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Phoenix Takes on High Fashion

by Amelia Gray
Fashion Career Center Columnist

Arizona's growing runway scene is proving that up-and-coming designers don't always have to move to the coasts to follow their dreams. New York, eat your heart out.

Olympus Fashion Week in New York may be the Super Bowl of haute couture, but it's not the only game. For recent graduates of fashion design schools, smaller area shows like those put on during Phoenix's Fashion Week are the perfect fit.

Public Access Design
Make no mistake: Phoenix's fashion elite aim high, and their week in the spotlight overloads on glamour. The 2006 show opened with hors d'oeuvres, live entertainment and a runway show of 60 Arizona designers. A special night showcased emerging designers, while yet another focused on top boutiques. The keystone event, an Established Designers Showcase, ended with an after-party that rocked until two in the morning.

Phoenix's Fashion Week is open to the public, which makes it more accessible to fashion design school students and anyone else who wants to be close to the hottest trends.

The First Steps to a Fashionable Career
Ultimately, the goal for many young designers showing at Phoenix Fashion Week may be a move to the big city. Steven Kolb, the executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, thinks that the Phoenix shows are a good start. "They are a fine opportunity for young designers to fine-tune their shows," Kolb told The Arizona Republic. "They're a good learning place. But ultimately, for designers, their goal would be to show in New York."

It's a somewhat grassroots event, with advertising on a Myspace page and local makeup artists, stylists, and DJs working together on a lower budget than the more established shows do. Everyone gets exposure, including 16-year-old Cassy Saba, who used the Phoenix show to parlay her jewelry into magazines like ElleGirl and Teen.

Phoenix Fashion Week is young, and may still evolve in the direction of some of the more specialized shows across the country; Miami Fashion Week specializes in swimwear, while Palm Springs has a fashion week with a resort collection theme. For now, though, it's the perfect place for new designers and fashion design school students to get their first official look at the industry.

Sources:
The Arizona Republic, "Haute in the City," by Michelle Woo

About the Author
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer in San Marcos, TX. Amelia earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.