Phoenix Fashion Week’s 2016 Spring Into Style was a fierce, experimental, sexy, and of course, fashionable, affair. As someone who’s helped on the operation’s side of a few fashion week shows, it was nice to sit, enjoy and take it all in for once.
On a general note, the production of the show was fantastic – no awkward sound or screen issues, a quick and painless pace and a clean, aesthetically pleasing setup.
The models were also totally on point. Fantastic walks, unbreakable focus and eye intensity like nobody’s business. I grew up competitively dancing, so I’m very nit-picky about onstage presence, fidgeting, physical awareness and most of all – timeliness. I can’t stand when models are walking like zombies to an upbeat song, so I’m happy that wasn’t an issue this year.
I will say, however, there were several times when the models didn’t walk to the end of the runway, instead stopping about five feet short. It’s not as if this ruined the night – hitting the tape mark doesn’t make or break a show, but it needs to be fixed in the future to avoid distraction from the real focus of the night: fashion.
Risa Kostis, of RISTYLE Consulting, started the night off styling metallics. Prior to the show she told members of the media she was inspired by vintage Versace ads and making “what’s old, new” with some modern hints added. Explanation in mind, it made perfect sense to me when artists Mat and Missy played an acoustic version of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” song. To me, acoustic has an old-timey feel but combing it with this song made for an intriguing juxtaposition. While the artists performed beautifully, it was a somewhat anti-climactic way to start the night.
Come the models, I definitely saw those Versace ads shine through, with hints of pinks and lilacs, shimmery metals and knitted cardigans on some of the models. I felt like Risa showed a special knack for finding subtle ways to wear what would otherwise be considered very “loud” and out-there materials. She also successfully mixed old and new age pieces. I wanted to steal almost every outfit straight off the models.
During the finale walk, it appeared as though several models were added in the lineup that had not walked individually. I’m not sure where they were or what happened backstage, but it was truly unfortunate because the three to five looks we missed were spectacular – even if we only saw them a short amount of time. My one criticism for this show was probably the signature set of aviators almost every model wore. I felt like it was at times an unnecessary add-on in attempts to give a modern or unique flair. Overall, however, I felt like Risa had a flattering collection of looks both great for runway and great for ready-to-wear.
Parisa Zahedi, owner of CURIIOS (pronounced cur-ee-ohs), was second styling sporty chic, and it’s safe to say she blew fashion-lovers away more than any other stylist. This was Zahedi’s first runway show, and she came out guns blazing with funky fabrics, uncommon layering combinations, and architecturally inspired looks with a clear focus on geometric shapes and a black-and-white color scheme.
And while the looks were fierce on their own, she added neon orange sporty accessories – think fully painted basketballs, baseball bats, etc. – that elevated her show to a new level. My only wish was that she had been even more courageous and daring on a few looks, because when she did take that risk, she executed it beautifully. Such was the case with her final look, a floor-length gown with a thigh-high slit, that she topped off with shoulder pads and a beaded headpiece that pretty much blew me away. Zahedi perfectly dressed up a casual theme, making it appropriate for a runway show, and I’m stoked to see more from this talented woman.
Timothy Boado styling men’s green was where the show started plateauing. His show wasn’t a dud, I just felt like he worked on his pieces on three separate occasions. The inspirations felt detached from each other. His show opened with a bunch of bright colors and very out-there looks not particularly catered to the Arizona fashion scene. The middle portion was where he hit the sweet spot, integrating the brighter statement pieces with more down-to-earth army greens. In this portion he also made some layering choices that made the men appear more athletic, and I found that very flattering and applicable to any guy, on or off the runway. The least impressive of Boado’s show were the super casual looks. I’m all for being comfy and casual but perhaps not at a fashion show. The biggest issue I found with this set after talking to other show attendees was that his style was probably more suited for New York, LA or Chicago. Boado is talented, and I liked a lot of his looks, but I have to agree that they were a little off the cuff for Phoenix.
Brandon Hunt’s lingerie-inspired looks were the audience’s favorite of the night. I have a feeling people chose him because he cared about every last detail opening to close. His show was downright ridiculous in the best way – it opened with models lined in pairs charging the runway all at one at once and freezing in place, facing the cameras or audience as Beyoncé’s “Formation,” blasted through the speakers. All were covered in trench coats but we knew what was underneath, and the anticipation was killing us.
Hunt said in the press conference his show was meant to empower women who’ve faced adversity to feel sexy and confident. Well? Mission accomplished. These models were oozing with fierceness as they walked draped in silk, ill-fitting robes, oversized coats, and lace tops, sometimes braless. Hunt was able to achieve such a high level of sophistication, and I have to credit that to his discipline in staying lingerie-inspired and not resorting to actual lingerie, which would have been an easy copout. Hunt really thought outside the box for this show and challenged notions of what sexy means, and while the looks were clearly catered to a runway scene, I found myself gathering inspiration for street-style outfits with each look. A look I plan to test out myself is the high wasted pant, bra, and oversized vest with heels – swapping out the bra with a crop top for a bold but appropriate daywear look.
The Style Stalkers had the sweetest, most playful personalities, which is why it pains me to say their show did not exceed my expectations. The two tackled plaid, but from the looks in their show, at least for the women, it appeared to be a floral-with-a-dash-of-plaid theme; all feedback I received from attendees also confirmed my thoughts on this.
To be transparent, I’m not a huge fan of plaid, but when the first look came out, a floral dress with a plaid flannel around the waist, my mind was opened. I was in love with the look and found it very unique because I’ve never thought to pair the two patterns… but as the show continued, the looks were either the same construct (substitute materials) or had even less plaid. Many of the men’s looks only contained plaid in the tie, and one or two of the men’s looks appeared to have no plaid at all. Additionally, several of the male model’s suits seemed to be ill fitting and needed more tailoring. To compound the fashion issues, the background music was extremely slow opera-like music, and while it was beautiful, it had a hypnotizing why-do-my-eyes-feel-heavy effect that made it difficult to stay upbeat. The models also carried flowers in their cupped hands, and I got the feeling most people were confused on the purpose of this. There might have been legitimate thought behind this, but I didn’t understand it, so I hope the two can figure out how to more effectively deliver the message. To end on a lighter note, the Style Stalkers featured a few plaid kilts that were fun to see dressed up, as it isn’t exactly a typical fashion item. I applaud them on their experimentation with that.
Last but not least, Nuvia Magdahi. It’s hard to know where to begin with Magdahi because I’ve had such a girl crush on her for so long. She’s got that mysterious spark about her that pulls spectators in no matter where she is, like Serena Van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl – but obviously with a more punk, edgier flavor. (Pretty sure I’ve never seen her in color). I think because she was such a hit last year though, she probably felt pressure to deliver even bigger and better looks this show, and that may have detracted from her artistic process and what makes her so amazing, which is her innate ability to make simplicity so appealing. Nuvia is undeniably talented. I truly loved each and every look of hers this year (literally, every single one), but I think the copper accessory pieces were distracting and sometimes superfluous. It wasn’t as if the accessories were needed to spice the outfits up – the outfits alone were amazing, and the hairstyles gave these futuristic FKA Twigs vibes that I loved. I think it would have been more powerful to either make the accessories white for a cleaner, more focused aesthetic or not include them at all.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the night’s shows. I finally felt like Phoenix was emerging as a fashionable city with legitimately talented stylists, and it made me proud to be a local. Going forward, I’m inspired to switch up my look and push my creativity in the wardrobe department, and I can only hope I’ll be as impressed next year. Great job stylists and Phoenix Fashion Week!