Phoenix Fashion Week to Debut 2015 Emerging Designers at Livewire

Phoenix Fashion Week fans can expect to see a few familiar faces on Thursday, June 11, as the Valley's premier fashion event announces its 2015 class of 13 emerging designers at Livewire in Scottsdale. 

For the first time ever, Fashion Week is allowing past emerging designer contenders to re-enter the competition. This year, four of the 13 designers vying for a prize package valued at $10,000 and bragging rights aren't first timers. They'll participate in a four-month bootcamp program and learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry leading up to Phoenix Fashion Week 2015 on October 1 through 3, when each will debut a collection.

Phoenix Fashion Week executive director Brian Hill says the new rules for the competition were inspired by the event's concurrent emerging model challenge, which features local men and women completing a series of Project Runway-style challenges in hopes of winning a contract at the close of Fashion Week. "We started letting models return [to the competition] about two years ago," Hill says. "What we found is that they got better as time went on."

Designers began approaching the Fashion Week team about returning, saying that they'd made progress since the competition but wanted to push themselves and their brands further. Hill says they face tough competition, and since bootcamp is different each year, repeat participants will have a unique experience.

At the emerging designer and model launch party, the designers will share one look that encapsulates their brand. The 2015 emerging designers are ARAE (Chicago), Azmara Asefa (Los Angeles), Cute Like Mad (Seattle), Haute Body (Los Angeles), Laura Tanzer (Tucson), Leola Sky (St. Louis), Lily V. Designs (Peoria, Illinois), Lousy Rich (Phoenix), and Michi Knitwear (Queens). Designers on their second go-round include Charmosa Swimwear (San Francisco), Hues of Ego (Phoenix), Michelle Hebert (Los Angeles), and Medium Apparel Co. (Phoenix).

Three emerging accessories designers will also compete in their own realm. They are Maccimize of New York City, Beltshazzar of St. Louis, and TJ Jewelry Design of Phoenix.

Besides allowing designers to return, Fashion Week is introducing another fresh element to the competition.

Designers will be divided into three categories for the competition: lifestyle, evening wear, and couture. Each night of Fashion Week, designers in a category will show their collections and one winner will be announced at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

It's a change longtime attendees have wanted to see with the competition, which had pitted T-shirt and loungewear companies against designers crafting dramatic gowns. 

"Every year we retool in the off-season and try to raise the bar," Hill says, adding that many people had given feedback regarding dividing up the competition. "So we decided to go with a designer of the year each evening."

Phoenix Fashion Week's Emerging Designer and Model Launch Party is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, at Livewire. Tickets to the event are $20 and up via Eventbrite.

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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