Local designers prepare to take the runway at Tucson Fashion Week

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Esteban Osuna

As fashion weeks national and abroad consume style meccas such as New York and Paris, Tucson’s very own small-scale fashion week prepares to begin tonight at the Moen Mason Gallery. Though Tucson isn’t necessarily a fashion hotspot, Tucson Fashion Week displays the potential of local designers over three nights to develop a fashion community here in the Old Pueblo.

Designers Christina Cornwell and Esteban Osuna share their line’s details, design mores and excitement for Tucson Fashion Week.

Christina Cornwell: Pretty Lady Apparel

Designer Christina Cornwell of Pretty Lady Apparel is excited to showcase her collection on TFW’s main stage.

“The Scottish Cathedral is gorgeous … I’m just excited to see how many people are going to be there and to experience an actual [show],” she said. “Last year we didn’t have a raised runway for [Tucson] Fashion Week for my day, and this year we do, so I’m excited to see how everybody is going to like my collection, and to make sales.”

This will be Cornwell’s third year at TFW, but her main stage debut. Cornwell took a design class in high school and became interested in what actually went into constructing clothes, not just the appearance of the outfit.

“Every time I would go to the store and shop, I would actually look on the inside, see how it was actually sewn. ... That’s what really interested me,” she said.

Cornwell graduated from the Arts Institute of Tucson and created her brand, Pretty Lady Apparel, that encourages young ladies to dress “pretty” and not “sexy.” She said the current generation’s young teens dress increasingly provocatively under the influence of celebrities such as Miley Cyrus.

“I’ve noticed teens that the envy people like Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé, and look at what [Beyoncé and Miley] are wearing—they’re wearing sheer dresses or booty shorts, and that’s what I see when I walk down the street,” Cornwell said. “These young teenagers are wearing mini-skirts, [and] showing their cleavage. I want to tell them ‘No, this is not how we dress! We don’t want to confuse sexy with pretty.’”

She describes her line this year as more girly and colorful than her previous dark, woolen-clad line. She uses more patterns and colors in her current collection, with influences from the ’50s.

“I’m going for that woman that wants to dress more conservatively and properly. My line is very inspired by vintage. I love bringing back the ’50s style,” she said. “I’m trying to bring back that class, bring back that lady look that we’re missing.”

Cornwell said Fashion Week is important for reasons more than those that meet the eye.

“We’re not really fashionable here, you know. There’s no manufacturing places here for apparel, so what we’re trying to do as a fashion community is bring [that] back to Tucson and have fashion incorporated with [the city].”

Esteban Osuna: La Casa de Osuna

Esteban Osuna is a fellow local designer who will display his first full collection at the Tucson Scottish Rite Cathedral main stage during Fashion Week. Osuna said he believes Tucson Fashion Week is great for the community and lets people know that fashion is ever-present and evolving in the community.

“I feel like Tucson Fashion Week is something we need in the community to revamp [style] and let people know [we] do have style here,” he said. “[They] are evolving and keeping up with trends and making their own trends as [they] go. It opens a door, especially for me, because I want to stay and open a store.”

Osuna’s life journey inspires his designs; he incorporates his culture in his collection’s color schemes and designs. Osuna’s collection, La Casa De Osuna, has 15 looks; three of them being menswear, and the others a combination of women’s evening and casual outfits.

“With those looks, it’s more focused on my own background. So it’s very Spanish-oriented, as well as Mexican-oriented,” he said. “The colors and my color schemes are golds [and] silvers just to represent more of the European-Spanish times, and then on some pieces, there are vibrant colors, more in the detail work. I have some turquoises, reds and purples.”

Osuna said working as a shoe shiner in his father’s boot shop fostered his creative side. Growing up was not easy for Osuna; he was homeless and emancipated from his parents at the age of 15. He put himself through both high school and the Arts Institute of Tucson. This hardship inspired his TFW debut collection; different pieces represent different aspects of his life, ranging from his self-proclaimed “hobo jacket” to a white dress representing “serenity.”

“My collection is called La Casa de Osuna, so it’s my own interpretation of family,” Osuna said. “It plays off of elements that I grew up not having, but kind of basing it off of a more enclosed nobility family. I tried creating a character through each one.”

Osuna said Tucson Fashion Week is a vital element not only to the community, but also to himself.

“This is my comfort zone, and Tucson Fashion Week is something the city actually needs to bring in,” Osuna said. “Not only [does] it raise a lot of charity money, [but also] it opens a community where everyone does work together and everybody is there for the same cause … everybody is sharing that same love and passion for fashion.”

Tucson Fashion Week kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. at the Moen Mason Gallery for The Block Party event. Purchase tickets online at: tucsonfashionweek.com/events/.


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