Fashion in Phoenix is having a moment. Actually, more than a moment if you count 28 runway shows in the last week, a flurry of media headlines and more tweets and Facebook posts than a celebrity wardrobe malfunction!
Phoenix Fashion Week wrapped up its eighth season this week with a dramatic finish to its three-day event at Talking Stick Resort. The final show, featuring a collection from Dubai designer Furne One had the crowd on its feet, as he sent 31 fantasy looks down the runway including billowing capes with 15 foot trains, towering metallic headdresses and models styled in waist-length braids and glimmering foiled lips.
Furne One, pronounced fern o-nay, has recently garnered international attention for dressing high-profile celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce and Katy Perry. As the grande finale to the shows, his dramatic couture presentation raised the Phoenix fashion bar to new heights with its level of sophistication and showmanship.
Raina Hein, of America's Next Top Model, was the final model to walk the runway, dressed in an elaborately beaded bodysuit and a voluminous, embroidered cape that literally filled the runway as she walked. It was definitely a "WOW" moment for the appreciative crowd.
This year, Phoenix Fashion Week hosted nine runway shows each evening, featuring a combination of emerging and established designers. During the year, Executive Director Brian Hill and his team recruit not only Arizona designers, they travel to other cities to recruit new designers for the shows. A competition is held for "Best Emerging Designer" with the winner receiving a $10,000 prize package.
This year's winner was Bri Seeley: a designer from Lacey, Washington whose ready-to-wear collection, "Escape" featured feminine, contemporary pieces in a teal, tan and ivory color palette. Ms. Seeley emerged as the winner after a three-way tie with design labels JHaus and OfraStyle.
The model competition, which kicks off in the summertime, has benefited from a rapidly increasing number of entrants from year to year. This year's casting call for models attracted over 200 contestants competing for 40 spots -- 10 spots for men and 30 for women. There are a variety of training sessions and photo opportunities for the models leading up to Phoenix Fashion Week. The coveted " Model of the Year" title includes gift packages from sponsors Smartwater, Dolce Salon and Remix watches, along with a contract with Phoenix modeling agency, The Agency Arizona.
This year's winner is 16-year-old Madison Brown, a student at Gilbert High School. Ms. Brown also won the "Headshot Challenge" competition for women. Model Nick Koester, a Phoenix Fashion Week veteran, won the "Headshot Challenge" for men.
Both models walked in the shows last year.
Although its most high profile event is the show in early October each year, Phoenix Fashion Week produces events and fashion shows all year long. They have developed many key community partnerships and the sponsors necessary to facilitate their growth and further their self-described mission of "pushing Arizona fashion forward."
Bringing in distinguished couture designers capable of exciting the fashion crowd like this year's Furne One, certainly doesn't hurt.