Ready to Wear: Can Phoenix Designers Put Arizona on the Fashion Map?

Bright lights flash. Dance music blasts. A towering model struts down the runway in a sparkling full-face mask, a cloud of a headpiece, and a jaw-dropping strapless white and khaki gown with a plunging neckline and billowing skirt.

Welcome to Phoenix Fashion Week.

It's one of those first fall nights in the desert when you finally can wear a light jacket without sweating. This Saturday evening in early October, men in ties and women in sky-high heels crowd behind chairs on either side of a bright white runway at Scottsdale's Talking Stick Resort. Tickets for seated spots have sold out, leaving only standing room for procrastinators.

Natasha Duran-Lynch is making her runway debut with her brand, Hues of Ego. The Scottsdale-based designer's high-fashion coats and dramatic dresses in blush, white, and black have the crowd holding up phones to snap photos. It's one presentation in an evening of Instagram-worthy showings by designers from all around the world: the Philippines, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

She is one of 13 competing in Phoenix Fashion Week's emerging designer program to win funding to support her new business.

Duran-Lynch's finale look is a sculpted black gown with a leather bodice and massive tulle skirt accessorized with a bejeweled black mask and a black and purple headpiece almost resembling an Afro. It's the darkness to the first gown's light.

Some stand to applaud the line as the designer takes to the catwalk with her young daughter.

"Oh, she should win," says a woman in the second row.

Despite a strong showing, a win for Hues of Ego is not a foregone conclusion. Duran-Lynch faces competition, particularly from Arizona-based designers. That's new for Phoenix Fashion Week.

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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

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