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Native American fashion brand ACONAV returns to Phoenix Fashion Week as an established designer.

The three-day runway showcases are Oct. 3-5 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale. ACONAV is headed by Loren Aragon of Maricopa, who was Phoenix Fashion Week‘s 2018 Couture Designer of the Year.

Loren Aragon (submitted photo)

Aragon’s accolades for ACONAV include a commission for Walt Disney World in 2018, a cover story with AZ Red Book magazine, a place among the Best of the West by Cowboys and Indians magazine and most recently a debut on the red carpet at the 2019 Tony Awards.

“I am always excited and proud to add cultural diversity to the Phoenix Fashion Week lineup,” Aragon said. “As a representative of Native fashion on this runway I feel a sense of responsibility to educate viewers about the proper and respectful presentation of our cultures through fashion.”

Aragon’s culturally fueled presentations tie directly to his Acoma Pueblo heritage and deeply rooted history. Stories, shared global beliefs and a pottery art culture combined with a background in engineering are mixed through the creative process, resulting in the distinct empowering looks ACONAV is known for. This year’s focus is on the cycle of rain, from the build-up of clouds to the down pour and refreshment brought on by nature.

“The Pueblo people carry many beliefs and prayers for rain,” he said. “This collection is a display of the power of rain, the gathering of natural strengths that replenish the earth with beauty and nourishment… with life.”


Angelina Martin among her creations in her home workspace. Photo by Mason Callejas


Angelina Martin calls her clothing designs “exotic and eclectic and also eco-friendly.”

“I’m Mexican American, and so I base a lot of Latin American designs and geometric silhouettes in wearable art.” — Angelina Martin

Martin has owned AnymMystik Art & Apparel, a home-based design studio in Maricopa, since 2016, but she has spent a lifetime creating.

“Some of it is ready-to-wear apparel where you can wear it all day and then take it home and wash it,” she said. “And then some of it is paint.”

Her garments are always colorful and often incorporate large bold images like a guitar or a cat’s face. She uses recycled material, cast-offs given to eco-fashion designers by fabric manufacturers. An instructor for eight years at The Art Institute, Mart employs techniques in quilting and layering for constructing garments and may combine that with painted textiles.

“The painting, the quilting, the layers, the various textures kind of sum up my whole wearable art in fashion,” Martin said.

Feedback from fashion shows indicates she should include more painting, and listening to potential customers can impact her direction.

She was one of seven designers participating in the first Arizona Eco Fashion Week in April at the Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC) in Tempe. That is the home of the Arizona Apparel Foundation and is built to foster and network local designers.

Its goal is “to be Arizona’s first and most comprehensive resource for independent fashion companies that connects them to each other, to the community and to all of the fashion-related services that they need to operate and grow their business.”

Angelina Martin (center) talks about her bright attire as it is modeled. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Martin raves about FABRIC.

“They manufacture small lots for people,” she said. “People go in there with their ideas and then they literally help you from the beginning doing the technical… from choosing patterns, to cutting it and making it for you.”

Earning her spot in fashion shows has also been a boon.

“I did Phoenix Fashion Week, and then after that opportunities kept coming,” she said. “People kept asking me to do their shows.”

The reasons go beyond the creative.

“I’m always on time and always organized. I have the tag with the model’s name, the order they’re walking in. And then I see the chaos of everyone else. You see the fashion sub-culture. You mix the hair, the models, the designers, the makeup, all those people, all those artists, and you see some craziness. I just stand there and don’t say a word and mind my own business. I think that’s why.”

She has exhibited her work at LabelHorde Fashion Show, Sacramento Fashion Week, Arizona State Fair (three blue ribbons), Costume Society of America and more.

Martin has two master’s degrees. She was working on her Master of Fine Art at University California-Davis when she had her son Collin.

“Everyone thought I was the Mexican nanny,” she said. “I would walk around campus with him, and they’d ask ‘Oh, who are you babysitting for?’ I’d say, ‘That’s my kid. Just because he has blond hair and green eyes, it doesn’t mean I can’t claim him.”

In his own way, her son has become part of the business. Collin and his friends have modeled Angelina’s clothes for her collections. He graduated from Maricopa High School in May.

Photo by Mason Callejas

And Martin’s heritage has informed her decisions as a designer and artist, notably creating a “coral creature” sculpture that was photographed and turned into a print.

“I’m Mexican American, and so I base a lot of Latin American designs and geometric silhouettes in wearable art,” Martin said. “And that’s where I got the coral creature. I was learning about Mayan rubber process and Mayan leather making. It’s reed and wire with fabric wrapped around it and rubberized with a Mayan latex rubberizing process.”

Two years after earning her first master’s degree, Martin became an instructor and director at The Art Institute. She first taught in Austin, Texas, then in Sacramento, California.

She earned a Master of Humanities in art and visual media at Tiffin University in 2015. “And that’s when I focused on digital prints. So, it’s been within the last two years that I’ve really pushed the boundaries and discovered who I wanted to be.”



This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Loren Aragon and his wife Valentina among some of his recent designs at their home in Rancho El Dorado. Aragon was named Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Clothing designer Loren Aragon of Rancho El Dorado is the first Native American to be named Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week.

In the showcase runway show Oct. 7, Aragon’s ACONAV presented his latest designs from his Emergence collection.

“The whole night was a really exciting experience,” said Aragon, whose signature look is comprised of patterns from the pottery for which his Acoma Pueblo heritage is known in the art world.

The Emergence collection is based on the Acoma origin story of two sisters arising out of darkness, finding nourishment in spiritual and practical forms, planting seeds and bringing creatures to life and learning the ways of the world. Aragon’s designs incorporated themes of darkness, light, rainbows, lightning and rain with his original prints.

For the Phoenix show, members of Dancing Earth, an indigenous contemporary dance company from Santa Fe, New Mexico, performed choreography telling the origin story.

Aragon first participated in New York Fashion Week two years ago. He competed at Phoenix Fashion Week last year as an emerging designer and made an impression. But he can already feel the effects of winning the couture competition this time around.

This Aragon design incorporates a rainbow theme from the Acoma origin story.

“It’s really great exposure,” he said. “There have been a lot of responses from markets that want to feature my work in smaller shows and from the normal markets in L.A. and Phoenix,” he said.

Now he is looking for ways to expand and increase supply as requests come in for the ACONAV brand dresses. The current workforce is comprised of Aragon, his mother (seamstress) and his wife Valentina. The design and work space is the lower floor of Loren and Valentina’s two-story home.

ACONAV was one of 15 designers chosen from 300 applicants for the ninth annual Phoenix Fashion Week.

Brian Hill, executive director of Phoenix Fashion Week, said he was proud of the “detailed work and cultural vision” Aragon brought to the runway.

“His brand ACONAV is our new 2018 Designer of the Year, big things are soon to follow,” Hill said.

Aragon spent most of the summer on the Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research’s Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe. He had no time to unpack before he had to get his collection show-ready for the big event at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

As an emerging designer, Aragon was part of a four-month fashion boot camp to demonstrate his knowledge of design as well as the fashion industry.

The title earned ACONAV a prize of goods and services valued at $10,000 and “bragging rights,” as Aragon put it.

He is proudest of being instrumental of getting Native American fashion recognized on a big stage.

“It’s helping me achieve my goals,” he said. “I’m really happy.”

See photos from Phoenix Fashion Week’s Couture Night.

DeAnna Gonzalez. Photo by Mason Callejas

The fashion world is a head-spinning, flamboyant, artsy and often deluding place. And it can also be a career.

DeAnna Gonzalez certainly wants to make a career of it.

An 8-year-old student at Leading Edge Academy, DeAnna is already finding success in the cozy confines of child modeling. She has been cast in Arizona and Texas shows, modeling kids clothes for outlets that include J.C. Penney.

“My heart started freaking out,” she said of her first show. “But when I got on there, I just felt cool. And then at the second one I was just fine.”

DeAnna and her sisters ElyAnna, 6, and Alannah, 4, picked up on the fact their mother, Shelly Gonzalez, did some modeling in her younger days. They were naturally curious whether they might have the same skillset.

“When I would walk, if felt like I was on a real runway,” DeAnna said. “In stores, I’d just practice being a model. And my mom was like, ‘What are you doing?’”

Shelly Gonzalez has the three girls in acting classes with coach Cara Alvey, but DeAnna’s love is for the runway.

“Her passion is in modeling,” Gonzalez said. “She eats, drinks and breathes it, ever since she was 3 years old.”

DeAnna Gonzalez modeled in this year’s Kids Fashion Week-Phoenix. Alyssa Orr Photography

She was picked up by the Bazaar Models agency in Texas and was cast by the Young Agency’s Kids Fashion Week of Phoenix. Her younger sisters are also making moves get into the business at casting calls.

DeAnna said her modeling idol is Heidi Klum, who not only made a hugely successful career out of modeling but also turned her celebrity into a business.

At nearly 5 feet tall, DeAnna is tall for her age (her father Derling is 6-foot-6), which could be to her advantage if she wants to continue in the field. For now, she is in the moment when she hits the runway in the latest kids’ fashions in front of a crowd.

“I pay attention more to looking forward and not looking at the audience,” she said. “But when I look at the videos, they’re always staring at me!”

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

DeAnna Gonzalez (center) strikes a pose with sisters Alannah and ElyAnna. Photo by Mason Callejas

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

For the second year in a row, Acoma Pueblo designer Loren Aragon of Maricopa will represent Native American fashion in contention for Designer of the Year in the 2017 Phoenix Fashion Week Designer Bootcamp.

Aragon continues to push Native fashion forward with designs that have seized the attention of a greater audience with his brand ACONAV.

Aragon’s brand began as a greeting card company in 2008. The name ACONAV is a representation of the respective cultures of Loren and his wife Valentina; Loren of the Acoma Pueblo and Valentina of the Navajo (Diné). Aragon ventured into the fine arts then later into jewelry making and eventually into fashion design. Pottery prints are a signature to Aragon’s fashion designs and are all original graphic designs.

“To be recognized again by this acclaimed organization is an honor and means that they believe in my brand,” Aragon said. “It is a much-anticipated return for two reasons – a chance to go after the Designer of the Year title again, but most importantly it’s another year of representing Native fashion on a grand runway in the southwest.”

Phoenix Fashion Week is Oct. 4-7 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Loren Aragon

School for Advanced Research’s Indian Arts Research Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has chosen Maricopa clothing designer Loren Aragon for a fellowship this summer. Three fellowships are given annually to advance the work of mature and emerging Native artists. As the 2017 Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellow, Aragon will be in residence June 15-Aug. 15 and will present an evening lecture and studio tour.

A mechanical engineer by trade, Aragon uses couture fashion to capture ideas predominantly influenced by the pottery culture and traditional dress of his native Acoma Pueblo community. During his time at SAR, he plans to research and employ new, perhaps less practiced methods and techniques in textile design, jewelry and fashion design. Aragon plans to display his work in a capsule collection made up of four one-of-a-kind pieces highlighting textile design and ornamental metal work.

For more on Aragon and samples of his work, visit InMaricopa.com/?s=Loren+Aragon+.

This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Loren Aragon

Local Native American fashion designer Loren Aragon will have his first solo runway show at an event in the Chrome Nightclub at Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino.

The show is scheduled for June 17 at 8 p.m.

“Emerging into Style” is a fashion show themed from the ideas of emerging as a fashion designer and the ties to Aragon’s Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico, culture. Aragon’s show comes into production after a launch as an official fashion brand in the acclaimed Phoenix Fashion Week last October.

The ACONAV brand continues to grow in recognition throughout the valley and caught the attention of the Chrome Nightclub Manager Tom Anderson. He approached Aragon with the idea of presenting the luxurious ACONAV designs in an intimate setting in his club. Aragon took up the offer and the stage is now set to showcase his work, which will introduce a set of one-of-a-kind pieces in a collection dubbed “The Emergence Collection.”

ACONAV continues to gain recognition for its arrangement of Acoma Pueblo pottery art in wearable art forms.

“The idea of expressing my culture is a means to inspire new generations of indigenous artists and designers,” Aragon said. “I want to capture meaningful ideas and have our story told with the belief in all good things through fashion.”

The Emergence Collection will tell a story, expressing a connection to the past, with cultural designs brought forth in timeless evening wear. The show will also showcase talents from the indigenous community in unity with talents from the non-native community recognized by Aragon and his team.

“I want this to be a display of unity as much as I want it to show that we (Native Americans) have all the right to represent ourselves in an industry that deems us nonexistent and quite often misrepresents Native America.”

Wild Horse Pass Casino is at 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard in Chandler.

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Rising Native American fashion designer Loren Aragon of ACONAV will present his latest collection at the fourth annual Native Fashion in the City (NFITC) in downtown Denver, Colorado. The event kicks off Friday night.

The Acoma Pueblo designer and artist, who resides in Maricopa, returns to NFITC for a second year and will debut his first-ever 2017 autumn/winter collection. After a successful launch of his brand in the acclaimed Phoenix Fashion Week, Aragon continues to seek greater recognition for his work by presenting on another premier stage focused on showcasing emerging indigenous talents all across North America.

Loren Aragon
Loren Aragon

“I want to represent the culture of my people with the hopes of inspiring future generations in our community,” Aragon said. “I feel that we [Native Americans] need a greater presence in the fashion industry, and this experience allows me to respectfully represent a part of the indigenous culture in North America.”

ACONAV returns as one of the featured NFITC designers with designs that incorporate design elements that are authentically inspired by the Acoma Pueblo traditions and pottery art culture. Shows such as NFITC have been a great venue for gaining exposure to the uniqueness of ACONAV. In the year prior, ACONAV was invited to be a part of the experience allowing Aragon to continue in his mission in fashion.

NFITC is produced by Kelly Holmes, chief editor and founder of Native Max Magazine and her Denver-based team. Holmes’ Native Max publication connects its readers with the fashion realm of Indian country in both the traditional and contemporary categories.

“At last year’s NFITC, ACONAV was definitely one of the showstoppers,” Holmes said. “We certainly can’t wait to see the newest ACONAV collection on this year’s runway.”

Joseph Jones in full dance regalia. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Native American Parent Advisory Committee at Maricopa Unified School District hosted a Native American Regalia Fashion Show on Thursday.

Representatives of every native affiliation in the district wore traditional and new styles of clothing and jewelry. American Indian Institute Director Jim Larney described the regalia and its history and symbolism. Arizona State University’s Native American Club also gave a presentation.

Maricopa designer Loren Aragon, owner and designer of ACONAV, will present his latest fashion collection at the 2016 Blazing Curves Fashion Show.

Kathy Jefferson of Blazing Curves loved the plus-size possibilities of Aragon's designs.
Kathy Jefferson of Blazing Curves loved the plus-size possibilities of Aragon’s designs.

The show is part of the Fashion Art Beauty (FAB) Weekend fashion event that takes place Nov. 26. This will be the first time ACONAV will show in the Blazing Curves lineup, which caters to the plus-size community.

Aragon’s designs have captured a greater audience with his recent participation in the Phoenix Fashion Week Emerging Designer Bootcamp. The fashions debuted by Aragon on the Phoenix Fashion Week runway were a favorite among many who attended the event back on Oct. 15.

The ACONAV fashions displayed caught the attention of Kathy Jefferson, founder of Blazing Curves. Shortly after the showing at Phoenix Fashion Week, Aragon was invited to be a part of the Blazing Curves event.

ACONAV fashions are available as made-to-order designs that embody cultural art and traditional dress elements as highlights to modern couture fashion.

ACONAV is best known for the use of unique Acoma pottery textile prints that pay homage to Aragon’s Native American heritage. The prints are a signature to his fashion designs and are all original graphic designs.

aconav-plus-B“I want to present the pottery culture of my Acoma people in a wearable art form,” Aragon said. “I wish to present exquisite luxury couture women’s evening wear with the message of ‘Cultural Designs Embodied in Timeless Elegance’ with the idea to evoke empowerment of the feminine spirit.”

Blazing curves works to empower the new generation of everyday women and men to see the beauty in themselves. ACONAV’s showcase will be presented among other designers beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Embassy Suites Hotels Phoenix. For more information visit www.blazingcurves.com.