A Tailored Place: 2015 Phoenix Fashion Week kicked off with a bang

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(Courtesy ofJ ackson Dangremond)
The opening night of Phoenix’s equivalent of the glamorous affairs in New York, Paris and Milan highlighted local organizations and fashion designers. (Courtesy of Jackson Dangremond)

“Fashion, education, community.”

These are the words that kicked off the first night of the 2015 Phoenix Fashion Week at Talking Stick Resort. Let’s forget for a second the irony that Phoenix Fashion Week is in Scottsdale; the fact of the matter is that this all-weekend extravaganza is the biggest fashion event in the Valley. After all, it’s the Arizona version of the star-studded, high-couture shows of New York, Paris and Milan.

Naturally, after walking into the glitzy casino and making my way to the outdoor runway area where the main event was to be held, I totally felt like a Kardashian. Under palm trees and adjacent to a sparkling pool and red carpet, surrounded by fashion and pretty things — what a way to spend a Thursday night.

After a while of walking around and standing on my throbbing feet for hours, it was pretty clear the show wasn’t going to start exactly on time. But that’s okay — I spent some time visiting with the vendors and organizations set up at the event’s Style Villa Marketplace, including Support My Club, an organization designed to help fund school activities, and Don’t Be a Chump! Check for a Lump!, a breast cancer awareness group.

Finally, a bit after 8 p.m., we were shepherded to our seats and got all settled in, ready for the show. I was attending on the first night of the show (the event runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with different designers showcased each night), so I didn’t know what to expect.

The show started with a performer doing some crazy fire tricks before the presentation of red Pretty Woman-inspired dresses by The Art Institute of Phoenix. Long and short, mermaid-style and ball gowns, this crimson kick-off was almost as hot as the next collection.

Charmosa Swimwear’s collection was called Fireball, and that name about sums it up. Beat-heavy music by Shakira and Pitbull accented the red- and orange-hued bikinis, flowy sashays and lots of fringe.

Charmosa designer Neide Hall ended up winning the night’s award for Emerging Designer of the Year for the lifestyle category. Lifestyle was Thursday night’s classification of designer – evening wear and couture characterized Friday and Saturday, respectively. I got to speak with Hall after the show about her big win.

“I was very surprised,” she said. “It was a very tight competition… I’m very excited for 2016, what’s coming for me next.”

The winning emerging designers get to be featured on retail network EVINE Live and win a $10,000 prize package of resources to help the brand. All emerging designers went through a 4-month designer bootcamp this year, a process Hall said was difficult but rewarding.

“They gave me a lot of guidance and made me open my eyes and really figure out how to sell,” Hall said. “As a designer, you love designing, but you mostly hate the business part… But I said, if I want to make this something, I really need to focus on my business part as well.”

The next emerging designer of the night was Haute Body, a line designed by Raquel Almazan. The workout apparel was marked by feminine florals, edgy metallics, crisp white, and delicate jewelry. After the exotic swimwear of Charmosa and the hip active wear of Haute Body, I was about ready to go hit the gym, you know what I’m saying?

Next up was Lily V, which implored audience members to “Do more, feel more, be more” and showcased designs amid a backdrop of uplifting pop music. The bohemian prints and strappy flat sandals looked like they would be right at home in a high school hallway, making the earthy, ‘70s-esque designs seem exceptionally wearable in everyday life.

The show took an edgy turn with the final emerging designer line, Medium Apparel Co., which celebrated counterculture and all things rebellious. I’m all about floral, even for guys, so the dashes of the romantic print on the button-ups and jackets was a nice touch, and ironically rebellious. Camo prints and edgy T-shirts also characterized the men’s street wear line.

After a short intermission came the established designers. Nine more emerging designers were to be featured at Friday and Saturday’s shows, as well as seven more established designers.

This section of the show kicked off with the preppy men’s Devereux Golf line. Color blocking (mint green, coral and grey emerged as common hues) was a frequent element of the line’s crisp polos and bermuda shorts.

The Elevee line that followed carried the preppy theme, this time featuring women’s fashion as well. Statement earrings and pastel prints added some pop to dress pants and flared skirts. Forget my earlier motivation to exercise — now I was ready to hit up the country club and change my name to Muffy.

The show truly went out with a bang with what was my personal favorite collection of the night – Paradise Place by Marly Kluge, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Canary yellow, electric fuschia and bright turquoise washed over the collection’s gowns and high-waisted ensembles in the form of tropical prints or monochromatic pieces. Massive hats were balanced atop the models’ heads, and stacks of chunky bracelets upped the glam factor even more.

After the show, I immediately switched out my black heels for ballet flats and hit up In-N-Out for a strawberry shake, putting an end to the whirlwind flashy night. Hopefully after reading my account of the glamorous show, you feel like a Kardashian too (if that puts a bad taste in your mouth, my apologies). It sure feels good to have “attend Phoenix Fashion Week” crossed off my bucket list, and seeing the dazzling and diverse work of both upcoming and established designers (many local) sure was a fun way to spend a Thursday night.

Contact the columnist at lallnatt@asu.edu

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