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Fashion Week showcases growing local industry

Model Stephanie Patterson walks the runway at last year’s fashion show wearing an outfit designed by  Meredith Lockhart. (Courtesy of New Mexico Fashion Week Albuquerque)

Model Stephanie Patterson walks the runway at last year’s fashion show wearing an outfit designed by Meredith Lockhart. (Courtesy of New Mexico Fashion Week Albuquerque)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Audria Atencio is busy putting the finishing touches on 12 garments that will be worn down the catwalk as part of the second annual New Mexico Fashion Week Albuquerque, which takes place March 25-29.

The 25-year-old Albuquerque designer will debut her spring line, which features breezy dresses in soft and bright colors.

“My inspiration came from thinking and reading about the cosmos,” said Atencio, a self-taught designer. “So this collection is more relaxed and simple with colors that come to mind when you think about the heavens and the universe.”

Atencio is one of about a dozen local and national fashion designers who will showcase their pieces during fashion week’s runway show March 28 at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The runway show includes all types of fashion, from Southwest and Native American styles to steampunk separates and unique jewelry and accessories.

The fashion week includes a conference, workshops, expo, design competition and clothing drive to benefit a local nonprofit for the homeless.

BEASLEY: Founder of fashion week (Courtesy of

BEASLEY: Founder of fashion week (Courtesy of

The event is expected to draw 1,600 attendees and is fit for all ages and for genders.

Melissa Lea Beasley, executive director of New Mexico Fashion Week Albuquerque, held the first fashion week program last year.

Beasley, who has had a long career in styling and design, said she wanted to showcase local and independent designers to consumers in the area.

She also wanted an event that would connect designers with buyers.

“I realized there was no solid network for the fashion industry here,” Beasley said. “We have extremely creative people in pockets all over the state but it’s almost impossible for them to succeed without a network. I’m trying to fill that void.”

Beasley is the founder of Albuquerque Apparel Center, which opened in 2010 with the vision of fostering an apparel industry in New Mexico.

In a fashion world filled with cheaply made T-shirts and skinny jeans manufactured overseas, Beasley said she believes it’s possible for New Mexico to capitalize on the fashion industry by encouraging design, manufacturing and retailing in state.

It appears the local fashion scene is gaining some attention.

Crews from the television show “Catwalk Across America,” being pitched by celebrity fashion designer Indashio, will be at the event conducting casting calls Friday afternoon and filming a segment on fashion week.

Other big names include host, actor and Guess model Akshay Patel, an Albuquerque native, and the celebrity dog Sophia Loren of “Little Dog in the Big City.”

Atencio said the fashion community isn’t very big in New Mexico, but she hopes with events such as the fashion show, it’ll put New Mexico on the fashion map.

“We’re so small compared to California or New York, but these types of events are the small steps that will make the fashion industry bigger here,” Atencio said.