Talented fashion designers are a rare find in Arizona -- though the state does have some sparkling specimens of style. It feels like I've been to a million local shows, and if the audience is lucky enough not to be shown the latest denim/T-shirt combo straight from a Dillards rack, we're often presented with Phoenix-homegrown 'Project Runway' wannabe (no, that's not something you want to be).
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for those who want to pursue a career in fashion design, but I'm not about to condone garbage just because it's local. If I never heard a start-up designer refer to his or her work at "couture" or "haute" again, it would be too soon.
There's a simple statement that explains the bald-spot of fashion-flair in the state: "Have talent, will travel." Landry Low and Josh Soberanes are both exceptional designers who fled to finer fashion grounds at Calvin Klein and the Pratt Institute in New York.
But enough ranting. It also takes guts to stay in town. And if whether you're keeping a pulse on the local fashion scene or just diving in, here are three designers who are local (for the time being) and definitely worth your attention:
3. Joy Li With a business situation that's as sharp as her design aesthetic, Joy Li and her professional partner Jean Bartolomei, are proving that it is possible for an independent fashion designer to have a profitable business. Jean and Joy do it right. Between the conceptional process, and the brand's small season presentation, the duo behind the label seem to be pro's. Joy's very contemporary garments start as illustrations then to a pattern-maker, and off to production where the finally land in her Waterfront location in Scottsdale. Though the goods can be pricey, you're investing in a thoughtfully designed garment. I suggest snagging one of her amazing coats.
Studio Joy Li 7144 E Stetson Dr # 100 Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (480) 970-1043
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2. Tiffe Fermaint A graduate from of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Tiffe Fermaint certainly has a unique approach to design. Currently working with Cirque Du Soleil as a seamstress, Fermaint's been designing for 12 years, where's she done a ton of costume work and illustration, like that with Denzel Washington in the 'Book of Eli'. The last collection of hers I reviewed was in 2010, at the Scottsdale Fashion Week's 'Designer of The Year' competition. Her work as costumer is apparent, yet the feminine etherial white dresses and blouses held testament to her great taste. In addition, she showed this fantastic coat in a white wool-blend, that had two collars and insane detailing around the cuff and back.
3. Jose Trifilio A favorite with the local fashion-elite like Janis Leonard and Oscar De Las Salas, Jose is a champion of chic with his ultra-glam garb. Not for the shy of style, Trifilio injects uniqueness into his brand with an over-the-top foundation that he seems to cap with reasonable hues and materials. He's kind of the guru of gowns, a highlight of each of his collections, if you ask me. Trifilio knows fit, but to wear one of his items, prepare to show a bit of skin.
Part-time Phoenix resident Corbin Chamberlin is a Contributing Editor at the New York Observer's SCENE Magazine. Corbin's has also contributed to the Financial Times, New York Magazine, the Business of Fashion and Us Weekly and has been featured in Paper Magazine. Aficionado of puns and Prada, Corbin will be serving up his stylish criticism on local fashion-happenings for Jackalope Ranch.