Clothing designer Loren Aragon of Rancho El Dorado is the first Native American to be named Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week.
In the showcase runway show Oct. 7, Aragon’s ACONAV presented his latest designs from his Emergence collection.
“The whole night was a really exciting experience,” said Aragon, whose signature look is comprised of patterns from the pottery for which his Acoma Pueblo heritage is known in the art world.
The Emergence collection is based on the Acoma origin story of two sisters arising out of darkness, finding nourishment in spiritual and practical forms, planting seeds and bringing creatures to life and learning the ways of the world. Aragon’s designs incorporated themes of darkness, light, rainbows, lightning and rain with his original prints.
For the Phoenix show, members of Dancing Earth, an indigenous contemporary dance company from Santa Fe, New Mexico, performed choreography telling the origin story.
Aragon first participated in New York Fashion Week two years ago. He competed at Phoenix Fashion Week last year as an emerging designer and made an impression. But he can already feel the effects of winning the couture competition this time around.
This Aragon design incorporates a rainbow theme from the Acoma origin story.
“It’s really great exposure,” he said. “There have been a lot of responses from markets that want to feature my work in smaller shows and from the normal markets in L.A. and Phoenix,” he said.
Now he is looking for ways to expand and increase supply as requests come in for the ACONAV brand dresses. The current workforce is comprised of Aragon, his mother (seamstress) and his wife Valentina. The design and work space is the lower floor of Loren and Valentina’s two-story home.
ACONAV was one of 15 designers chosen from 300 applicants for the ninth annual Phoenix Fashion Week.
Brian Hill, executive director of Phoenix Fashion Week, said he was proud of the “detailed work and cultural vision” Aragon brought to the runway.
“His brand ACONAV is our new 2018 Designer of the Year, big things are soon to follow,” Hill said.
Aragon spent most of the summer on the Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research’s Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe. He had no time to unpack before he had to get his collection show-ready for the big event at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
As an emerging designer, Aragon was part of a four-month fashion boot camp to demonstrate his knowledge of design as well as the fashion industry.
The title earned ACONAV a prize of goods and services valued at $10,000 and “bragging rights,” as Aragon put it.
He is proudest of being instrumental of getting Native American fashion recognized on a big stage.
“It’s helping me achieve my goals,” he said. “I’m really happy.”