The Highs and Lows of Phoenix Fashion Week 2016

The ninth annual Phoenix Fashion Week graced the pool-adjacent runway at Talking Stick Resort from October 13 through 15, bringing local and international designers to the Valley and showcasing everything from birdlike showgirl costumes and icicle jumpsuits to the botanically inspired collection of a FIDM student and graphic dresses by a Phoenix-based Native American designer.  

It was, in so many words, a lot. Here's a look back at the highs and lows from Phoenix Fashion Week 2016. 

High: Alexis Hamilton
Yeah, we're fangirls. So what? The 2011 model of the year has the walk to end all walks. And damn if some of her fellow models couldn't use a lesson or seven from her. (Which, heads up, is a thing she totally does.) 

Low: Opening Night
One, two, count 'em, three T-shirt presentations. Come on now. 

High-ish: Community Designers
This is a project that needs some intense fine-tuning, but it was nice to see 11 locals have the opportunity to show their creations on Thursday night. Some of it was ... bad. But it's good to see Fashion Week changing up the formula.

Low: Still with the Scoring
Why can't we know how the emerging designers scoring works? Each night, one emerging designer of the year was announced. But the crowd gets zero insight into how they fared during boot camp, how much things like web presence and audience response are factored in, and who comes in second, third, and fourth place. Give us graphics on the big screen — reality-TV-competition style — or stop talking about the scores. Please. 

High: Aconav
While the collection wasn't perfect, it was exciting to see a strong showing from a local Native American designer. We want more from Loren Aragon. 

Read on for the most upsetting micro-trend we saw — and designers who topped three-peats.
Low: Hideous Clown Shorts
Let's call it a micro-trend, but there were some real nasty shorts we had to look at over the weekend. These models deserved better.

High: Laura Tanzer
The Tucson designer clearly grew leaps and bounds from her last showing as an emerging designer in 2015. She earned this year's contemporary emerging designer win.

Low: Couture
Is it high fashion? Sure. Is it couture? No. Stop it.

High: Diversity
The Row gets it wrong. Yeezy gets it right. And Phoenix Fashion Week does, too. This year, when it came down to the models — their size, color, age (though it would certainly do well to bring in some older models) — the event looked more diverse than ever. Cheers to that. 

Low: Repeats
Forget three-peats, this year Phoenix Fashion Week featured two designers — Dolcessa Swimwear and Rocky Gathercole — who have now shown four freaking times. They're cool. They're successful. And we'll hand it to Gathercole, he really changed things up with his presentation this year. But neither one really has anything to do with Phoenix. 

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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