Despite the triple-digit temperatures, it really is fall. And that means pumpkin-flavored everything, trick-or-treaters getting ready, and Phoenix Fashion Week.
The annual event sets the hearts of Valley fashionistas aflutter with the latest trends and up-and-coming designers — and one of those is former Arizona State University student Natasha Duran, who will be featured as one of this year’s “emerging designers.”
As a double major in architecture and design at ASU, Duran was quite taken with the designs of American architecture giant Frank Lloyd Wright. When she moved on to fashion design, his aesthetic continued to inspire her.
“I love his clean lines and attention to detail but what really inspires me about him is the way he makes you feel in a space,” she said. “I take a lot of inspiration from that because I want my woman to feel a certain way.”
Wright and his work are a point of pride for residents of the Valley, which boasts many of his creations, including ASU’s own Gammage Auditorium.
Duran will be showing the latest collection from her line Hues of Ego, and as an emerging designer she is up for “Designer of the Year,” something she considers “a great honor.”
Also participating in this year’s fashion week is ASU faculty associate Angela Johnson, who is teaching “Intro to Fashion Design: HDA 194” in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Johnson served as a judge for the Little Black Dress Challenge, which challenges local designers to re-purpose a dress purchased from any of the 67 Arizona Goodwill locations and turn it into a new interpretation of the iconic little black dress.
“It was very fun to see all of the unique and creative ideas that everyone submitted,” she said.
Johnson herself is known in the industry for her eco-friendly and sustainable garments created from scavenged T-shirts. She is particularly known for the “T-shirt Ballgown,” which combines 25 or more shirts into one finished gown. Examples can be found on her website, AngelaJohnsonDesigns.com.
“The fashion industry needs to be more aware of the impact that garment manufacturing has on the environment,” she said.
An Arizona native, Johnson spent time working in the fashion industry in Los Angeles for X-Large Manufacturing, a line owned by Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys, and X-Girl, a line owned by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. In the mid 1990s she co-owned Monkeywench, a board-sports-inspired collection, with actress Christie Clark.
Family brought Johnson back to Phoenix, where she has made it her mission to cultivate a bigger fashion scene. A large part of that effort has been the creation of local fashion directory Label Horde.
“I’m currently trying to turn it into an incubator that scaffolds local designers and provides light manufacturing and training on the technology used in fashion manufacturing so that no one else has the issue that I had and can’t run their brand profitably from Arizona,” Johnson said.
In the future, she hopes to also to open a brick-and-mortar space for Label Horde where students in the ASU fashion program can continue their training.