The Pittsburgh Opera Brings the “Theater of Fashion” to the Runway | Fashion | Pittsburgh

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The Pgh Opera 2020 fashion show: roses and thorns - PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHY DAVID BACHMAN

Photo: Photograph by David Bachman

The Pgh Opera 2020 fashion show: Roses and thorns

In recent years, Pittsburgh has become a more fashionable city. Many designers across the region are supplying the Pittsburgher with unique hand-sewn or hand-painted items. Stores and boutiques are attracting big names. A city that was once ridiculed for its fashion is experiencing a moment.

One of the shop owners who have been bringing eclectic clothes to Pittsburgh for over 35 years is Richard Parsakian, owner of Eons Fashion Antique in Shadyside, which specializes in vintage clothing and accessories. He is now carrying his clothes from the shop to the runway after being approached by his friend Christopher Hahn, director of the Pittsburgh Opera, to collaborate on the company’s annual show. Diva Dreams and Fashion Queens, the return to space of the Pittsburgh Opera’s Blitz Opera Factory in the Strip District on Monday 4 April after a year off due to the pandemic, will feature models all dressed as Parsakian, with hair and makeup done by Studio Booth.

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Richard Parsakian - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM

CP Photo: Jared Wickerham

Richard Parsakian

Diva Dreams and Fashion Queens wants to be a unique event to show the breadth of the Eons Fashion collection. Hahn says the fashion show began about eight years ago, and was born out of the idea that it was to blend opera and fashion drama together.

“It’s something I’ve come up with because I’m always looking for ways to bring new people closer to what we do and to explore the boundaries of what we do,” he says. “And there is something very dramatic about fashion, and the same can be said of theatrical costumes.”

Hahn says this year’s goal was to weave opera fashion with Eons vintage pieces to create a one-of-a-kind look. To add to the drama of the evening, the models will walk to the beat of operatic music.

Collaborating with Parsakian was a breeze, according to Hahn. Since Parsakian has so many contacts with the theatrical community, the drag community and the arts community, she says it wouldn’t be hard to find models to show off and, of course, find clothes and accessories that dazzle.

“We talked about how to characterize this combination of the idea of ​​the opera diva and the drag diva or the contemporary fashion diva, or the popular culture diva,” says Hahn.

For Parsakian, this isn’t the first time he’s staged a show of this magnitude. She collaborated with the Andy Warhol Museum in 2004 to set up a fashion show to coincide with an exhibition on the Kennedy assassination. After being commissioned by Hahn to supply the clothes for this year’s Opera Fashion Show, Parsakian began working on styling his vast collection.

“My working philosophy is that all these models are my friends. They are dancers, actors, you know, people who are, they have a presence on stage, ”says Parsakina. “I went back and forth and found items suitable for each person. Also, this is kind of a non-binary show. I blur the definition of what clothing is for boys and girls. I just throw those definitions away.

Parsakian says he’s confident this show is on a scale Pittsburgh has never seen before; instead of a fashion show, he calls it “fashion theater”. And while he says he hates the word “different,” he says he’s working with a wide variety of models that show the diversity of what fashion can be.

He adds that he is fond of pairing certain models with designers who reflect their own history and history. With that in mind, he dressed one of his black models of him with a black designer named Willi Smith who died of AIDS at the peak of his career.

“So I essentially teach what I call ‘the kids’, that this is part of your history and your culture, and you are representing something about your body that goes beyond just fashion,” she says.

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The Pgh Opera 2020 fashion show: roses and thorns - PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHY DAVID BACHMAN

Photo: Photograph by David Bachman

The Pgh Opera 2020 fashion show: Roses and thorns

Hahn says he is very excited about the mix of people this type of event will attract. Opera tends to attract longtime supporters, but he’s optimistic that the fashion show element will appeal to a younger, more eclectic audience, especially with Parsakian at the helm. He also says that there is a high level of production value associated with the event, so this isn’t just a standard fashion show, it’s an experience.

Attendees at the event can expect to see their preconceptions redefined, according to Hahn.

“Come ready to be surprised,” he says. “Get ready to explore boundaries, put assumptions aside, and be amazed at what talented individuals gathered can cook to entertain the community.”

Parsakian says a wide variety of designers will be featured, including the recently deceased Thierry Mugler, Alexander McQueen, Scott Barrie and others, as well as a dress worn by actress Audrey Hepburn and a T-shirt with a Keith Haring design on it. .

“Christopher Hahn did a really excellent job of redefining the essence of the work,” says Parsakian. “He is truly embracing the new contemporary opera”.


of the Pittsburgh Opera Diva Dreams and Fashion Queens. 6:30 pm Mon, April 4th. Blitz Opera Factory. 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. $ 45-175. pittsburghopera.org/diva

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