Name: Richard Parsakian
Job/Job: Eons old fashioned. 5850 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside
Websites: facebook.com/eonsfashion, instagram.com/eonsfashion, and twitter.com/eonsfashion
How would you describe your style?
I have two fashion styles, one for work and one for events, and almost always 95% slow fashion: sustainable, recycled or green, depending on the terms you want to use. I can say vintage because my brand name is there.
The work is very comfortable and practical. Winter brings combat boots, jeans and t-shirts. Summer is my signature black tank top with jeans and combat boots or shorts with athletic shoes.
My outfit look can be anything I consider my “dress look”. Still casual, maybe a t-shirt with a sports jacket, fun slim fit trousers, or a dress and tie. Always in my signature combat paratrooper boots with side zips. I like to “paint” a look from my closet collections. Black color is mine, but I can change it with some bright colors when my mood goes there.
Who are your style inspirations?
I tend to be inspired by so many cultural icons of the past and throw them in the blender to make my own statement. I am always humbled by genius. Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yoji Yamamoto, Claude Montana, Issey Miyake. But I create my own style by combining fashion for many decades.
When was your first independent style/fashion moment as a child?
Looking back at my childhood photos, I don’t remember having my own style until high school and college. Perhaps my first bell was the Woodstock moment declaring independence and my love of revolutionaries. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, social change expanded what we wore. The assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK, Malcolm X were moments in my generation like Woodstock, Moon Landing, Stonewall and the Vietnam Anti-War Movement. Social unrest has always influenced my style.
How has your style evolved over the years?
As I became more involved in fundraising for non-profits, I realized that I needed to have a more polished look, but still retain that avant-garde edge. For example, I like to wear a tux jacket with my leather pants and combat boots. I love putting that unexpected twist on my look. My leather was at David Menkus in NYC, a CMU graduate who builds all the leather costumes used on Broadway. It also works on leather fetish clothes. Also important is my knowledge of fashion history and representation.
What have you noticed in terms of demand for vintage and antique clothing over the years?
I basically have four types of customers. Those looking for slow fashion and sustainable fashion trends or designer names that respect the planet. The second group will shop at my store and grab everything as “costumes” for the party. A third is vintage clothing dealers who travel the world looking for unique items to resell. Some come from the UK, around the US, but most are from Japan. The Asian market has incredible demand for any American. The last group are costume designers who work in theatre, dance or film and TV productions. I love working with the creatives on the final team because you get to see your chosen items in actors who bring things that were once Pittsburgh’s backstory to life. It is a great honor to talk with these designers, many of them have won Oscars for their work.
Tell me what you’re wearing today.
I usually wear thrifted clothes, many of which come through my thrift store. See #1 my signature paratrooper combat boots, my black industrial jeans by INC, a 1980s denim jacket with a Keith Haring lapel pin (Keith worked at the Arts Center across the street before his first solo art show there. 1978) with two longtime friends below. Here’s the Paradise Garage tank top that Brent Earl and Tom Cousin gave me. I also have my 1970s leather band watch and another leather bracelet I bought in pre-Katrina New Orleans – I wear this to honor those lost in that devastating flood.
Look No. 2 swaps out the jean jacket for a 1970s kimono print. I was going to wear this to visit the 2022 Fire Island Dance Festival that I’m supporting, but the warm weather made me change my look. Look for it at an upcoming event.
“Everything makes sense,” you told me. Can you talk about the meaning of the things you wear?
I like to connect the history of fashion and culture when I am talking to clients or working on one of my fashion shows. A recent fundraiser for the Pittsburgh Opera; Diva dreams and fashion queensI went into the Eons archive to dress 27 models who were friends, dancers, and actors who represented a community that is gender-fluid and includes trans, queer, black, and non-binary friends.
With each look, I tried to create and “paint” a look that reflected that person’s cultural history in whatever way they wore it, so they understood the significance of that designer. In this way I create “fashion theater”.
Do you have a gift from someone that you wear often?
I wear the paradise tank all year round. My NYC friend, Brent Earle, who gifted me with Tom’s cousin, is an LGBTQ legend who was part of that club scene and continues to raise awareness for the AIDS epidemic. Brent was founded This organization Raises funds and awareness for AIDS. He worked with ACT UP in NYC, one of the most vocal activist organizations in the early days of the pandemic. He was friends with Keith Haring and he brought him to one of their meetings, after which Keith created some amazing artwork for the company. I am honored to know and have you as a friend.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, you are also very involved with the community. What projects and activities are you currently working on?
I have always been versatile and respected because my voice seemed important. I’m very involved in the dance and theater community, and I love supporting friends who are creating amazing and meaningful social work. Especially Stacey and Herman Pearl, Kyle Abraham, Billy Porter and Slowly Dangerous.
I love being on the advisory board of the Pittsburgh Dance Council, which brings the work of many international and national dance artists to Pittsburgh.
I am honored to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ Commission of Pittsburgh, whose mission is to protect and promote voice in marginalized communities that are being attacked by others who seek to destroy our equal rights. I have a long history of uplifting communities and creating AIDS fundraisers that have been at Stonewall while the government ignores the crisis. I have the utmost respect for these drag queens and kings. I created the historic Pittsburgh Pride flag, which has been a fixture at rallies and political events for over 25 years.
In the arts world, I am on the boards of the Pittsburgh Arts Commission and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, both of which amplify the voices and artistic visions of Pittsburgh creators.
Every year, I help organize Ecolution, a sustainable fashion event that helps elevate the conversation about how art can speak to the threats that are destroying our planet. I am involved with Planned Parenthood of Western PA, helping to raise funds that protect women’s choice and reproductive health care.
Is there anything you want to share?
Yes, I want to talk about how I created a safe space for my queer community and others who feel they need a place to explore their gender identity, free of judgement. I love to tell the story of a mother who said she heard that Eons is a safe place to bring her trans son, and recently, an aunt was delighted that her non-nephew bought his first dress at my store. I get really emotional talking about this because it tells me I’m doing something right. We are the guardians of our future generations. We must always teach children. We are the change makers. #Art equals truth.