Maricopa fashion designer to showcase dress at Disney World Resort

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Loren Aragon has been hand-picked by Disney to make a dress for an upcoming exhibit. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Loren Aragon has been hand-picked by Disney to make a dress for an upcoming exhibit. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The former mechanical engineer left his job two years ago to pursue his fashion business full-time. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The former mechanical engineer left his job two years ago to pursue his fashion business full-time. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Disney dress he's been asked to design is inspired by ancient pottery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Disney dress he's been asked to design is inspired by ancient pottery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Right now, the halter-top silk gown for Disney is about 40 percent complete. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Right now, the halter-top silk gown for Disney is about 40 percent complete. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
His fashion brand name, ACONAV, is a blend of words between Aragon and his wife Valentina's backgrounds. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) His fashion brand name, ACONAV, is a blend of words between Aragon and his wife Valentina's backgrounds. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A local Native American fashion designer is getting the attention of Disney.

Loren Aragon, the founder of ACONAV, a Phoenix fashion brand focused on creating Native American inspired designs, has been hand-picked by Disney to make a dress for an upcoming exhibit.

"It's an overwhelming feeling," said Aragon, who was surprised to be approached by Disney representatives while he was holding a booth at an event in New Mexico. "It's a little nervewracking to come up something that will be to that caliber."

He's excited to share his culture with millions of people who visit Walt Disney World's World Showcase at Epcot. The exhibit will showcase native communities from seven geographic regions across the U.S. The display debuts sometime this summer and could be up for three to five years.

"I hope it creates an awareness to our culture," said Aragon. 

His fashion brand name, ACONAV, is a blend of words between Aragon and his wife Valentina's backgrounds. He is Acoma Pueblo and she's Navajo. 

The Disney dress he's been asked to design is inspired by ancient pottery.

"When they see this dress, I hope they understand that, that this is coming from something ancient, something old and something we can still connect to today," he said.

Right now, the halter-top silk gown for Disney is about 40 percent complete. The inside of the dress will be lined with terracotta-colored fabric. 

The former mechanical engineer left his job two years ago to pursue his fashion business full-time. He was surprised by Disney's offer, especially since he had tried years before to get hired as an engineer. 

"I applied numerous times to be part of their robotics group. Always got denied," he said. 

Phoenix Fashion Week named him 2018 Couture Designer of the Year. 

"I find a lot of similarities between my engineering background and doing this," he explained. "First of all, to understand how something is constructed, it's reverse engineering, applying those ideas to recreating something."

He and his wife have turned the whole first floor of their two-story Maricopa home into his studio. 

The couple's dream is to one day be able to replace the work tables with living room furniture and move their studio into another space. 

Both are from New Mexico, but moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University. They've stayed in Maricopa. 

The name of the Disney exhibit is called "Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art."

The couple hopes this high-profile exposure thanks to Disney will help open up more doors. 

Aragon travels to Florida on June 3 to deliver the dress fit for a princess. 

Right now, he said there aren't any plans for anyone to wear it. 

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Maria HechanovaMaria’s last name is pronounced HETCH-UH-NO-VAH. She joined the 3TV/CBS 5 News team in July 2017, but is no stranger to Arizona.

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Maria Hechanova

Prior to moving to Phoenix, she spent four years in Tucson reporting for KOLD News 13 and KMSB FOX 11 covering wildfires, VA transportation issues, and Southern Arizona's largest school district.

Before that, she worked for WLNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan where she learned a lot about the auto industry and almost never took off her parka.

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