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Phoenix Fashion Week 2012 Opening Night at Talking Stick Resort

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A strong finish rewarded those who stuck around for all nine designers who showed at opening night of Phoenix Fashion Week 2012 at Talking Stick. Granted, with proceedings running about an hour behind schedule (fingers crossed seating issues are ironed out for the next two days) we can't blame the herd of folks who split during an oddly placed intermission -- with just two designers left in the evening's lineup.

But catching the finale from L.A.-based established designer Mariska was worth the wait -- and the un-fun sitting through Living Dreams' palm tree-stamped T-shirts and tie-dye onesies from OfraStyle. Closing the evening with a focused, well-made, and trend-conscious line of leather trim, elegantly structured coats, and a lust-worthy pair of ruched pants.

See also: Phoenix Fashion Week 2012 Opening Night at Talking Stick Resort Slideshow See also: Five Favorite Looks Spotted at Fashion's Night Out See also: America's Next Top Model Contestant Brittany Brown Talks Tough Competition, Sisterly Love, and Phoenix Fashion Week

Ending on such a strong collection made the disparate quality levels between designers all the more apparent. Established designers Kent Denim, Davinci, and Café Bleu were sometimes entertaining, but mostly just okay.

Really though. What was with the shirtless male models? Did that not seem like a Zoolander-y joke?

Our favorite men's item of the night was Kent's closing piece: a beautifully paneled leather moto jacket. Davinci looked like the erratic wardrobe of a golfer playboy crossed with Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. While, Café Bleu's button-down shirt shapes sometimes struck us (some were flared like women's tops) we weren't crazy about the button choices or the excessive use of paisley.

The first local designer was Mabella Chic, who showed as an emerging designer last year and made her established debut last night. From the riding-up micro mini skirts that models tugged at to avoid revealing mishaps to the Star Trek-looking dress with lamé details and one outfit that looked like a costume for Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the collection looked scattered and didn't live up to its description of "sexy I.Q." Though, we did spot America's Next Top Model contestant Brittany Brown taking to the catwalk during this collection.

Flagstaff-based designer Samantha Patterson showed her collection of modest-wear, and while her sense of shape was interesting, her color, pattern, and fabric choices demeaned the shapes she created with her garments. When she kept things more simple, sticking to one pattern instead of mixing a floral with a mustard, deep red, and turquoise heels.

Shawl Dawls showed the most progress from the emerging designers pool. Varying the garment's shapes and embellishing the brand's basic (but marketable) idea of exclusively producing shawls made the 1920s-inspired collection more interesting, and ultimately more focused, setting it apart from the other up-and-comers.

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