Fashion show celebrates, supports women

Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor | Fresh Nostalgia owner Beth Buenaventura (center) said G. Bruce Boyer's quote resonates most with her outlook on fashion: "Real Style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose."

Kaitlyn Hughes | Staff Writer

According to Merriam-Webster, the term “Galentine’s Day” first came about in a 2010 episode of “Parks and Recreation.” The concept allows for women to embrace their femininity, individuality and friendships with one another.

To celebrate female empowerment, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh hosted a Galentine’s Day Fashion Show and Brunch. The event was dedicated to creating a positive environment to support other women.

Guests were greeted by a playlist with songs solely by female artists, booths with women-run businesses and a breakfast buffet.

“It was all about empowerment,” said marketing and communications manager Madison Kelkis, “getting all the girls together to be able to mingle.”

The three featured vendors in the show included Women Who Rock, Fresh Nostalgia and 306 Forbes Boutique. All three picked Valentine’s Day pieces that best represented their brands.

Kelkis felt that having models volunteer sent the important message that anyone can be a model. One-by-one the models strutted through the center of the Hotel Monaco Ballroom.

Women Who Rock’s partner activation and events manager Bailee Gazdag was one of many who volunteered to be in the show. She wore her favorite piece from the collection, the pink sequin “star” suit.

“I was definitely a little nervous,” Gazdag said. “But I think that the room was full of a lot of positive energy.”

Women Who Rock maintains a close partnership with Magee-Women Research Institute & Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from the fashion show’s ticket sales and additional beverage purchases were donated to the research institute.

Founded six years ago by Melinda Colaizzi, Women Who Rock aims to raise awareness about the underrepresentation of women in music and women’s health research, which drives their partnership with Magee.

“It was a very personal thing for me. I’ve been both a musician and worked in the music business for a very long time. Also, my mom is a cancer survivor,” Colaizzi said. “The underrepresentation for both women in the music industry and when it comes to women’s health research was something that I really wanted to change.”

Janice Devine, Vice President of Magee-Women Research Institute & Foundation, said in an interview that women should take proactive and preventative steps toward good health.

“Be an advocate for yourself, don’t be afraid to speak up, don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Devine said. “No matter what your age is, I think we have to own our own health care.”

Attendee Sage Steedle also recognized that women’s health is still not where it should be. She suggested women do their own research about their body so they can make decisions best suited for them.

“It’s important to have your check ups, it’s important to take care of yourself,” Steedle said. “Your physical well being is just as important as your mental well being.”

Steedle attended the event with her friend Nikki Gilboy to support Hotel Monaco. They were both drawn to the idea of being surrounded by women and supporting Pittsburgh boutiques.

As social media content creators, the pair shares a passion for fashion. Steedle and Gilboy recognize that representing originality through clothing is a core concept of fashion. They discussed how they would style the clothes in the show to best reflect their own styles.

“Everyone has such a different vision of what they would do with these pieces. You may like the same piece, but do something totally different,” Gilboy said. “I’m on Pinterest all day long, seeing how to style things. Now you actually see it in real life instead of being on an app and it’s like, ‘Oh I love that piece, how can I style it in this way?’”

Restorative fashion such as thrifting and second hand vintage items are popular methods for creating a unique capsule wardrobe that is always in style. Both Gilboy and Steedle agreed that fast fashion is appealing because it is on trend, but the pieces go out of style quicker and eventually go to waste.

The show embodied the importance of diversity in fashion as well. Owner of 306 Forbes Boutique Lisa Wolfson created a collection for her store that encompasses all age groups.

“You will see people that come in that are 80 years old,” Wolfson said. “You see young girls come in. I had a 15 year old yesterday buy something. There are things for everybody.”

The boutique’s collection also had items directed toward college students. They were featured in Duquesne University’s 2023 Annual Luncheon and Fashion Show presented by the Women’s Guild.

In light of Galentine’s Day, Wolfson also acknowledged the importance of showing support to other women.

Owner of Fresh Nostalgia Beth Buenaventura originally recommended to the hotel that Wolfson be involved with the event.

“It’s just nice that we are not a competition,” Wolfson said. “It’s great to see that it is all women. It’s like we are making progress.”