For Tammy Jackson and Lorette Pendergrast, adding rhinestones to Pittsburgh’s blue collar is a family affair.
The mother-and-daughter design duo both sent lines down the runway last night for Pittsburgh Fashion Week. In its fifth year, Pendergrast and Jackson were a part of the largest PFW to date, with 27 designers and more than 340 models participating.
Model Miyoshi Anderson launched Fashion Week in 2009 after she saw her job opportunities in the city declining. Anderson was looking for ways to bring work to herself and other models, but then stretched out to designers, makeup artists and hair stylists.
GQ might have bestowed the title of “third worst-dressed city” on Pittsburgh in 2011 for such offenses as wearing game-day gear when its not even football season. But, with the 2014 resurfacing of non-profit Fashion Group International in Pittsburgh, Anderson believes the city will embrace fashion and fall colors other than black and gold.
“It’s going to be the adhesive along with Pittsburgh Fashion Week and other events to work together for that boom outreach,” Anderson says. “It really helps the designer focus on how they want to do their business. We want to get [their designs] into storefronts.”
While Anderson noted that Jackson is an honored veteran of Pittsburgh Fashion Week, last night was her mother’s first show.
“We decided to go in this together and do it as a team,” Pendergrast says.
Off the runway, their family tradition of fashion spans decades. Pendergrast attended the Fashion Academy of Pittsburgh while still in high school and launched her custom clothing line Lorette’s Fashions in 1980.
Jackson is a recent graduate of the Art Institute of Fashion. Inheriting her mother’s skill, Jackson began making outfits for her Barbie dolls when she was 10 years old. She now has her own ready-to-wear line, Sonni MAC, which will be available soon online as well as in select Pittsburgh boutiques.
“I didn’t think I was going to take after it. I remember there was a time I hated it, though,” Jackson says. “I guess it kind of wore off.”
Watching her daughter follow her into the industry, Pendergrast was “all smiles.”
“I sat in the front row of every show. And everybody I knew, I told them and took them with me,” Pendergrast says.
Today, their brands differ, but the connection remains visible in small details like a shared love of leather accents.
“Both of them together ping-ponging ideas off of each other is amazing to watch,” says Phylicia Tarpley, Jackson’s partner in their soon-to-be-released denim line.
Crystal geodes and the rings in a tree’s trunk inspired Jackson’s looks. One of her closing ensemble was an ultrasuede, micro-knit jumpsuit detailed with hundreds of hand-placed crystals. Her other pieces featured under-layers of leather trim to represent woodwork, a startlingly modern, constructed look from old nature.
Pendergrast worked with trims and natural colors. The highlights of her line were two turquoise ball gowns, one with a meticulously tailored mermaid fit.
Pendergast and Jackson joined designers Robin Whitner, Leslie Harris, Glenda Bonds in showcasing popular designs in Thursday’s show.
Whitner’s looks were a blend of strict tailoring and focus on patterns, a very metropolitan lux look. Leslie Harris went for a soft browns and blues with faux fur accents. Glenda Bonds designed her line collection for women over 50, including a tight denim jumpsuit that unzipped around the middle for easy changes.
Pittsburgh Fashion Week continues today with a fashion marketplace and another designer showcase at Highmark Stadium. Tomorrow, student designers will present their works at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. On Sunday, a Pittsburgh Fashion Hall of Fame luncheon will close the week at the Omni William Penn Hotel.
Although only one week out of the year, model Brooke Burchette believes PFW’s momentum will have Pittsburgh competing with Manhattan and Milan in no time.
“I think if it's you're interested in fashion, this is the city to be at,” Burchette says. “We are next in line.”
Tickets and more information can be found on http://pittsburghfashionweek.com.