Leonor Aispuro: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Design

Becky Bartkowski
Fashion designer Leonor Aispuro is a finalist in the 2015 Big Brain Awards.

You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Leonor Aispuro.

Tears stream down Leonor Aispuro's face.

She's so lucky, she says, patting her eyes. Sitting behind the counter with her Pomeranian, Nosferatu, at downtown Phoenix fashion boutique Nostra Style House, she's dressed in a thrifted little black dress that looks anything but secondhand and wears simple gold jewelry and rich red lipstick and nails. A mannequin wears a sheer red dress the fashion designer has been constructing. A selection of her airy designs are for sale. Her name's in gold thread on each label.

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Shenal Hooks Looks to Phoenix Comicon and Solange Knowles for Fashion Inspiration

Image courtesy of Shenal Hooks
Shanel Hooks, creator of the blog Lip Gloss and Thread, geeks out on fashion and her favorite fictional characters.
It's easy to nerd out with model and blogger Shenal Hooks. The south Phoenix native has an eye for style and a sewing machine to boot. With it, she creates a mix of boldly patterned pieces for everyday wear and cosplay outfits inspired by her favorite characters.

When she's not showing off her latest work in front of the camera or at Phoenix Comicon, Hooks is documenting her adventures in DIY fashion on her blog, Lip Gloss and Thread.

The site launched back in 2013 and covers everything from sewing how-tos to adventures in cosplay, including her past costume works as Yoruichi Shihoin from the anime series Bleach, Akasha from Queen of the Damned, and a zombie bride.

Jackalope Ranch caught up with Hooks to discuss her favorite stores in town, her five staple pieces, and where she turns for inspiration.

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David Zyla on Personal Style, Ditching Fashion Trends, and How to Win at Shopping

Courtesy of Workman Publishing
Get your style on with David Zyla Thursday, March 5, at Frances.
At 5 years old, David Zyla told his mother, who was getting dressed for a night out with his father, to wear a different necklace than the one she had on. He then told his dad to switch ties.

"You can mix patterns?" his dad asked.

"Of course," Zyla said.

That was the first time Zyla remembers styling someone else. Years later, his client base stretches far beyond his parents. Zyla's made a name for himself as an Emmy award-winning stylist for movies, television, and people like Hillary Clinton, Neil Patrick Harris, and Susan Lucci.

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Victoria's Secret Models to Party at Bentley Gallery in Phoenix

Categories: Events, Fashion

Courtesy Rogers & Cowan
Let's be real, the Super Bowl isn't just about football. It's about over-the-top halftime shows, multi-million dollar television ads, and of course, scantily clad supermodels hosting high-priced parties.

A 12-year tradition, the Leather and Laces weekend party is coming to Phoenix in celebration of Super Bowl XLIX happening Sunday, February 1, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The two-night event will be hosted by Victoria's Secret models Lily Aldridge and Behati Prinsloo on Friday, January 30, and Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima and supermodel Erin Heatherton on Saturday, January 31, at warehouse district art gallery Bentley Projects. Because this is obviously art, people.

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Jim Malloy on Socializing Through Sneakers and His Favorite Kicks

Courtesy of Jim Malloy
Jim Malloy, who owns Bunky Boutique with his wife, is one of Phoenix's biggest sneaker collectors.

Jim Malloy started off collecting sneakers the same way most people do: his dad bought them for him when he was a kid.

"I still get the same feeling, the same excitement, when I get a pair now as I did when I was 14," Malloy says.

These days, Malloy has downsized his collection to about 200 pairs of sneakers due to a recent move. He's not a sneakerhead though, he's just a guy who likes to collect and wear shoes.

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Dunkxchange Returns to US Airways Center on November 30

Categories: Events, Fashion

Courtesy of Craig Cummins
Sneakerheads won't want to miss Sunday's event in Phoenix.

One of the world's first (and biggest) "buy, sell, trade" sneaker event companies is holding one of its most ambitious events to date on Sunday, November 30, at the U.S. Airways Center.

Dunkxchange (DXC) brings its national tour of sneaker events back to Phoenix with a collaboration with the Phoenix Suns, and it will likely be one of the biggest sneaker convention the Valley has ever seen.

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RAW Phoenix's CURRENT at Monarch Theatre: Refreshing, Despite Underwhelming Visual Art

Photo by Zaida Dedolph; Styled by Sophia Idowu
Sophia Idowu's hair and makeup show featured goddess-like golden accents and shimmering natural makeup.

RAW:Natural Born Artists is an international organization that aims to unite local fashion designers, musicians, and artists of all ilks. Their most recent Phoenix showcase, entitled CURRENT (yes, all caps) made its way to the Monarch Theatre on November 19. We were there to check it out.

There was something refreshing about CURRENT. RAW was established to help creatives with less than 10 years of experience succeed by providing exposure, community, and support. Some of the works featured were clearly by amateurs; others demonstrated a higher level of sophistication. While there were certainly some ubiquitous visual art exhibitions (can we just get over photographing desert landscapes and vintage signs? Please?), there were plenty of others that were visually striking, intellectually compelling, or simply beautiful.

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Ready to Wear: Can Phoenix Designers Put Arizona on the Fashion Map?

Evie Carpenter
The work of local fashion designer Natasha Duran-Lynch wowed Phoenix Fashion Week.
Bright lights flash. Dance music blasts. A towering model struts down the runway in a sparkling full-face mask, a cloud of a headpiece, and a jaw-dropping strapless white and khaki gown with a plunging neckline and billowing skirt.

Welcome to Phoenix Fashion Week.

It's one of those first fall nights in the desert when you finally can wear a light jacket without sweating. This Saturday evening in early October, men in ties and women in sky-high heels crowd behind chairs on either side of a bright white runway at Scottsdale's Talking Stick Resort. Tickets for seated spots have sold out, leaving only standing room for

Natasha Duran-Lynch is making her runway debut with her brand, Hues of Ego. The Scottsdale-based designer's high-fashion coats and dramatic dresses in blush, white, and black have the crowd holding up phones to snap photos. It's one presentation in an evening of Instagram-worthy showings by designers from all around the world: the Philippines, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

She is one of 13 competing in Phoenix Fashion Week's emerging designer program to win funding to support her new business.

Duran-Lynch's finale look is a sculpted black gown with a leather bodice and massive tulle skirt accessorized with a bejeweled black mask and a black and purple headpiece almost resembling an Afro. It's the darkness to the first gown's light.

Some stand to applaud the line as the designer takes to the catwalk with her young daughter.

"Oh, she should win," says a woman in the second row.

Despite a strong showing, a win for Hues of Ego is not a foregone conclusion. Duran-Lynch faces competition, particularly from Arizona-based designers. That's new for Phoenix Fashion Week.

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5 Awesome 2014 Halloween Sneakers

Categories: Fashion

Courtesy of Nike

Every year, the biggest names in sneakers put out iconic colorways of their signature shoes, just in time for Halloween. Some may be a simple combination of black and orange while others feature ornate designs related to the annual day celebrating ghouls, goblins, and candy.

Here are our five favorite releases of the 2014 Halloween sneaker rush.

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Oscar de la Renta Dead at 82

Matti Hillig
Oscar de la Renta photographed during a visit to Spain.
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has died at 82.

The Dominican-American designer was known for his evening wear, worn by First Ladies and leading ladies alike. He recently made headlines for designing Amal Clooney's wedding dress.

De la Renta studied under Cristóbal Balenciaga and Antonio del Castillo. He started his eponymous label in 1965 and was among the handful of New York-based fashion designers who helped bring American fashion to global, particularly European, recognition.

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