Stylebook: Style Week Pittsburgh delivers strong events in fourth year
August 22, 2016 12:00 AM
Models show off 1920's-inspired fashions by Pittsburgh-based designers James Houk and Leesa Kassler on Thursday at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland for the first day of Style Week Pittsburgh 2016.
Models show off 1960's-inspired fashions by Pittsburgh-based designers James Houk and Leesa Kassler during a runway show Thursday night at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland. The event marked the start of Style Week Pittsburgh 2016.
Style Week Pittsburgh founder Wadria Taylor.
A model showcases a dress inspired by the Roaring Twenties during the Style Week Pittsburgh kick-off runway show Thursday at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland.
A model wears a dress by Pittsburgh-based designer James Houk during the opening runway show of Style Week Pittsburgh 2016 on Thursday in the Carnegie Museum of Art music hall foyer in Oakland.
Shellie Hipsky walks the runway during the opening fashion show of Style Week Pittsburgh 2016 Thursday in the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Josy Nkuissi wears a feather-trimmed dress by Pittsburgh-based designer Leesa Kassler at the kick-off runway show for Style Week Pittsburgh 2016 on Thursday in the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Guests, such as Chelse Dungee, dressed in 1920's-inspired fashions for the Style Week Pittsburgh kick-off runway show on Thursday in the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Patrice McKenzie, left, and Dominique Luster, dressed in 1920's-inspired fashions for the Style Week Pittsburgh kick-off runway show on Thursday in the Carnegie Museum of Art.
Shawn Green, left, and Michael Butler were among the sharply-dressed guests at the Style Week Pittsburgh kick-off runway show on Thursday.
By Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Believe it or not, most months out of the year there’s a fashion function almost every weekend in Pittsburgh. Therefore, it can be tough for an event to shape its identity and be more than just a blip on the social scene.
Style Week Pittsburgh proved that it’s a fashionable force to be reckoned with. Its fourth year of festivities, which spanned Thursday through Sunday, demonstrated its greatest growth and marked improvement.
The opening night runway show was arguably Style Week’s strongest to date. The Carnegie Museum of Art’s music hall foyer was a stunning backdrop for the ’20s- and ’60s-themed fashion show featuring striking looks inspired by those eras by Pittsburgh-based designers James Houk and Leesa Kassler. A small exhibit of photos from the museum’s Charles “Teenie” Harris archive and vintage ensembles from local boutiques provided additional insights into the styles from past decades.
What elevated the experience was the showmanship and production quality. Like the fashions, music was a mix of oldies and current tunes with a retro vibe that had many grooving in their seats or clapping along to the beat. Another nice touch was the choreography by Synergy Performing Arts Academy in Canonsburg. Rather than models just marching down the catwalk, they mixed in a few dance moves from the two eras that kept the audience energized and the show well paced.
On Day Two, people packed inside Culture Restaurant on Seventh Street, Downtown, for the annual Style Awards, which recognized some of the city’s top fashion influencers, including boutique owners, stylists, bloggers and photographers. This event appears to still be experiencing growing pains. While it continues to draw more and more attendees, it has yet to find the right venue. While Culture is a cool new hangout, it was a bit noisy, cramped and stuffy, with guests spilling out the front and side doors during the ceremony. Perhaps a ballroom in one of the city’s boutique hotels or a restaurant with private banquet space could be a more comfortable option next time.
The action moved to the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh in East Liberty on Saturday for live music, body art by Sarah Zeffiro and displays from about a dozen of the city’s street wear and vintage brands. Style Week Pittsburgh also teamed with Studio RAW in Ross to give makeovers to a handful of people who identify as transgender and gender fluid. The hip, fit-for-Brooklyn flavor of it all kept the party going until midnight. On Sunday, Style Week Pittsburgh wrapped with a networking brunch at the new Revel + Roost restaurant near Market Square.
Founder Wadria Taylor started Style Week Pittsburgh to spotlight some of the city’s hidden gems in fashion and the arts. It was refreshing to discover venues, vendors and designers that are new, or up and coming. Plus, they were presented through gatherings that ran smoothly and had something unique to offer night after night.
Style Week Pittsburgh also should be commended for the cross section of folks -— black, white, young, old, city dwellers, suburbanites, gay, straight — it brings together. In a city that’s often criticized for being too fragmented (at least when it comes to its fashion community), it was encouraging to see new connections being made over a cocktail or a pop-up shop purchase.
Keep up the solid work, Style Week Pittsburgh!
For more updates from Style Week Pittsburgh, plus a list of this week’s fashion events, visit the Post-Gazette’s fashion blog Stylebook at www.post-gazette.com/stylebook. Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.
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