A Look Back at the Previous Ecolution Fashion Show Events Featuring:
Natalie Bencivenga – Host
Natalie Bencivenga is a journalist and media personality. She currently pens the nationally digitally syndicated "Ask Natalie" advice column for the Universal Press Syndicate.
She is the former SEEN editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and was recently nominated for the prestigious Sally Kalson Courage in Journalism Award. In addition to reporting on the city’s social scene, Natalie co-hosted, co-produced and co-edited the mid-Atlantic Emmy nominated lifestyle Web show “Setting the SEEN”. From 2016-2019, she co-produced and co-hosted The BROADcast Podcast, a Golden Quill award winning podcast aimed at amplifying women’s voices.
Natalie also regularly guest co-hosts and contributes to Pittsburgh’s largest morning show: KDKA-TV’s morning television program “Pittsburgh Today Live.” She also moderates panels, emcees and is available for speaking engagements. Natalie has also been providing digital media consultation and video production work through her media company, XSquared Media, since 2016.
A Pittsburgh native who holds a Master's degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh, she ran her own online lifestyle magazine for five years and worked as a licensed mobile therapist. Natalie was voted “40 Under 40” in 2020 by Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP and was the recipient of a “One in a Million award” for her web series, #FiveMinutesWith… highlighting people working towards justice and equity in our communities.
Richard Parsakian – Live Guest
Owner of the vintage clothing store Eons Fashion Antique in Shadyside celebrating 35 years in business. His store is a resource for film, television, theater, dance , local artists and performers. He is an installation artist, costume & event designer and has a Bachelor of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and sits on the City Art Commission, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the Pittsburgh Dance Council Advisory Board & the Mayor’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council.
Emilio Cornacchione – Live Guest
Emiliao Cornacchione co-founded Izzazu Salons and hair care products along with Gino Chiodo. The duo’s dedication and enthusiasm has remained steadfast from their tenure as highly respected educators with world-renowned hair product companies, to features on both national and international television including TLC, FOX, American Store, HSN and Idealworld in London.
Their latest venture is their own Izzazu branded Haircare products developed based on the specific needs of clients’ hairstyling challenges while helping them recreate their salon look at home. Available at their salons and at Giant Eagle Market Districts.
Bradford Mumpower – Designer
Developing an understanding of the human body while working as a massage therapist since 1999, Bradford emerged onto the fashion scene and showed his first collection at Pittsburgh Fashion Week in 2014. Prints and bright colors have been the calling cards of his collections, often using Dutch or African wax prints. Unconventional materials have also been a draw, and fashion design competitions like the Ecolution Fashion Show have fueled his creativity in using materials such as bubble wrap, maps, plumb line and icicles. We will see the dress made of over 400 Hershey Bar wrappers, which was worn by Pennsylvania’s contestant in the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pearlann Porter –
Choreographer & Designer
Pearlann Porter is a founding Artistic Director of The Pillow Project and the Founding Director of The Space Upstairs where she serves as a full-time Resident Artist, as well as the regular host/creator of the long-running Second Saturdays jazz-happenings. Pearlann brings her ideas in dance, improvisation and site-specific performance with The Pillow Project to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Dublin.
Pearlann was named one of Dance Magazine's 25 To Watch in 2010 and is a current 2020 recipient of the Investing In Professional Artists grant awarded by The Pittsburgh Foundation/Heinz Endowments/The Opportunity Fund for the creative development of her latest work blending improvography and spoken-jazz.
Pearlann holds a BFA in Jazz Dance from Point Park University, where she has been on the dance faculty for 20+ years teaching postmodern jazz and improvisation.
Nisha Blackwell – Designer
Nisha is the founder of Knotzland Bowties, established in 2014. She downsized from a local coffee shop and decided to brew her own ideas. Spurred by a passion, the world around her, and building an environmentally-friendly business, Knotzland became a reality.
Some of her favorite partners and places to source and rescue high-quality pieces are The Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, T's Upholstery, Ultra Fabrics, Drape Companies, other designers, her sewist network and the Pittsburgh Opera. She says the fabric is truly the first step in creating circular products.
Knotzland has grown to a powerhouse up-cycling business with goals of expanding and cultivating ecosystems that support people and the environment, all while using items that already exist in the Universe.
Staycee Pearl – Choreographer
Herman Pearl, AKA DJ Soy Sos –
Staycee is the co-artistic director of PearlArts Studios and STAYCEE PEARL dance project and Soy Sos, where she creates artful experiences through dance-centered multimedia works in collaboration with her husband and artistic collaborator, Herman. She received her initial dance training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. In 2010, SPdp&SS debuted at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and served as resident dance company for the theater for three years. They then opened PearlArts Studios in April of 2012 producing works including ...on being..., OCTAVIA, and FLOWERZ.
Herman Pearl, resident DJ and sound designer for the Staycee Pearl dance project performances at Ecolution, is the head engineer and owner of Tuff Sound Recording, as well as the sound designer and co-founder of PearlArts Studios. Through PearlArts, Herman creates soundscapes to serve as a component of contemporary dance. His work has been featured in various independent films and documentaries, video games and advertising. He has designed soundscapes for numerous choreographers and has collaborated with many visual artists to create installations and touring exhibits. Herman has recorded and produced work for a plethora of recording artists across genres and techniques and has performed, created, and recorded his own music for over 25 years.
Jessica Beck – Judge
Jessica is the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum. She served as judge for the 2019 Ecolution show themed “Re-Birth”. Jessica curated the “Adman, Warhol Before Pop” at the museum where she asked to create a one-night 1960s fashion experience during the run of the exhibit.
Vanessa German –
Spoken Word Performance
Vanessa is a poet, performer, photographer and sculptor. Vanessa German creates works that explore the power of transformation and healing. She scours her Pittsburgh neighborhood, searching for objects to incorporate into her art. "I surrender myself to the objects that call up to me," she says. This intricate mixed-media sculpture combines acrylic, coins, bottle caps, rhinestones and glitter. With these three-dimensional collages, German reclaims objects and words that symbolize the oppression of African Americans for generations, creating serene, if surreal, figures. She created one of the award-winning works for the first Ecolution event in 2015 themed “The Four Seasons” and performed a spoken word monologue to showcase her ceramic wearable art in 2018.
Designer, Blue Giant Eagle Bag Dress, Year #5
Brian David is a Pittsburgh native and has been designing, creating and selling his work for the past 23 years. He has been a featured designer in shows locally and nationally which include those held in Boston and New York. Brian has also shown his work during events such as Pittsburgh Fashion Week and the Pittsburgh Film Office’s Oscar Gala This self-taught designer describes his work as “vintage inspired clothing with a focus on fit, tailoring and the use of traditional couture techniques”. Recently Brian celebrated the official opening of his own studio where his services are available by appointment only.
Brian’s blue Giant Eagle bag dress shown here was a submission from our 2019 show. Consisting of over 100 bags commonly used bags from local Giant Eagles, Brian has re-conceived a classic couture dress in his construction with this material.
Designer, The Tie Jacket, Year #1
Kari has been designing wearable art and clothing in Pittsburgh off and on for about 15 years. Her interests have shifted more towards nature and the environment in the last few years, but making clothing from repurposed materials is the place where those two worlds overlap. Kari also works with national theater touring companies as a dresser and seamstress.
The jacket is made up of 40 ties, all second hand, collected from thrift stores and a few from ebay. This piece takes a masculine item and turns it into a feminine piece piece of clothing. The bottom hem of the lining was left unattached, so the wearer can look inside and see the backs of the ties and how it was put together.