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Fashion and music combine at Mr. Small's

Art Institute students showcase clothes at house-music show

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Pittsburgh isn't known as the most fashion-forward city. Last year, GQ panned our general style, using the phrase "game-day casual." We have a fashion week, but it's nothing like the party-fueled atmosphere of New York, Milan, London or Paris. 

This weekend, however, Pittsburgh gets a taste of the big time with an event that seeks to cross dance music with fashion. Designers Elaine Healy, Makayla Wray, Romina Mirella Vairo and Alex Beitler have teamed up with Obvious Modern Party Music for an event that showcases house music, art and fashion.

"It's so intertwined," says Healy, reflecting on music and fashion. "One of the main things is that the rate of change in both worlds are the same. When you're really paying attention to both, you just see how it all evolves together. They're always ..."

"On beat!" Wray says, finishing Healy's sentence. 

The two designers, both currently studying fashion design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, have a natural rapport from spending so many hours in the studio together. With divergent tastes and styles — Healy is detail-oriented and feminine, and Wray a '90s street queen — their relationship is proof that tastes have little to do with camaraderie. Music, though, is one arena where they feed each other.

"When I'm working on a collection, I'll obsessively listen to things," says Healy. Her music tastes fall somewhere in the realm of the U.K. bass scene associated with former pirate-radio station Rinse FM and the dirty house music of the upcoming event's headliner, Claude VonStroke, and his Dirtybird label.

"And I've definitely been stealing some of her playlists," Wray adds. "You have to listen to music when you're working. If not, your brain will be unbounded."

"The music has such an important role," Healy emphasizes. "I don't want to feel like these clothes are [just] coming down the runway while this song is playing. I want [the music and clothes] to complement each other."

The four designers will showcase their work, set to carefully selected tunes, early in the event. Also on display will be visual art by local artists, some of whom — like Casey Hallas and James Gyre — have connections to the music scene.

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