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Aragon's design is matched with colors before all the cutting and sewing begins.

Loren Aragon, who founded the Native American fashion-design portion of ACONAV in Maricopa with his wife Valentina, will see one of his creations on the red carpet at the 73rd annual Tony Awards in New York City June 9.

Loren Aragon (submitted photo)

He is an alumnus of Arizona State University, and fans from his alma mater connected him with Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, ASU vice president for Cultural Affairs and executive director of ASU Gammage. She is also Arizona’s only voter to the 2019 Tony Awards and chose an ACONAV dress for the big night.

See below to see how the dress came together

“I was excited to hear that Colleen requested me to design a custom gown for her red-carpet experience,” said Aragon, who was named Phoenix Fashion Week Couture Designer of the Year in 2017 and was commissioned by Walt Disney World for a dress in an Epcot Center display.

Aragon’s clothing and accessories are inspired by the patterns of the pottery for which his native Acoma Pueblo is renowned. He creates his own prints and, as a former engineer, designs styles with interesting outlines and colors that are instantly identifiable as ACONAV.

“His work is bold, innovative and evokes the global empowerment of women,” Jennings-Roggensack said. “It will be deeply moving to wear Loren’s work, which is dedicated to share, educate and connect the artistry of Acoma ways of life.”

The Tony Awards will be presented June 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, broadcast on CBS starting at 7 p.m. local time.


This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.


How an idea becomes a dress

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack with Loren Aragon at ASU Gammage. Submitted photo

Loren Aragon of Maricopa has been making a name for himself in Arizona's fashion scene. Submitted photo

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.

Submitted

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.”

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Photo by Michael Barnes

By Ethan McSweeney

The Maricopa City Council approved an agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation on Tuesday for the design of the planned State Route 347 overpass.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay the Department of Transportation $525,700 toward the design of the overpass, which will span the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that cut through Maricopa. The city would be responsible for about 21 percent of costs that exceed the initial estimate with the rest of the costs falling on the state, according to the agreement.

The funds from Maricopa for the project will come out of the city’s Highway User Revenue Fund rather than Development Impact Fee (DIF) funds. After a brief discussion at the Tuesday night meeting, the present City Council members unanimously approved the terms, known as an intergovernmental agreement (IGA).

The wording in the agreement allows Maricopa to use DIF funds if city staff can find those funds.

“If DIF is available to fund this project, then that is the one we would pursue,” City Manager Gregory Rose said. “We would take as much as we can from DIF funds because they are so restricted.”

“HURF gives us a broader use, and so if you had to pick, you would want to pick something you know is a transportation-related project within the scope of DIF, that’s what you want to draw it from first,” Mayor Christian Price said. “But if you can keep HURF in reserve, that allows you the option of using HURF for other transportation projects that aren’t so strictly located as DIF is.”

Last year, the Department of Transportation placed the State Route 347 overpass in its Five-Year Program with hopes to finish the project by 2020.

The project will cost about $55 million to complete, according to ADOT, with the city of Maricopa contributing about $8 million, which will be spent in increments over the next few years.

The overpass is intended to ease traffic backups that occur on State Route 347 in Maricopa at the railroad crossing, according to ADOT.