When Wadria Taylor arrived at the University of Pittsburgh from New York City 10 years ago, she looked around for the fashion scene in her new city and found it to be threadbare.
Now 28, Ms. Taylor is the mind behind Style Week, hosted by her event-planning company Style & Steel, that will bring Pittsburgh designers, boutiques and businesses together to promote the local fashion industry.
Five days of fashion shows, parties and give-aways begin tonight with a Champagne Launch from 6 to 10 p.m. at Perle in Market Square, Downtown.
Style Week should be a taste of a fashion culture Ms. Taylor says is growing in Pittsburgh but just isn't as accessible or noticeable as the style scene in a larger metropolitan area.
"We need more," Ms. Taylor said. "We need more than Style Week."
But bringing events like Style Week to the city is why Ms. Taylor stayed in Pittsburgh, rather than moving back to a more prominent fashion scene.
She's become plugged in to the local boutiques, designers and upscale events, and she's energetic about up-and-coming neighborhoods like Lawrenceville -- "That's the next neighborhood to watch," she said. And she wants to help the city's residents be plugged in too.
"I'm not trying to make Pittsburgh a next New York or a next Miami," Ms. Taylor said. "I'm looking at what is unique and great about Pittsburgh and bringing it to the mainstream."
"Glam bags" for guests and a fashion show from Pittsburgh-based designer Lana Neumeyer at tonight's event are just the first sip of champagne this week. On Thursday evening, the Pittsburgh Winery at 2815 Penn Ave. in the Strip District will host a night of wine flights and the "Superwomen in Heels" style awards to honor Pittsburgh's top women in fashion.
Friday's Decades fashion show will again feature the work of local designers on the runway at Strip District nightclub Cavo, 1916 Smallman St., ending with a collection by student designer Sofiya Mozley. Ms. Mozley's featured spot in the show represents the springboard that Pittsburgh could be for young people in fashion, Ms. Taylor said.
"What [Ms. Mozley] can do here is cultivate her craft as well as encourage other designers. I think it's important to plant the seed and show others there is opportunity here and there is a foundation that can be cultivated that can take you to the next level," Ms. Taylor said.
Shoppers can participate in a boutique crawl through Squirrel Hill and Downtown from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, and a Beauty Boot Camp at Lala's Salon at 6027 Broad St. in East Liberty will close the week with facials, hair and makeup makeovers and styling demonstrations from local professionals.
Female fashionistas aren't the only guests Ms. Taylor wants to see during Style Week. A Pinstripes to Cuffs fashion showcase for men at SAVOY at 2623 Penn Ave. in the Strip District will follow the Beauty Boot Camp on Sunday. Male stylists -- and a cigar bar -- will be on site for men looking for sizing or fashion advice.
"Guys, when they think about fashion or fashion shows, they feel like they're not included or there's not a place for them and they might not even know how to receive it," she said.
Tickets to Style Week events can be purchased separately, or guests can buy a Style Pass for all five days.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.styleandsteel.net or call 412-208-0249.
"[Pittsburghers] should attend Style Week because it's fashion and it's fun," Ms. Taylor said. "They get to see what is premiering and exclusive and wonderful in style here."