Who, What, When, Wear

The "Heat" is on for local designers

The designers take turns talking about their backgrounds. Casey Pearson designs a line called Hip Divine. Art Matthews, chuckling, says he's looking for a different name to design under because his own is "the anti-design name." Meredith Elliot explains that her label, Material, is reworked vintage clothing. Bill Berry briefly mentions that he's making record bags for the show. Alison Baker talks about custom pieces she makes under the name Apriba. And New York transplant Susan Di Staulo, who designs Contra Mondo, breaks the ice by announcing, "I got my start in fashion with a sociopath named Norma Kamali. I loved her and hated her at the same time." Everyone in the room bursts into laughter.

The momentum building around the SMoCA fashion show is sparking a chain reaction in the Valley. Representatives from the museum want to turn SMoCA Nights into an ongoing series featuring local fashion design. Various boutiques are interested in carrying the work of these new talents. And the designers themselves, no longer isolated from each other, are thriving on their newfound community.

"Everyone is sick of strip mall chain stores, and Phoenix is so ready for a fashion industry. We are actually getting one, it seems," says Johnson. "I think this is just the beginning."

Clockwise from top: A model in one of Casey Pearson's gowns; Pearson conducting a fitting; Angela Johnson; Jen Lafferty in a dress designed by Johnson.
Amy Austin
Clockwise from top: A model in one of Casey Pearson's gowns; Pearson conducting a fitting; Angela Johnson; Jen Lafferty in a dress designed by Johnson.

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