Phoenix Fashion Week began six years ago as an amateur local production with DIY fashions shown poolside at the Clarendon Hotel.This year's three-day affair featured an upscale, trendy venue (W Scottsdale), a thumping electro-soundtrack, a complex lighting and video system, attendance by a few pseudo-celebs (does Miss Arizona count as famous?) and a host of women with tiny dresses and big boobs.
In the six years since its inception, Phoenix Fashion Week has matured -- the 6,000 people in attendance was the highest it's ever been. But the affair still lacks in the areas of overall location (Why can't the "Phoenix" event be held in, well, Phoenix?), organization (including late starts, confusing schedule and outdated website information) and street credibility in the fashion world.
After attending shows on all three days, taking some notes and photos on our favorite and not-so-favorite looks, we've concluded: Phoenix Fashion Week has ultimately grown up to become ... Scottsdale. (Scottsdale Fashion Week, by the way, launches the first week of November ... and is also in Scottsdale.)
Check out our full Phoenix Fashion Week slideshow here, and our impressions after the jump.
We blogged about Thursday's pink carpet, black leggings and boob-holding buckle tops right here ...
Friday night's theme seemed to be tardiness, as both the established and
emerging designer shows kicked off late.
Kiss the Girl Clothing started the established designer runway shows with a collection that included a mix of dresses, skirts and jeans. The most perplexing aspect of the show was the styling. Props included a baseball and a glove, goggles, flowers and other random items. If Project Runway has taught us anything, it is that styling and/or props can make or break a runway show.
Femme Athletic followed and was a crowd favorite. The runway music featured all of the songs we've been hearing on the radio, which led to an upbeat show with participation from the audience (they couldn't help but bob their heads and sing along). Seam Ripper was next. Good music and ready-to-wear outfits made this show our favorite from the established designers. Badb Apparel finished the first half.
During intermission, a man with bagpipes came out to the runway and confusion set in as he slowly spun in circles. The models in Kiss the Girl designs who followed the piper donned knee-high white stockings and plaid skirts. It was hard to tell if the theatrical introduction was part of an intermission or the runway show ...but hey, it was entertaining.
Domino Jeans, Masquenada and Fender made up the second half of the established designer shows -- Fender being the finale. Models strutted down the runway, including America's Next Top Model contestant, Tahlia Brookins (a star sighting that created little buzz).
The emerging designers show was outside on the pool deck. An L-shaped runway that ran alongside the pool provided a cool setting. And while the weather was beautiful, the smell of cigars and pool chlorine seemed to dominate the atmosphere.
No one seemed to pay attention to the first show, Couture by Lola, which is a shame because it was good in its own right. Amsterdam followed and was able to attract more attention from the audience. We heard a group of guys say, "let's go to the bar" right before the Amsterdam show was to begin.
They changed their mind when the first model stood at the edge of the runway rolling her hips in a bathing suit and a headdress made of leaves.
The final show from Noctis Threads, received the most cheers and this was before the models came out throwing panties (with the "Noctis" screenprinted on the butt) into the audience.
Even if the majority of the audience was there to support a friend model or designer, see and be seen, or drink and socialize, there were still a few fashion-enthusiasts to be spotted.
Saturday's up next ...
Entering Saturday night's four-plus-hour festivities on the "pink" carpet, attendees had a choice to have their photos taken with some dolled-up models ... or a woman in a brief bondage bikini; thus beginning the marriage of high and local fashion.
The swank show space contained a "Shopping Villa" selling merchandise from several local and online boutiques ranging from on-trend: Studded cuffs, on-trend bags and designer jeans, to the trendy: crafty jewelry (one booth featured pieces made from vintage clock parts), bedazzled baseball caps and skimpy swimwear.
First on the runway, the Established Designer Show featuring six designers
including Stop Staring, Blaque Label, 7 Diamonds, Nymphe, John Paul Jeune
and Oday Shakar. Not exactly household names, but a few had bona fide
Hollywood ties (Shakar designed Sandra Bullock's recent MTV Movie Awards glittery mini-dress).
Stop Staring kicked the show off with a film noire-esque video featuring a private investigator following saucy damsel in distress with a killer and oft-changing wardrobe.
"This is classy," someone whispered a few rows back.
What followed, a lengthy show featuring body-hugging vintage-inspired pieces, the remaining five collections featured cocktail wear, ball gowns, fashion denim and menswear.
One standout (for obvious reasons): a purple velvet suit bound to unleash your inner Prince (or pimp) by John Paul Jeune.
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All in all, the collections were attractive and well-made, with the exception of one (visible) wardrobe malfunction, a broken zipper held together with a safety pin, adding a welcome bit of grit to the sleek show.
Post-show, all attendees were herded out of the showroom and required re-queue (in a line that stretched down the street) for show number two: Inspire Fashion: Emerging Designer Contest.
SJ Couture, Shamini, Coleccion and Shantidas were the 4 remaining local designers (out of 10) competing for the $10,000 Best Emerging Designer Prize. Their ensembles ranged from traditional wedding gowns (winner, SJ Couture), to creative cocktail (Coleccion, Shimini) to flowing and feathered whimsy (Shantidas). There was a wide variety of construction and taste-levels, but it was nice to see that Phoenix has some potential *Project Runway* contenders.