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Keytha Fixico: Big Brain 2013 Finalist, Craft

You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our Big Brain 2013 Finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award awards announcement and celebration on April 27, Chow Bella and Jackalope Ranch will introduce the finalists.

Up today: Keytha Fixico

Keytha Fixico: Big Brain 2013 Finalist, Craft
Photos by Becky Bartkowski

Keytha Fixico is prepping for prom night. The 17-year-old Mountain View High School senior is trying to help his date, a friend of his, find the perfect dress. Rather, dresses. He thinks she should have two: one for dinner and another for dancing. She might need some convincing, he says.

He knows he can't be too bossy about what other people wear. But he designed the flowing navy dress his date wore to the junior year winter formal. So he wants at least a say in his prom companion's ensemble.

See also: - Announcing the 2013 Big Brain Finalists - Meet New Times' 2013 Big Brain Finalists and Celebrate the Winners at Artopia on April 27

Fixico's own prom outfit is all set. He'll be decked out in a tailcoat that reminds him of the formalwear patriarch Lord Grantham sports on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre show Downton Abbey.

He's not afraid of standing out and compares the hallways at his Mesa high school to a fashion show. Some of it's good, and some of it's bad. "I like to dress up a lot," he says of his day-to-day style choices, adding that cuff links are one of his favorite accessories. It was his love of dressing well that led to Fixico embarking on a career as a fashion designer.

Fixico wants to dress women who turn heads, women like Audrey Hepburn. He wants to hear them say, "I'm wearing a Keytha," and have it result in oohs and aaahs. (You can see examples of his work on his Facebook page.)

Born in Oklahoma, Fixico is of Creek and Muskogee descent. He sewed his first button at age 7 and moved to Arizona about eight years ago with his father (he's adopted) after his parents divorced. He made his first dress in February 2011, his sophomore year. He says the draped red frock took him five days to finish.

 

Keytha Fixico: Big Brain 2013 Finalist, Craft
Keytha Fixico

In five years, he wants to work as a full-time fashion designer. And there's not much standing in his way.

Fixico plans to take a year off from school after he graduates. He's hoping to land a gig in retail, preferably something high-end like Prada or Neiman Marcus. Then, he wants to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. He scoped out the school in March 2012 and was impressed by its offerings. Meeting former Project Runway contestant Nick Verreos there didn't hurt, either.

In the library of his father's home, Fixico shows off items from his spring/summer 2014 collection. This room is where he does most of his work, from laying out fabric and conceptualizing his designs to sewing them. He pulls dresses in red and pink onto his form. They have a Hollywood present-day starlet feel to them.

He says he'll show the pieces through June. Then it's time to start working on a fresh collection.

"I don't know if that's how other designers do it, but that's how I'm doing it," Fixico says often, when discussing his work.

Then he remembers that prom is on April 27 and realizes that's the same night as Artopia. No worries. He says that the limo driver can drop him at Monarch Theatre -- tailcoat and all.

Meet the finalists on April 27 during our Big Brain celebration, Artopia.

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