Maricopa-based clothing designer Loren Aragon, CEO of ACONAV, may soon be connected to the Walt Disney Company.
After he won the title of 2018 Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week, the Imagineers from Walt Disney World sought out Aragon with the task of contributing a one-of-a-kind, timeless piece, to be a part of a new exhibition at the Epcot World Showcase in Orlando, Florida. Coming this summer to the American Heritage Gallery at The American Adventure is a new exhibit called “Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art.” The duration of the exhibit is expected to be three to five years.
Disney was impressed with Aragon’s works in fashion design, with the use of his cultural heritage to create his unique body of work. The son of a seamstress and trained as a mechanical engineer, Aragon is Native American of the Acoma Pueblo.
“In my career as an engineer I applied numerous times to be an Imagineer with the Disney Corp.,” Aragon said. “Now they are after me, and suddenly this decision to follow my dream as an artist, more so a fashion designer, is such an invigorating feeling.”
The Epcot exhibit is made possible with the collaboration among Disney, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C.
“Opportunities have certainly brought great exposure to my brand, and this was surprisingly unexpected,” Aragon said.
As ACONAV developed and grew as a brand, Aragon was able to transition to a full-time fashion designer and artist. ACONAV fashions have walked the stages of Phoenix Fashion Week, Native Fashion in the City in Denver, Colorado, and Plitz’s NYC Fashion Week. ACONAV has also been adorned by indigenous actresses Tinsel Korey and Grace Dove at red carpet events.
“I am thrilled to be working with the MIAC out of Santa Fe on this venture with Disney,” Aragon said. “This is a first time that I will use an old Acoma Pueblo pot selected from the vaults of the MIAC to be the inspiration behind the final design.”
The display at the exhibition will feature the ACONAV creation alongside the selected pot beside other artists selected for the exhibition. Native communities from seven geographic regions across the United States are included in the exhibit. Their art represents the richness, depth and diversity of Native cultures past and present. The showcase will also include interactive elements that will share the creative process and story behind the artists.
“This is another great step to the overall goal of properly and respectfully representing a part of indigenous culture with the world,” Aragon said. “I am truly thankful to all the parties involved.”