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Pittsburgh Fashion Week reveals city’s unique style

By Emily Bastaroli, Point Park News Service:

Photo by Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review A model poses on the runway in an ensemble from Tanger Outlets, where the fourth night of events for Pittsburgh Fashion Week continued with the Pink Partini & Fashion Bash on Thursday, September 27, 2012 in Washington.  Proceeds from the event went to the Washington County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, with guests treated to mini massages, cocktails, a silent auction and other prizes.
A model poses on the runway for Pittsburgh Fashion Week 2012. Photo by Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review.

Spend a day in Miyoshi Anderson’s stilettos and you’ll be begging for just five seconds of rest.

Anderson is a woman of many talents: She is a model, spokeswoman, former dancer and the founder and executive director of Pittsburgh Fashion Week.

She was not initially highly involved in the fashion industry, but after suffering a serious accident that shortened her dance career, she was dared to pursue professional modeling.

Though doubtful, Anderson accepted.

“I think God has a funny way of getting us where we need to be,” Anderson said.  “It was like an avenue to my destiny.”

This initial dare ultimately led Anderson, a Pittsburgh native, to create something the city of Pittsburgh has never seen before — Pittsburgh Fashion Week. In its fourth year, the event takes place Sept. 23 to 29 at various locations in and throughout the Pittsburgh area.

The idea for Pittsburgh Fashion Week blossomed almost eight years ago after Anderson returned to Pittsburgh and saw the decline in work for local models, designers and retailers, which inspired her to create more opportunities for Pittsburgh’s fashion community. It is also the inspiration for Pittsburgh Fashion Week’s slogan of “Bringing fashion YOUR way.”

Anderson explained this as a two-fold concept of bringing models work and giving designers and retailers a platform to create fashion shows.

“The mission [of Fashion Week] is to bridge the gap between the community and companies through fashion, to connect with the city,” she said.

She said Pittsburgh Fashion Week is a seven-day event – unlike any other fashion week – that showcases work from international, Pittsburgh-based and student designers.

Local celebrities such as former Penguins hockey player Rick Tocchet, fashion icon LaMont Jones and KDKA-TV’s Kristine Sorenson will model or emcee. Also, Elise Wims, from “Hell’s Kitchen,” will serve as an emcee at Monday night’s event. There will be VIP seating, shopping and various networking events as well.

On the final day, Sun., Sept. 29, there will be a Pittsburgh Hall of Fame ceremony for the whole city to get involved. It gives Pittsburghers the chance to nominate a “Pittsburgh fashion icon.” A silent committee chooses six people.

The only major requirement is to have at least 10 years of experience in the fashion industry. This year they have a new award for an “exceptional artist, a trailblazer in the same efforts,” she said.

Although the city of Pittsburgh isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of fashion, its impact on the industry is growing, and people are noticing.

As a New York City native, Elliot Staples, the senior vice president of design for The Limited and former designer for The Gap, sees Pittsburgh rising in the fashion world.

“[Pittsburgh Fashion Week] is promoting the Pittsburgh lifestyle and the city itself as a center of culture, art, design and an influential city. Having its own fashion week launches any city into the spotlight of having to deliver, and I believe that Pittsburgh is in the beginning stages of being able to compete on a national scale,” said Staples, 44. “The success of past fashion weeks, and the consistency of design coming out of the area will only grow and increase its exposure.”

Anderson argues that Pittsburgh has always been a fashionable city. In fact, she said most of the models, designers and sponsors find her.

“They find us really credible. They want to be a part of us, and that’s phenomenal,” Anderson said. “That says a lot about Pittsburgh. Maybe the community doesn’t see the fashion, but the industry does.”

One of these sponsors is Focused Fashion Consulting, which offers a “tri-fold service of hair, makeup and wardrobe” consulting and styling, according to its website. The company is not only a sponsor, but its founder Lakisha Pattin is also a style coordinator who consults with models, makeup artists and designers.

“As a style coordinator and partner, I bring the designers’ designs to life,” Pattin said.

Pattin said she started styling people as early as middle school. To make it an official business, she created Focused Fashion in 2007. Despite the challenge of people thinking personal stylists didn’t exist in Pittsburgh, Pattin managed to build a large clientele. She said she is motivated by the end results of her work.

“To see the transformation and see [my clients] gain confidence – that’s where I get joy,” the 28-year-old said. “To see someone realize the beauty they have puts a big smile on my face.”

This is Pattin’s third Fashion Week. She said designers will showcase many styles of “different creativeness.” This year, she is working with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s student designers and said there are a lot of bold colors, prints, lines and details.

Anderson said there will be a range of looks from classic, to modern, to avante garde.

Though Anderson is always busy, she has learned to take it day-by-day.

Planning for fashion week begins a year in advance, and is “like planning seven weddings,” Anderson said. The end results are what keep her going, and she always looks forward to “going through the journey.”

“It’s a beautiful, blossoming flower when it comes to life,” she said.

For a full schedule and list of events, visit www.pittsburghfashionweek.com. Some events are free and others range from $25-$70.

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