Fashion, football and fun take center stage

It was New York fashion week meets Steelers football on Friday night at Heinz Field for the annual Steelers Style Fashion Show, with this year's theme "Black and Gold Style: Then and Now" celebrating 40 years of Steelers fashion.

Steelers' offensive guard Kelvin Beachum and defensive end Cam Heyward served as honorary co-captains for the show, while former running back Rocky Bleier represented the team's history as a co-captain as well. Bleier was one of the founders of the fashion show in the 1970s.

Neither Beachum nor Heyward claim to be style icons, but both pulled off the runway look with flair."To be honest with you I am not big into dressing up," said Heyward. "But for a good cause I am willing to step up to the plate and have fun with it. It gives us the opportunity to dress up more than we usually do. Guys get to show their personalities in what they wear.

"My wife is already a super model, and it gives her another opportunity to show off."

Art and Greta Rooney and Mike and Kiya Tomlin chaired the show, and were entertained watching the players 'perform' in a different light than everyone is accustomed to on game day.

"It's great that it's been able to be sustained this long and our fans have supported it for this long," said Art Rooney II. "It's fun to have Rocky to represent the history of the fashion show. I think the players have fun with it. Over the years it's something players enjoy, fans enjoy it, and that's why it's become such a popular event.."

While the event was about fun and fashion, it had a much deeper meaning as proceeds benefited the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and the Cancer Caring Center. 

"The fashion show achieves its main goal of raising money for the charities, the Cancer Caring Center and UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program," said Kiya Tomlin. "And it's like a giant pep rally. The community gets excited about it. People want to participate in it."

The night kicked off with guests enjoying the Steelers Style Lounge, which featured a vast collection of Steelers fashions to keep any fan happy and looking good for game day or a day at the office. The Voice contestant Chris Jamison from Pittsburgh wowed the crowd when he performed before dinner. During dinner guests enjoyed watching the player arrivals on the red carpet, featuring actress Tamara Tunie and safety Will Allen conducting some of the interviews.

Check out photos from the Pittsburgh Steelers annual charity fundraiser, "Black and Gold Style: Then and Now," which benefits the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program and the Cancer Caring Center.

And then, it was show time. The action picked up fast with a show that had heads turning and cameras clicking.

Brynn Williams, niece of the Tomlin's, got the runway rolling with her amazing performance of the National Anthem, and then like game day it was time for the players to take over. The show opened with the players, along with Bleier, and their kids wearing jerseys and from that moment on black and gold was plentiful.

The Game Day: Then and Now scene featured Ike Taylor's '412' clothing line and the styles of the night came from Kiya Tomlin's designs, which this year included her Uptown Sweats Collection, definitely not a football player's sweat suit.

"I focused more on the casual with the Uptown Sweats Collection and how to incorporate that into Steelers game day wear," said Kiya Tomlin. "It's a collection of re-imagined sweat suits. The styles you saw on the runway are styles I do sell, with the addition of some Steelers colors that are just for the runway show. I also had some evening looks as well."

Tomlin's evening looks including an ode to the 'steel curtain' with stunning designs in steel grey. Players and their families modeled fashions by Robert Graham, Macy's, Outerstuff and MODA Pittsburgh, along with Tuxedo Junction providing tuxedos for the Steelers rookies. Collections by BCBG Max Azaria, Nicole Miller, Michael Kors and other New York couture designers highlighted the fashions worn by many of the players' wives.

"It's fun," said Beachum. "We all had a great time laughing at each other and seeing who was dressed up the best or who had the fly suit and looking at all the little kids running around in their nice clothes.  

"I can't dress. My wife dresses me. I really can't dress. I enjoy it for the sake of having something to wear. I can't dress. I do enjoy the red carpet. That is a fun part they added to the fashion show."

Beachum said he enjoys seeing what the guys bring to the table, and sometimes style is based on size.

"It depends on how big or small you are," said Beachum. "Antonio Brown has done a great job. The defensive backs always rise to the occasion for some reason. They always do a great job dressing up. It's fun. There are a lot of different attires from different parts of the country. You have the Cali style, the East Coast style, the Southern style. It just kind of depends on where the guys are from."

And of course, there was Pittsburgh style. Pittsburgh's own Ross Ventrone won the "Swag Award" while Brett Keisel's kids stole the show and took home the "Junior Swag Award."

"It was fun this year," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "We have some new faces, some new guys, so it's was fun to see how they attacked it."

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