For more than a decade LaMont Jones has made a name for himself in the fashion industry as an award-winning fashion writer. As the former fashion editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jones now spends his time as the assistant director of admissions at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the editor-in-chief of TheStyleArbiter.com
In addition to his many responsibilities, he also found time to co-found Pittsburgh Fashion Week, and still works to host other fashion events around the city. But his most recent endeavor to host an all-male fashion show has been thwarted by several venues that Jones says discriminated against him and denied his business.
“I think because I’m Black, they think I’m going to bring a majority Black crowd and there’s the assumption that a majority Black crowd would be violent,” Jones said. “People still have stereotypes there’s a lot of ignorance, all they know is what they see on the news.”
Jones has filed three complaints with the city of Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, charging discrimination against Diesel Club Lounge, Altar Bar, and the former Carson St. Live. According to Jones, managers at these locations refused to let him host his fashion show at their venue without giving him any kind of explanation.
“I felt like I was being discriminated against. They never told me no, they just stopped communicating. It’s usually something that’s very easy and fast, but the fact that I’ve taken several months to talk with these people is ludicrous,” Jones said. “I just want to know why, I think I know why, but I just want them to explain.”
The saga began in June 2011 when Jones entered into negotiations with Mark Franitti, the general manger at the now closed Carson St. Live. After making a verbal agreement and setting a date for the event, Jones said Franitti was never heard from again, even after he made several attempts to get in contact with him.
Jones’ interactions with managers at Altar Bar and Diesel Club Lounge did not progress as far. Despite several attempts, managers at both venues ignored him Jones said, when he attempted to make contact with them about wanting to host his event at their clubs.
“My parents were involved in the civil rights fight. When it comes to things like this we don’t sit down, shut up or roll over,” Jones said. “I have to follow through with it because it’s the right thing to do and if it’s happened to me it’s happened to other people.”
Jones is seeking an apology and possible compensation for monetary damages through his complaints with the Commission on Human Relations. He no longer wishes to host his event at either of the venues and is in the process of finding another venue.
“Male models don’t get much spotlight and clubs are ideal for that. I just want to have a show. The music has been ready for months. The models have been selected for months,” Jones said. “It’s a fun cultural and social event for the city. It helps raise the profile of fashion and models in the city. Pittsburgh wants to be a world-class city. This kind of thing doesn’t diminish me; it really diminishes the city.”
A representative for Carson St. Live said her client did not wish to comment. The two other respondents could not be reached for comment.