When Wadria Taylor moved to Pittsburgh about a decade ago to attend the University of Pittsburgh, she was a New Yorker in a new city.
"I had no preconceived or prior experiences with Pittsburgh," she said. Compared to the diversity of people -- and their fashions -- she was accustomed to seeing in Brooklyn, Pittsburgh "was initially a culture shock."
She turned to event planning to help her settle into her new home and to encourage people of varied backgrounds to dress up and come out for a night of fashionable fun. A few years ago she founded Style and Steel event planning, which coordinates fashion and corporate events for local businesses and charities.
This week, Ms. Taylor will hold what's arguably her most ambitious fashion event to date, the first Style Week Pittsburgh. For five days, she will orchestrate fashion-focused events at venues across the city, starting Wednesday with a red carpet fashion show and jewelry showcase at Perle in Market Square.
What distinguishes Style Week from some of the city's other annual fashion events, Ms. Taylor said, is that it targets members of the local fashion scene rather than the public at large, with outings centered around networking. She also hopes it will help stir excitement for other fashion events, such as Pittsburgh Fashion Week, which returns for its fourth year Sept. 23-29.
She got the idea for Style Week Pittsburgh while on vacation in Jamaica, where she lived before New York. The founder of KingstonStyle.com told her about a version of the event coming to Kingston.
"I just had a light bulb moment where I said, 'I need to do something like this in Pittsburgh,' " Ms. Taylor said.
It has taken her about four months to map out the inaugural event. She picked locations, such as the Pittsburgh Winery, CAVO and SAVOY restaurant in the Strip District, so Style Week could bring fashion to places that people might not expect. Events also will feature designers and stylists from the local fashion community.
Pittsburgh-based designer Lana Neumeyer will fill the opening night's fashion show with Brazilian flair with her colorful eco-friendly designs. On Thursday, some of the city's fashion elite will be recognized at the Superwomen in Heels Style Awards, which will salute top women in fashion design, photography, makeup and more, as voted on by the public. Looks by another Pittsburgh designer, Sofiya Mozley, will be among those spotlighted at Friday's fashion show Decades, a snapshot of fashions from the 1970s through today.
The weekend will kick off Saturday with a boutique crawl and scavenger hunt at select shops in Squirrel Hill and Downtown from noon to 5 p.m. Mobile boutiques Broke Little Rich Girl and Style Truck also will be on the streets. Style Week will close Sunday with a beauty boot camp at Lala's Salon in East Liberty, followed by a Pinstripes to Cuffs fashion showcase and cigar bar for men at SAVOY. Pittsburgh-based stylist Philip Pelusi, of Philip Pelusi Salons, will style models' hair for some of the events.
The response has been so far so good, Ms. Taylor said. Ticket sales have been steady, and on Monday, city councilman and Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Peduto presented a proclamation honoring Style Week Pittsburgh.
Ms. Taylor is encouraged by the growth she's noticed in Pittsburgh fashion, such as the increase in local mobile boutiques and independent shops in neighborhoods such as Lawrenceville to a recent effort to bring to the city a chapter of the global nonprofit Fashion Group International.
"I think we are seeing more innovation and definitely more variety in terms of what's offered here. What we have to continue to work on in Pittsburgh is really expanding awareness," she said. "With Style Week, my goal is really looking to push Pittsburgh more into the mainstream and showcasing these gems that are more hidden."
Marina Weis contributed to this report. Sara Bauknecht: email@example.com or on Twitter @SaraB_PG. First Published August 6, 2013 4:00 AM