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Native American designer dresses head of Gammage for Tony Awards

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack (ASU Photo)

PHOENIX — A local Native American fashion designer created the gown that Arizona’s only voter in the Tony Awards wore to the ceremony Sunday.

Loren Aragon created the red and black gown for Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, the executive director of Arizona State University Gammage and ASU vice president for cultural affairs.

“The great thing about Colleen is that she … has been going to designers locally, or throughout Arizona, to design a dress for her to wear to the Tonys,” Aragon told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

Aragon said he was approached by Jennings-Roggensack’s team last month and asked to make the dress, which is a mashup of two of Aragon’s designs that the Gammage executive was interested in.

“She was in love with it, from first sight,” he said. “I put a lot of work into it, and I think that’s what really stood out.”

He said the colors of the gown are a nod to the missing and murdered indigenous women movement, and the geometric shapes represent pottery art of the Acoma Pueblo.

Aragon, who was named the 2018 Phoenix Fashion Week couture designer of the year, studied mechanical engineering at ASU before completely flipping his career path.

He now works as CEO, designer and artist for ACONAV, a Phoenix-based Native American fashion brand.

“Seeing that (dress) on the prestigious red carpet like the Tonys was just breathtaking,” Aragon said.

“We shed tears of joy; we cheered when we saw that. It was another great accomplishment and we hope that inspires others and we see more of that in the future.”

This year’s Tony Awards saw a rise in diversity not just on the red carpet, but also on the winners’ list.

“Hadestown” won eight awards Sunday, including best new musical and best director of a musical.

Its director Rachel Chavkin, the only woman to helm a Broadway musical this season, became only the 10th woman to win best director of a musical or play.

Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony for her work in “Oklahoma!”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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