Business of Fashion club combines business, pleasure at spring show

When one thinks of fashion, one imagines the haute couture runways of Paris or Milan, busy-bodies like Anna Wintour in New York and the parched souls of the Los Angeles Fashion District. One might not immediately think of Phoenix, located in the state with the five C's, as a potential place for fashion to flood like a wash after a desert rain.

Business of Fashion at ASU brought an April shower of fashion and tight-knit community to The Icehouse on 429 W Jackson St in Phoenix. On April 9, the club held its Spring 2015 Show, the second annual, to celebrate a fashion community that Phoenix does have to offer.

Marketing and journalism senior Audree Lopez co-founded BoF in 2013 after seeing a dearth in fashion resources at ASU.

"The central goal is to prepare students to work in the fashion industry after school, because currently, there was no, when we founded the club, there was no major resources for them," she said. "So we started business of fashion to instill those skills that they might not necessarily learn in a major or an internship..."

The opportunities are nearly endless for those who want to pursue fashion, or even for those who aren't even interested in the industry. The club's members had the opportunity to do event planning, marketing, accounting and creative work to prepare the show.

"Honestly, a lot of people... don’t even want to go into fashion, but they are passionate about the creative industry, being artistic, so it’s just a great creative outlet," Lopez said.

As is true with many clubs on campus, it's hard to balance the work that goes into planning events like this fashion show and being a student, a monumental job onto itself.

"Our main challenge is just that we’re all students, full-time students who work, are involved in other things as you can tell, so business of fashion isn’t necessarily somebody’s full focus," Lopez said.

However, some members are in the club and working on making their name in the fashion industry.

Fashion design freshman Alexsa Fratianni found her place in BoF early on, and had a few of pieces walked by the models at the event.

"I made everything. I picked the fabrics, I designed it, I sewed it, so they’re like my children," she said.

Fratianni is on the executive board of the club next year as fashion chair, and hopes to have more developed, complex designs shown at Phoenix Fashion Week in the future. For the time being, the young designer likes to be involved in the details, like necklaces and makeup, to make her inspiration come to life, she said.

"I love the idea of being in a glamorous dress when the world isn’t so glamorous," Fratianni said. "So it’s kind of like the strength in glamour of being in a powerful dress like the velvet dress... that’s just powerful. That’s what inspires me."

On top of showing an ASU student's work, Dillard's at Paradise Valley Mall contributed styles that the models wore. Other fashion-related companies set up booths inside The Icehouse, like the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Phoenix Fashion Week and Woman's Touch Apparel.

This club — being business-minded — had the cash flow fit as closely as a model in a one-of-a-kind dress. The funding came from two sources, English senior and acting vice-president of the club Ariane Willson said.

"Our main funding came from BSC, the Business School Council and (Tempe) USG," Willson said. "The other money came from sponsors. (Vendors) paid a certain amount to have a booth here or have a bigger table."

There were 20 women's styles and ten men's styles on display at the fashion show. An all-American April in Arizona reflected in the style of the clothing, Willson said. She also directed the marketing campaign for the event, a campaign that included mauve and navy.

"There’s a lot of denim, there’s a lot of heavy metals to grunge it (the show) up," she said. "Because we had such a great response to (the marketing campaign), we said ‘this is a color scheme that gets attention because it’s fresh.' It’s not your classic whites and yellows and pinks for spring."

The show was rife with double denim, gaudy or even grotesque gold and silver jewelry, including some shoes and belts that looked like they were made of that material. Leather also made a prominent appearance, sometimes loosely fitting and sometimes draped over a model's shoulder like a rough and tumble ex-boyfriend.

A velvet dress, designed by Fratianni, nearly stole the show with a slit that went up to the model's thigh. This look was completed by a huge golden tiara. Another look, from Dillard's Paradise Valley Mall, was a white leather jacket over a black and white palm tree print dress, complete with a turquoise necklace that tied it up like a bow on a package.

Some hair on the runway looked like the before picture in a conditioner advertisement, but that seems like a trend at last fall's fashion shows. The men in the show predominantly wore undercut hairstyles because the fashion industry hasn't quite shaken that near-cliché from its popular styling.

Speaking of the men in the show, most wore patterned shirts and denim or khaki shorts, while some of the later styles had them in more business-appropriate attire.

Male model Jesus Rojas was excited about the prospects for Phoenician fashion, and encouraged more male-centric fashion in the Valley. For one night, however, he wore two of the ten male styles. His first was a red and blue short-sleeved patterned shirt, a bow tie with the same color palate, khaki-ish pants and what looked like modern cowboy boots.

"So you can step in somewhere and still have a little fancy kick to it, not overly business-like," he said of his first look. "The next thing that they have me in is a blazer look, so it’s going to be a little bit more professional."

The themes of the evening came in twos; spring grotesques and florals, men and women and business and fashion all came together in one clear voice in support of fashion in Phoenix, Arizona.


Reach the reporter at pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow @peternorthfelt on Twitter.

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