This year marked the seventh anniversary of Phoenix Fashion Week, and 6,000 people were expected to be in attendance. According to Executive Director Brian Hill, it's grown at a triple-digit rate over the past four years.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of it all as an ambassador on the Media Team. As a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, I felt as if I was living my dream for four days. I had the opportunity to conduct red carpet interviews and assist professional media with talking to designers.
My team had the least amount of members, but we managed to execute every responsibility we had successfully. We were there on most days from three in the afternoon to at least midnight, making sure that everything media related was going smoothly.
Each night, the shows sold out and guests rallied and cheered for their favorite established and emerging designers, most of whom I was able to meet and chat with after the shows.
The models were also a pleasure to speak with, including Alexis Hamilton, who was dubbed "Model of the Year" and signed by Agency Arizona after walking the runway.
Aside from the incredible experience I've gained, the highlight of Phoenix Fashion Week was being able to meet and see so many different and unique people. First and foremost, my teammates and leader, Lauren Pfingstag, were the glue that held each of us together in times of (short-lived) stress. I know I've made long-lasting friendships with not only them, but others involved in different behind-the-scenes areas.
Bumping elbows with celebrities is one thing, and being able to interact with them was just amazing. Mexico's "Next Top Model" judge and photographer, Jo Lance, came every night donning suits decked out in sequins, feathers and glitter, and a friendly demeanor. Leon Powe, basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies, was also there in support of his friend and emerging designer, Gary Jones of Jones Select. Needless to say, I was star-struck.
Audience members also included Kelly Mittendorf, a model from Arizona who walked in New York Fashion Week and is the face of Prada, radio personalities Kyle Unfug and Johnjay Van Es, Beach Boy Mike Love, style expert Tom Julian, and many more.
Three words to describe my time at Phoenix Fashion Week would have to be: Exhilarating, astonishing, and inspiring. Now that it's over, I wouldn't trade my sore feet and grogginess from having very little sleep for the world. I'm extremely grateful for being able to be involved in such a big and momentous movement, and I can't wait to do it all over again next year.
• Ashley Haines is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.