Phoenix Fashion Week 2014 at Talking Stick Resort: Friday's Designers a Mixed Bag

Is it just us, or has Phoenix Fashion Week 2014 been the best edition of the event yet?

Sure, there have been ugly outfits and underwhelming collections. But so far they've been outnumbered by thoughtful designs and higher garment quality than we've seen on the PFW runway in past years. And the event seems to be running more smoothly than ever.

Here's hoping we aren't jinxing it. Because the designers who showed on Friday, October 3, at Talking Stick Resort were still a mixed bag of good and, well, unfortunate. And there's still one more night to go.

See also: Emerging Designers Off to Rocky Start at Phoenix Fashion Week 2014 at Talking Stick Resort

Blackberry Maverick opened the emerging designer portion of Friday's show with a collection that was baffling. The Colorado label showed pieces in gray, violet, and aqua. And while they didn't appear to be shoddily crafted, they might look more appropriate as costumes on, say, a colorful children's TV program. Bloomers, zippers, and an array of ideas ensure that anyone wearing the collection will surely, as the brand's tagline suggests, "be noticed."

One look stood out as particularly chic among the collection. The pale pink day dress wasn't styled well (the leather garter belt didn't exactly complement the outfit), but it was a pleasant surprise. Clearly the women behind Blackberry Maverick have creativity to spare. But more judicious editing would serve them and their burgeoning brand well.

Seattle's Atiz followed with a collection that was so polished we nearly got whiplash from the quick change of pace. Designed by Swati Padmaraj, the East-meets-West line favored stylish subtlety over flashy glam. It might be the strongest emerging collection of 2014 we've seen yet.

Phoenix label Kismit displayed some elegant fabric choices in black, white, and gray. We particularly liked the floor-length black gown that opened the presentation. But the collection was plagued by an overuse of plastic buckles, reminiscent of those used to secure fannypacks, that made some otherwise nice garments look like straitjackets.

Following the slightly unhinged theme, New York's Schuylark presented a line in white, black, and red, that felt scatterbrained. While the dresses were lovely, the use of military-inspired blazers, belly-baring tops, and miniskirts didn't combine to form a unified collection.

Two past winners of Phoenix Fashion Week's emerging designer contest returned to the runway for Friday's established designer presentation.

2012 winner Bri Seeley displayed exactly the kind of lovely collection, dubbed "chrysalis," we've come to expect from the designer, who's based in Los Angeles. With deep crimson, black, and tan tones, Seeley showed a series of pieces that embody elegant simplicity.

2013 winner Dolcessa Swimwear, designed by Katya Leoncio, returned with a large collection of suits and bikinis. We weren't ecstatic about her winning last year's contest because Leoncio has a brand that's so obviously established (her designs have appeared in Sports Illustrated eight years in a row). But she clearly has a knack for designing high-end swimwear.

Aris Pico closed out the evening. The Philippines-based designer opened with gowns adorned with black swirls that looked dated. Yes, the collection Pico showed is from 2013, but the swirls read more 1990s than anything else. However, the more embellished gowns that followed were certainly eye-catching and more current in their style.

Phoenix Fashion Week continues through Saturday, October 4. Check-in is at 6 p.m. nightly. Runway shows are schedule to start at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, which range from $40 to $175 per person per night, visit

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski