The O’Noir Foundation’s annual event is coming up on November 4 at The Priory Grand Hall. This year has five new chefs, five new designers (some being drag queens), blind auctions, and more. This year’s focus is on the transgender and drag communities with Proud Haven and SisTers PGH being the primary beneficiaries of this fundraising effort.
On its website “O’Noir: The Experience” is billed as a collaboration of food & fashion that will heighten your senses. It’s a trip into the dark side of food and fashion through an immersive five-course wine dinner, featuring five chefs, two local designers, and three drag queens. Each chef is partnered with a designer to create a food dish that will embody their fashion piece allowing you to not only see the fashion but to taste it. “Noir”, meaning black, is part of its foundation, therefore, all of the food and fashion pieces are black.
The roots of the O’Noir Foundation’s main event started with an August 2021 lunch conversation between its founders Sidney Sokoloff and Christina. Sidney suggested an idea for a wine dinner as a charity event. The idea stemmed from a lesson his mother taught him. “My mom really made sure to teach me the importance of giving back and getting involved, and she used to put on these wine dinners, so that’s where it all sort of started,” Sidney said. Impressed by not only the idea, but the passion Sidney presented with, Christina latched onto the idea immediately. She expanded on the wine dinner and suggested they create an event that fuses food with fashion. Both Sidney and Christina were fascinated by the link between the psyche and the clothes we wear and just like that, The O’Noir Foundation was created.
For the food end of the event, Sidney grew up in the hospitality industry following in his family’s footsteps. Learning the ins and outs of the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industries also gave Sidney a unique window into the small business community of Pittsburgh.
At the fashion end of the event, Christina focused her stylist career partially on dressing with intent. In her own words, “The power of fashion gave me the ability to explore parts of myself that were otherwise met with resistance. Like when I came out as bi there were a lot of spaces in my life where that wasn’t accepted or even seen as legitimate. Because for women especially, it’s often viewed as a phase, or a cover, or whatever else, and it’s bull. Through fashion, though, I was able to express myself and find acceptance at the same time. That’s a special feeling I want to share with the world, and that’s a big part of why I do what I do.”
Since both had a hard time coming out themselves, Sidney and Christina shared a passion for the LGBTQIA+ Community and the specific hardships that the LGBTQ youth face. This lit a fire not only under them as the founders of The O’Noir Foundation but also gave them an inspired mission that would fuel support from investors, community members, business owners, and other stakeholders.
The event raised $5,000 for its first year and $15,000 for the second on behalf of Proud Haven. Proud Haven is a local safe shelter for LGBTQIA+ youth (ages 18-25) experiencing homelessness in Pittsburgh. It also has presented a $1,000 check to the Andy Usner Christmas Fund which provides meals and support for the LGBTQ Community during the holidays.
The O’Noir Foundation is grateful for the experience so far, and their ability to do something to support the community for which they care so deeply. As Christina puts it, “Everyone, no matter what, deserves a safe space to thrive in.”
Tickets for O’Noir: The Experience are on sale now here.