When the word of “fashion” is used locally ( I mean in the Phoenix area), it rings in my head what? Fashion? Who said that? What fashion? What in this town? Here? Where?
I do not have the slightest idea of what they are referring to, nor do I want to do an exhaustive investigation about the subject. Every time I go to the mall with my fiancée, I cannot believe that with so many options, many price points, such a large color palette, tendencies, marketing, merchandising, credit card ease of use, what I see on the streets does not reflects the vast landscape of available fashion. When we hit the road to go to the movies, a restaurant, or simply stick my nose out of my window car (like our little pug Mr. Hugo) as we ride around to see that there is a sense of fashion that was lost – that is lost – there is not an obvious sense of fashion in Phoenix.
Now, thanks to Mr. Brian Hill, his board of executives and a valiant effort by volunteers, stylists, make-up artists, location managers, PR and promotions teams and others, we have a young established effort in our very town that comes to us yearly by the name of “Phoenix Fashion Week”. Through that window, we are able to see live and in our city, not only what Phoenix has to offer in terms of fashion and fashion design, but we are able to see what other designers around the country and the world are creating – and all by simply dividing the runways in two categories: “Emerging Designers” (competing for a $10,000 prize) to “Established Designers”.
From the PINK event on Wednesday night at DOMUS, to the finale on Saturday night at the Talking Resort Casino, Phoenix is been given a chance and a spin around the world of fashion; Literally, one spin at the time.
As part of the program from day one, the whole event led with a simple but heartfelt message behind it. The event took on totally a new meaning for me with the addition of three powerful words: fashion, education and humanity. By adding these into the mix of another premise “bringing designers and buyers together” – this elevated the event to a much higher and more appealing level for me.
The ultra-fashionable PINK event moved us all to reaction and emotion faced with the rampant permanency of carcinogenic lumps, but all around the simple world of fashion.
Now, to recount the many runways from the established designers to the upcoming designers on Thursday and Friday, I must say that in my brain, the ones which stood out the most were those whose aesthetics and fashion expressions left me either in a state of wonder or inspired or optimistic or simply perplexed due to their elaborated thoughtful process of design, and sometimes because of the very traced and personal aesthetics.
The following are the designers or clothing lines I saw and my perception, starting Friday:
DPC by Dora Yim – It was a simple delight seeing such a light and ethereal line, very minimal in every sense – the use of soft yellow paired with grays and other undertones made the whole short, above the knee effect of the silhouette one. The geometric cuts were at every turn, … but all and all, more needed to be said; A black dress with a pull down shoulder, which revealed a sophisticated, yet sexy neckline, created a sound resonance. In my opinion, that single element of surprise and reveal could have been multiplied in the whole collection.
Hebert Victoria – A tribal line with a very precise point of view; Interesting use of lines, seams, cutouts, draping and cuts, yet all in all somewhat too tribal; all in all confusing; all in all too much on one note – just too much for me. That’s when the eloquent Tim Gunn says; “Are you sure of this? Remember that you have to stand in front of the judges…”
Proverbs by EFUA – I might define the line as humble. The human trafficking stance and objective was clear and strong. The use of primary colors and simple silhouettes let me thinking that this could be beginning of a powerful line, but left me wondering and wanting more, Perhaps too humble? Or perhaps not enough knowledge of technical elements; Or maybe not enough focus on design and experimentation?. It left me wondering whether the message was so humble that the garments had a hint of a service line or college interns? I sensed cleaning crew. This was a solid beginning and this opportunity was there, but perhaps missed.
Stephanie Gentry – This was a series of undefined cuts, with a consistent use of materials, but did not talk much to the audience. I read the collection more like a sleepwear than a street wear. I am aware of the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” look and invitation to the definition, certainly let me unsure. This was perhaps the only line during the week that presented slacks, blouses, dresses, separates (tops & bottom), and they were all wrapped with classic materials such as satin, cotton, and tulle accented with the most romantic contrasting brocades. The bright red applied over a celestial white was striking.
The romanticism was there, and the line was consistent in color, scheme, cuts and selection, with a clear vision for the romantic, modern woman. The red wedding gown, which closed her runway, was a rather delightful surprise and a very inspiring moment for the audience. And in my opinion, the body fitting of all models for this line was mediocre, and while occasionally precise, while others (like a pair of shorts with dangling trim- the worse detail of the whole collection) were not what was needed and missed the required ‘glove’ effect. However, such responsibility talks clearly of the intense sense of professionalism of this solid designer.
Gents – Denim, t –shirts and baseball caps are not my forte. I use them as a regular outerwear and the options are plenty in the market. But runway for denim wear? I am still processing this one (…..neeeeeext!).
J-Haus – Again, denim and street-everyday-ware are not my domain, but I appreciated the technique used on some waxed finished pants. I can see the market for this style.
Paulie Gibson – His line is always a joy. His ability to give the modern man a sophisticated and contemporary look is unparalleled. His marvelous taste for large prints, used largely in a single piece of clothing, makes the ensemble always a pleasant one. In this runway, shades of blue were used as a cohesive mark through out the collection. At first read, it identified as a turquoise, but one that effortlessly migrated into cobalt, dark blue and other shades grounding his clothing compositions. His lines and cuts were very familiar to the gentlemen’s clothing standard, but others (like the short jumper) were very new and inventive for the day-to-day male. He is becoming a master of contemporary male style!
Bri Seeley – In this runway, the light turquoise as the opening of the line transformed into grey, rose, graphite, black and taupe tones. A very girly silhouette where skirts were cut in several lengths, cinched in the waist, high waists and asymmetrical waistlines, played with the graciously capped shoulder, soft draped shoulder and even no shoulder top. The length and shape of the skirts had a hint of romantic 1950’s, but the use of lace, satin, soft cottons, lace over a one-tone material and the prolific seams and asymmetric cuts made the collection interesting. All these elements gave a new look to the romanticism for the today woman – and this was perhaps the most wearable of the lines of the whole event. It seemed like a line, which stood as one most familiar to the crowd, with a hint of romantic elegance that is very accessible. I expect this line to be in boutiques locally and hope that local women will embrace such an easy sophistication. This was without a doubt one of my favorite catwalks, styling and looks.
That was the day!
Doux Belle – Glamorous revival homage to the 1920’s and the Charleston era, which grasped a contemporary spin due to the smart use of fabrics and accents. One of the best-styled shows of the evening, the clear sense of costume and time was overridden by the ability of the designer to explore new fabrics – which kept the style intact, romantic, modern, appealing and very, very feminine. A full skin color gown with pleats on bust, and rose appliqués on a two-dimension skirt was the most remembered garment from this presentation.
Ja’ire – This very African runway with modern colors was one that had it’s highs and lows – maybe too high, and too low, however. Some very, simple full tight body garments in one color that were simply that., while some other garments with slight cuts in two tones were delightful – and the accents in the midriff saved one tube dress. Close to the end, a dress with a front black-and-white print paired with a red back was a bit too many patterns on one little person – illustrating that less is more, but too little is not more and too many prints are too much. Happily, the acid tones of this show saved the whole deal! The bright blue dress with low hip, thick chartreuse band was simply delightful – although paired with not-so-delightful jewelry.
Michele Hebert – This was another line that started with deconstructed brocades and tulles on satin, on typical A-line dresses. There was some forced geometry and deconstructed lines on tulle, brocade and transparencies, but after the 8th garment, (one on some sort of hydrangea flower appliqué on a high waist top with tulle on three level cut), the runway took the savor of high fashion. The appearance of a red very, very light asymmetric chiffon (or similar) floor-length black dress with feathers and decomposed attachment to the skin color base was the one that pulled the line up from the floor. The ‘branches dress’ cut the whole runway in two and created a gasp as it appeared. My only negative was the spine (bone) on the bride’s garment was too much like Mr. Alexander McQueen’s shows.
The headpieces were simple, but yet designed to create an accent – fitted to some garments – but to others were just an addition that was not needed nor wanted.
Enzoani – The line opened with a white simple brocade blouse and a pair of red slacks, which I though it was sophisticated enough and urban enough to open a show. Little did I know, I was in for a surprise (even though I got a sneak peek of the introduction of the brand via the Facebook post on Phoenix Fashion Week).
A line full of reds, whites and blacks, all a very primary tones with highlights of botanical trims on a large scale – distracted enough of the attention of the sophisticated look, while bringing some romance; And then, the runway volume turned-up. And it was in high volume!
One of the best moments of the evening, the finale with another red wedding dress, a very Indian tradition, but on a romantic tone with the use of lace, tulle on corset and bodice, and I must say that the model enhanced the moment with her soft and diaphanous walk.
Silvia Bours – With a very soft inspiration on the “Phantom of the Opera” and models holding half white masks, music as the background, this girly, girl line showed up the runway. A line always innocent, perhaps too girly, but all in all a very ballerina-inspired selection; I recall last year the style had socks with heels, this year tulle wrapped graciously around ankles on contrasting soft colors – which directly spoke to the “ballerina” inspiration). Chantilly lace, brocades, satin with enhancements, pearl sequence – all invoking an artistic and delicate feeling.
The always high waist cuts and bell shape skirts were in the company of very ornamented bejeweled or brocade fabric; A very cohesive elegant evening look, with a clear point of view, which was always feminine and innocent, and that makes it a classic.
Eleve – A revival of the gentlemen’s elegance – which was overall very positive, elegant, and dapper! Inclusive of the petite model that opened the show – what a cutie – the smart bespoke use of plaid and modern fabrics for combinations that included stripes & plaid were superb. The entire line described a very hip urban man that is almost non-existence around the valley. One observation: lots of staples on jackets for the models? Was that a last minute fitting? In any event, I loved seeing an elegant man. And the black quilt jacket is one that would own.
Rocky Gathercole – Genius! The use of volume to alter the figure was marvelous. The various material combinations with very heavy pleating combined with feathers and transparencies to ease the weight on the bodice were a plus.
I was mesmerized by the amount of techniques used, and they were flawlessly executed. Pleats, draping, beading, scalloping, sequence, appliqués, feathers, metal chains and bedazzling, transparency, and even some sort of plastic unstructured brocade that were all added, subtracted or structured on simple dresses and even on a one piece swimsuit – the arrangement and extravaganza left us speechless. In contrast, three or four long gowns made the line somehow wearable, and even then, there were very wearable pieces for someone with the right taste level, sophistication and occasion.
The styling of simple buns on the head made the make-up stand out and allow us to understand the work executed by MUA team. This included the crystal or ‘ice queen’ make-up that closed the runway and what I believe was a bride – and all in all, this segment was an incredible trip into creativity and design.
So, as another year of this event goes by, it is another year proving that Phoenix is able to do a high fashion event, and to the level of many other major cities. I hope to see the style hype of this week of fashion permeating onto our streets, restaurants, and offices, and even to the casino goers we passed in the hotel.
Nothing is better to feel good, than to look good!
Well done, Phoenix.
Always in Style,
* Thanks to photographer Mr. Joe Pier from http://www.joepier.com for allowing me to use his picture/perfect pictures on my blog.
* Thanks to Mr. Hermann Plank from Phoenix Fashion Week 2013 board of directors for a fantastic hosting
* Thanks to Mrs. Melissa Rein Lively for a warm welcome and incredible PR abilities.
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