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Student designers round out runway shows for Pittsburgh Fashion Week

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

 

Pittsburgh Fashion Week chose to end its week of runway shows by looking ahead to talents who could go on to fuel future Fashion Weeks in Pittsburgh and beyond.

On Day 6, the "Back to Basics" student designer runway show took place at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Downtown, before a full audience and featured the fashions of Sammi ParrishLeesa KasslerMarissa BurdAnna Montano and Khaleelah Ali Muhammad. The designers were selected from a "Project Runway"-style audition in which their work was judged for quality, creativity and craftmanship based on past designs and new ones created for the tryouts. The students also had designs displayed in the storefront windows at Macy's, Downtown, during Pittsburgh Fashion Week.

Ms. Parrish shared simple separates and fussless frocks, along with crocheted pieces including a mini skirt and moto-esque jacket. Ms. Kassler brought a bit of bling to the catwalk with her "easy clothes for the busy woman." A favorite look was a simple little white dress with pockets accented with rhinestones.

The most whimsical collection in the lineup came from Ms. Burd, who was inspired by the enchantment of "Alice in Wonderland." The fairy tale came to life through soft colors and paisley prints, silky flowing tops and pants with castle cutouts around the waistline. Ms. Burd is a recent graduate of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Silvers and blacks loaned a futuristic vibe to Ms. Montano's collection, which she said is for the strong, independent woman. Pants and skirts that gathered and draped near the top and scooped-back shirts added something fresh to these everyday staples. Ms. Muhammad closed the night with her ladylike looks for a woman's life after 5 p.m. in mind. Zebra and leopard prints added some playfulness to classic silhouettes.

Focused Fashion Consulting styled models for the evening.

The fashion design and fashion retail management program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is headed by Stephanie Taylor. The program graduated its second class of fashion design students this summer.

Pittsburgh Fashion Week concludes Sunday with the annual induction ceremony for this year's Pittsburgh Fashion Hall of Fame class at the Omni William Penn hotel, Downtown. Tickets/information: pittsburghfashionweek.com.

Sammi Parrish

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Leesa Kassler

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Marissa Burd

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Anna Montano

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Khaleelah Ali Muhammad

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School garden teaches more than gardening

Written by Doug Oster on .

 

blog 20140918dohomesbraddock3Valerie Alchier is a learning support teacher at Fairless Elementary in North Braddock. She's created a garden with the help of her students. Photos by Doug Oster

By Doug Oster / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Eight-year-old Dior Clary held an heirloom tomato the size of a baseball in both of her little hands.
“I don’t know what kind of tomato it is, but it’s green and delicious,” she said with a sweet smile.
Then she went back to harvesting from the garden at Woodland Hills’ Fairless Elementary School, where the students and their teacher, Valerie Alchier, filled up a blue bucket with beans, kale, tomatoes and other produce.
Ms. Alchier, a learning support teacher for grades 1-4, wanted her students to learn the many lessons a garden can teach.
“I wanted to do the type of project with my kids that would be hands-on, would be a fun activity [and] something they could really get into.”
From the looks on these kids’ faces, she has met her goal. Michael Finfrock, 8, couldn’t wait to pick a golden ground cherry and share its sweet flavor with a visitor.
The journey actually started two years ago at the North Braddock school. Ms. Alchier grew seedlings with her students and then donated them to community organizations. Last year, she decided to create a vegetable garden in a huge space behind the school that contained colorful park benches and not much more. She applied for and received a $2,000 grant from the Whole Kids Foundation that she used to build raised beds and get everything else needed to make a garden. With the grant came lots of organic seeds, which were supplemented with seed she saved from her own heirloom tomatoes.
The novice gardener needed to figure out which of the seeds would be best for the students. “I want to plant stuff where they are going to be able to see the results because that’s exciting for them,” she said.
In March, seeds were started in the classroom in flats, and at the end of the school year the transplants were planted out and seeds were direct-sown, too. Some of the plants looked a little sad in the spring but took off over the summer.
The garden is filled with herbs, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant, radishes, beets, cabbage, broccoli, corn, beans, pumpkins, squash, carrots, three types of beets, ground cherries and more.
Over the summer, Ms. Alchier got help in maintaining the garden from workers of the Braddock Youth Project.
Her students returned this fall to a thriving garden overrun with ripe produce.
“It’s pretty amazing because each of my kids put seeds into dirt, saw them sprout, saw them grow into a tiny plant and put those plants into this garden. When they came back, they saw how much they grew.”
Each Friday, she cooks from the garden with the kids. When Principal Jean Livingston visited, she wondered aloud if the tomatoes were ripe because many were not red.
One student called out, “Yes, they are heirloom tomatoes,” which warmed Ms. Alchier’s heart.
“I love it. They know. To be able to see them feel the excitement about heirloom tomatoes that I feel, it’s so great,” she said.
Once a week, the students are treated to a new seasonal recipe.
“I got them to eat cabbage,” she said proudly.
Her cole slaw was a big hit along with a tomato salad that incorporated mozzarella cheese, ranch dressing and garlic scape pesto.
The link between what’s harvested from the garden and what’s eaten is an important part of having a school garden, Ms. Alchier says.
“It’s incredible for them. They get to see the difference between fresh food and food out of the grocery store, what it is to grow your own food and eat it.”
When asked, most students picked tomatoes as their favorite vegetable from the garden. ‘Oxheart,’ ‘Garden Peach’ and an unnamed red striped heirloom were the top three. Ten-year-old Deangelo Halliday pondered his favorite thing, then quietly said, “Everything.”
The garden is tied to the student’s curriculum. Math, science, reading and healthy living are all part of the equation. The kids measured the beds for planting and record what’s going on in the garden.
“Good gardeners keep a journal so they know what they want to do for next year and what they want to change,” Ms. Alchier said to her students.
The success of the first garden and the lessons it taught the gardeners has her thinking about next season’s plantings. Flowers will be added and more corn will be grown. Looking over the expansive lawn, she fantasizes about what they could do.
“Eventually, my plan is there will be no more grass out there,” she said with a laugh.

 blog 20140918dohomesbraddock1Valerie Alchier works in the garden with Dior Clary, 8, who is one of her students.


Doug Oster: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-779-5861. Visit his garden blog here. Twitter: @dougoster1.

 

 

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Flowering kale adds color for fall and beyond

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog flowering kale and violas'Redbor' flowering kale make a nice focal point in this container surrounded by yellow violas. Photos by Doug Oster

As the fall season gets underway, flowering kale is one of my go to plants for the season. I love the tall variety, 'Redbor,' and grow lots of others too.

'Redbor' was bred as a food crop, but since it grows three feet tall, it's the perfect centerpiece for a container or bed.

I've had the variety live all winter long and put on pretty yellow flowers the next spring.

I'll plant on 'Redbor' in a pot and surround it with yellow violas or pansies. The plants love the cold weather and will go at least until Christmas, maybe all winter.

Other varieties of flowering kale are shorter and work great in containers or in the front of a bed. As the weather gets colder, many of the plants will become more colorful.

By choosing plants which love cold weather, gardeners can extend the season. It's place containers in full view for a visual feast when gardeners need it the most.

Seeing those beautiful colors in the winter is one thing which gets me through the season.

blog flowering red kale

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Packed house for Pittsburgh Fashion Week's final day at Highmark Stadium

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

Pittsburgh Fashion Week's final night at Highmark Stadium looked a lot like its first -- a packed house.

Few seats were left empty while a few dozen people squeezed in to stand behind the rows of chairs to view the work of five designers: DebrAnn Weiss & Co., Allison Elizabeth Designs, Bradford Mumpower, Zeina Lou Designs: High & Tight Swimwear and Xalter Zaughn.

The evening opened with a twist -- and a flip. Acrobats and dancers jumped, turned and did back handsprings down the runway in between models in the DebrAnn Weiss show, which featured formal and everyday apparel created from natural fibers with an emphasis on Alpaca and organic cottons. The show closed with a couple guest models, including Shellie Hipsky, this year's Pittsburgh Fashion Hall of Fame exceptional artist awardee.

Two designers spotlighted swimwear: Allison Elizabeth Designs and Zeina Lou Designs. The latter caters to women who crave a little extra coverage (while still wanting to feel sexy and in style) with higher-waisted bikini bottoms and tops that provide more support.

A pair of male designers rounded out the lineup. Mr. Mumpower played with bold prints and vintage-inspired silhouettes for his wonderfully wearable pieces. Xalter Zaughn largely stuck to grays and creams and clean lines for the brand's looks for men and women.

Jacqueline's Salon styled models for the night. Adding to the excitement, a casting director from the upcoming film "The Last Witch Hunter" was in the audience scouting models.

This was the first year for Pittsburgh Fashion Week to hold multiple days' events at a single venue.

"It's been helpful being at one venue," founder and executive director Miyoshi Anderson said earlier in the week. "I feel content."

Pittsburgh Fashion Week resumes for Day 6 at 7 p.m. at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Downtown, with the "Back to Basics" student designer showcase. Tickets: showclix.com.

DebrAnn Weiss & Co.

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Allison Elizabeth Designs

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Bradford Mumpower

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Zeina Lou Designs

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Xalter Zaughn

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Pittsburgh Fashion Week Shopping Edition: 5 cool vendors from Fashion Ave. market

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

FashionAvenue

The fifth annual Pittsburgh Fashion Week not only has brought together a unique mix of designers but also fashion and beauty vendors.

Each day that festivities have taken place at Highmark Stadium there's been a Fashion Avenue market place featuring jewelry, clothing, makeup and more.

Stylebook has been scouting the scene throughout the week. Here's some of the top picks:

Vintage Valet handmade jewelry

VintageValet jewelry

Marissa Zimmerman, owner of the Vintage Valet fashion truck, recently added to her mobile boutique one-of-a-kind jewelry that she makes by hand with vintage beads and cameo pins. Her truck was parked outside Highmark Stadium earlier in the week with a table of the beaded beauties for sale. Find out where Vintage Valet will be driving to next on the PG Interactive Fashion Truck Tracker Map.


ReBag

ReBag

Got old pants? Why not repurpose them! ReBag refashions clothes into handbags and laptop cases. The startup is headed by Yi Wang, a recent transplant to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to learn more.


Creative rings from Facemadics

Facemadics

Jabari Mason is CEO/president of Facemadics and specializes in creative accessories made from semi-precious stones, glass beads and other natural elements. Information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Silpada Designs statement necklace

SilpadaDesigns

For fall direct sales jewelry brand Silpada Designs introduces the Blue Streak necklace. It has blue Swarovski crystals set atop tanned leather accents with a brassy finish. $159 at mysilpada.com.


Smudge-proof lip liners from Younique Makeup

LipLiners

While the brand is known for its lash-enhancing mascara, it also boasts an impressive lip liner line that does not smudge. (Seriously, just draw a streak across your hand and rub, rub, rub -- it does not smear.) $15 a piece at youniqueproducts.com.

Tonight's event is the final day for the Fashion Avenue market place. It's free and open to the public from 5:30-9 p.m. at Highmark Stadium. Information: pittsburghfashionweek.com.

 

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