive director of Pittsburgh Fashion Week. "There have been people who have come up to me with ideas that they want to do new for next year. They are exciting ideas, phenomenal ideas that will take this to the next level.
"I had my original vision and last year served that vision," she said . "This year has been even more than I expected, and 2012 is going to be a daunting task to do something better. But the more I think about it, the more I say to myself, there is no limit to what Pittsburgh Fashion Week can do and become."
The event has already grown with higher attendance numbers this year versus last, Anderson said.
Things were much more organized this year, said Diane Dube, owner of Petite Plus by Diane Dube in Shadyside, who was part of the weekend runway shows.
"Having all the shows in one room was more cohesive than last year when shows were in two places," she said. "The room was laid out better. When you are dealing with designers, you are dealing with artists who spend a lot of time focused on their designs. So, if you make their shows run smoothly, they will come back."
The woman behind the organization is Dottie McAlisse, director of business affairs for Pittsburgh Fashion Week. She took the job eight weeks after the end of last year's event.
"I am a person of vision and I let the Lord instruct me," McAlisse says. "It all came together, thanks to the hard work of the volunteers and designers and models as well as the people who take care of all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Organization is key to putting on an event like this and you have to take care of every detail."
The weekend shows were well-attended both days, with Saturday night's Eco-Chic fashion show drawing close to the 400-seat capacity. It was one of 11 events that day. That show and auction included a pre-show performance called "Earth, Wind and Fire," produced by Jlynn Productions with Whalen's costumes. That title was chosen to play off the word "eco" and saving the world and the earth. It was about natural beauty and contained elements of fashion and dance.
"There is more interest in fashion week from last year and talk of next year already," said Jennifer Noah, owner of Jlynn Productions. "So, that means more pressure to do something better than you did the year before."
That means starting today for next year, Whalen said, to create an original production that takes your show to the next level.
Guests were treated to the bold and colorful designs of Brazilian Lana Neumeyer of O'Hara, whose models danced and shimmied down the runway in outfits with ornate and colorful headwear. Her fashions were created from recyclable materials.
Designer Days Boutique, a resale shop in Shadyside, showcased some of its bargain-priced high-end fashions.
Both nights ended with a 45-minute show of 40 furs from Macy's. Fur looks followed trends with ponchos, vests and colors.
Modeling furs was Maria Evankovich, 14, from Franklin Park.
"I love it," she said. "I love the runway. I love the lights and the cameras. It's a lot of work, but I want to do more modeling. Those furs felt so good. I really love Pittsburgh Fashion Week and can't wait to do it next year."
Her sentiments were representative of models, designers and guests who attended one or many of the events of the past week.
"Consistency is the key to success in anything you do," said Golden Skyy, a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and one of the designers who showed his line this weekend. "Repetition with a positive attitude will keep something going strong. When I came here five years ago, there wasn't much fashion in Pittsburgh. But through the work of Miyoshi, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh people are more aware of fashion in Pittsburgh."
Having the Art Institute is a plus for the city, said Chris Jordheim of Shaler, who attended seven shows this past week. His 16-year-old daughter, Emily, modeled.
"I think Pittsburgh Fashion Week is an amazing thing," he said. "We have a school of fashion design so we need a place to showcase it. There are some really great designers here. My daughter watches 'America's Top Model,' which means I have seen a lot of those shows. So, when I am at Pittsburgh Fashion Week, I can see which fashions are going to make it."
Jordheim said there are people who aren't from here who have a vision of what they think Pittsburgh is like, but Pittsburgh has gone through a metamorphosis over the past years.
The city has and has always had fashionable people, said Linda Bucci, owner of Linda Bucci in Shadyside, who attended some shows and was one of the honorees yesterday at the hall of fame luncheon. Others include Carol Kinkela of Carabella, the Trib's Jean Horne, Philip Pelusi, Patricia Deems and Lamont Jones.
Bucci said she was amazed when she read that Pittsburgh was the third worst-dressed city, according to GQ magazine.
"I don't know where they were looking," Bucci said. "I do know there are a lot of fashionable women here who are chic and on trend. And there are plenty of men in Pittsburgh who know how to dress, because everyone wants to look good and feel good with what you are wearing."