Show spotlights rising talent in modeling, design

Stephany Gentry Fashions
Photo by Nikki Charnstrom

Models strut their stuff in Stephanie Gentry's clothing line at the 2013 Phoenix Fashion Week. Gentry was one of 12 emerging designers at the Oct. 1-5 event held at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale AZ.

All is still in the darkness. Then lights flash on, illuminating the words “Phoenix Fashion Week” at the center of the runway. The track begins to play intensely and the first model walks out; cameras flash; curiosity builds in anticipation of the next design. A tall pair of heels struts across the floor as beads dangling from shorts and a blouse swing violently.

This is the eye-catching ensemble by emerging designer Stephanie Gentry. She was one of 12 emerging designers featured at the 9th annual Phoenix Fashion Week, Oct. 1-5, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. The leading fashion event in Arizona supports the development of emerging designers around the globe and aspiring models in the locale. This year the event sponsored 40 emerging models competing for the title No7 Cosmetics and Skincare Model of the Year.

Emerging Designers

Each year, Phoenix Fashion Week provides the opportunity for up-and-coming designers in the fashion industry to compete for Designer of the Year. The team travels to eight cities, looking for the best emerging designers to apply for the four-month apparel boot camp. The winner, who claims the title of Designer of the Year, receives a prize package of over $10,000 in goods and services to assist in successfully launching its brand.

The boot camp teaches designers how to turn their passion into a business and to define their brands. At the end of the camp, the 12 designers show their lines on the runway at the Phoenix Fashion Week event. It is there that one of them will win the title and the prize. Also featured during the week is the work of 15 established designers and over 10 accessory designers.

Emerging designer, Stephanie Gentry, 2011 graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design, says that she has been doing fashion sketches her whole life. She originally went to Atlanta College of Art and Design seeking a degree in illustration but realized that all of her sketches were of fashion. Her advice to hopeful designers is to make sure fashion is something you really want and always believe in yourself. Gentry made the top four finalists for Designer of the Year.

Dora Yim, emerging designer for her brand d.p.c., claims she is self-taught. She says she started out with a sewing machine from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and took a few online classes. She started making and wearing her own clothes, and when she received positive feedback, she thought, “I can do something with this.” Her advice to aspiring designers is to never give up, never surrender, and be open-minded and receptive to feedback. 

Herbert Victoria, an emerging brand by Herbert Williamson, found himself in the fashion business in high school. Over one summer, he worked for Gallery37, a job that was funded by the city of Chicago that supported high school students interested in art. As a printmaker, he learned a T-shirt design process called silk screening. He found himself developing his own designs, screening them on T-shirts and selling them at school. Victoria graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2009 with a bachelor of science in fashion design.

Williamson’s advice to designers new to the industry is, “Have a strong back-bone and a lot of patience. Always think ahead.”

The winner of the 2013 Emerging Designer of the Year competition was Dolcessa Swimwear.

Modeling Competition

Valley models were also presented a chance to boost their careers at the event. Phoenix Fashion Week partnered with the UK’s number 1 Beauty Brand No7 Cosmetics and Skincare to announce the Model of the Year 2013 Competition. For the first time the competition awarded both a male and female winner who received a modeling contract with The Agency Arizona.

When the model search began, over 200 local young males and females took the first step in beginning their modeling careers. At the end of the day, the judges selected 30 females and 10 males to compete. Each of the 40 finalists received a makeover from TONI&GUY Academy in Scottsdale to give them the complete model appearance. Up until the main event, the young emerging models competed in various challenges to prepare them for their debuts on the Phoenix Fashion Week runway:

  • Challenge 1: Headshot
  • Challenge 2: Runway
  • Challenge 3: Print Campaign
  • Challenge 4: Social Media

After the Fashion Week competition, emerging model, Denis Danicic, an 18-year-old political science major at Arizona State University says, “I consider myself different and a much better model now.”

Danicic won the first ever male title of No7 Model of the Year 2013, the headshot challenge, and the No7 classic beauty scene print ad challenge.

This experience has helped Danicic realize his potential as a model, and he is now more focused on the pursuit of modeling. He says his parents found him an agent about two years ago and were truly the ones who got him into the industry. In all this, his inspiration is his dad because he came from Bosnia to America with nothing. Danicic says his dad’s persistence is what motivates him to never give up.

His advice to young people with an interest in modeling?

  • Don’t give up.
  • There will be points in this industry where you will be rejected. You have to have persistence. Persistence is the biggest thing in this industry and in life.
  • Be on time.

The female winner of the 2013 No7 Model of the Year was Madison Farrell.

To apply for a chance to be a designer at Phoenix Fashion Week go to If you’re interested in the modeling competition, open casting for aspiring Valley models takes place in July. To receive updates within the world of fashion week, visit their website and join the mailing list.

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