Savoy in the Strip District has added a new entree to its award-winning menu -- forums where locals can get the scoop on what's happening in fashion and tips on how to break into the industry.
The inaugural "Fashion and Fire" get-together took place Friday and Saturday, with celebrity appearances by famed Ralph Lauren model Tyson Beckford on the first night and Olivia of VH1's "Love & Hip Hop" at the second gathering.
On Friday, the intimate bar and lounge looked more like a movie premiere as photographers swarmed Mr. Beckford, clad in deep blue plaid and a leather vest. ("I got Ralph Lauren on now from head to toe. He's still an inspiration in my life," he said.) The evening opened with a casual cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres, followed by a Q&A session.
The crowd of Art Institute students, media and aspiring models, designers, stylists and photographers raised questions that ranged from how Mr. Beckford feels about social media (he uses Twitter but not Facebook -- yet), who his favorite designers are (Ralph Lauren and DSQUARED2), and what his relationship with designer Ralph Lauren is like. "He's like a dad to me," he said. "I'm like his black son."
He also offered practical advice, such as how to organize a modeling portfolio, find an agency and brand yourself.
"It's about getting out there and not being shy and chasing your dream," he said. "So what someone shuts the door on you? When one door shuts, another one opens."
While laughter and smiles dotted much of the conversation, the discussion delved into more serious topics at times. Mr. Beckford shared his plans to visit Africa and document the genocide plaguing its people and his efforts to rally consumers to confront designers about featuring primarily Caucasians in their runway shows and ad campaigns.
"You could probably drive down the street and count how many times you don't see an African-American or Asian or Latino in an ad because they don't market to us," he said, adding that there aren't many Naomis or Tyras or Tysons on the scene anymore.
He encouraged people to tweet or write their favorite designers and ask for ads that better reflect society's diversity. "We as consumers are the only ones who can change it."
Visit savoypgh.com for updates on future events.
Send style and fashion events to Sara Bauknecht at email@example.com . First Published January 24, 2012 5:00 AM