Wear it Well Style Mavens Present Tucson Fashion Week

By Valerie Vinyard –

Sitting at a table at Goodness, a juice bar and restaurant on Campbell Avenue, Melanie Sutton and Paula Taylor exemplify the term “fashionista.”

With stylish clothing outfitting their slim figures, fashionable accessories and cute wedge heels, the duo looked ready for their own runway show.

The two, who have a combined total of almost 40 years in the fashion world, will be running Tucson Fashion Week as creative directors and owners for the second year. Elizabeth Denneau of CandyStrike, who started TFW in 2010 and passed the torch to Taylor and Sutton in 2012, will do a presentation on the last evening.

TFW, which will take place Oct. 16-18, has continued to blossom with Taylor and Sutton at the helm. About 30 designers – local and beyond – and local retailers will showcase their work. This year, the “week” will take place over four days instead of three. In addition, TFW will feature industry pros across a myriad of industries – including authors, stylists, activists, architects and musicians.

“They’re not going to see three nights of boring runways shows,” said Taylor, the author of “How to Produce a Fashion Show from A to Z” and former owner of Pour Moi boutique in Tucson. “We’re going to stick with our original plan to showcase ‘creatives’ from different channels of the industry who are influential in fashion.”

Some of those creatives hail from the University of Arizona. UA alumni include Nathan Colkitt, founder and CEO of the architecture firm Colkitt and Co., who has designed more than 100 PUMA stores.

Taylor said that bringing in an architect to TFW demonstrates “the iconic collaboration across industry channels” that fashion represents.
“Each night is its own unique story and platform,” Taylor said.

For the first night, Sutton said that the TFW event is launching Connect Coworking, a new collaborative workspace next to The Rialto Theatre. Six to 10 designers will be creating a garment inspired by Nathan Lee Colkitt’s SoHo PUMA building. The featured designer on the runway will be Lawless Denim, a salvage denim company from Phoenix.

The second night will be The Garden Party at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Two industry leaders will be featured – UA alum Joey Rodolfo, SVP of men’s design for Tommy Bahama, and David Zyla, an Emmy Award-winning stylist and best-selling author. Zyla will be hosting The Color Story with local retailers Loop Denim Company, W Boutique and Posh Boutique in the intimate show. He will be discussing colors and trends as they go down the runway. The night will close with a retrospective show of Rodolfo’s 30-plus years of work in the fashion industry.

The final night featuring Project Runway Showcase and Project Arizona will take place at the Fox Theatre. Film Tucson is the host. Stars from “Project Runway” will be on hand and showing capsule collections.

An added event on Oct. 19, hosted by Tucson Ladies Council, will be a brunch for 150 people at Playground Bar and Lounge that will feature stars from “Project Runway.” Tickets cost $50, and clothing and accessories also will be for sale.

A percentage of ticket sales and beverage sales from TFW events will go to various charities such as Youth On Their Own.

“We stand by our mission having TFW put Tucson on the national fashion and retail landscape,” Sutton said. “We really are making our mark.”
Event sponsors include Mercedes-Benz of Tucson, Film Tucson, Visit Tucson, Shaffer Dry Cleaning, Fringe Hair Studio, Ford Robert Black, FIDM, UA Bookstores and many more.

“Designers are artists and entrepreneurs and Tucson is a city that welcomes both – along with the new ideas they bring,” said Mayor Rothschild. “Tucson is a destination city, but we really shine as a setting for things like this that are new, individual, and eclectic.”

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