Style Local: Aaron Blaze, Tortured Genius

Aaron Blaze, without a doubt, was simply born fast on his feet with a quick mind. But it took a horrible yet life-changing experience for him to become a genius -- the same Tortured Genius, in fact, for which he named his new and evolving startup clothing design line. A few years ago, after a night of Cinco de Mayo clubbing on Broadway, Blaze was beaten with a brick in an alley, leaving his pretty face broken and his eardrum ruptured. Learning to live with the painful knowledge that everything can end for anyone in the mere bat of an eyelash, Blaze sought solace in making music and clothing. And from there, his calling became more clear. "Nearly dying made me," he says. "The feeling of not being in control led me to be committed in terms of what I was born to do. Tortured Genius is me."

And what is Tortured Genius all about? The idea of the "urban professional," Blaze says. "I love New York City -- it inspires me. I love all the young entrepreneurs who wear sneakers and shorts and fitted caps everyday in the city and go home at night to the suburbs to live like kings. My style is an urban take on being all about business." He's mad about retro hounds-tooth and paisley patterns. More to the point, he touts a look that's both "tailored and casual, with straight lines, contrasts, lots of color and attention to detail." He adds: "I like the idea of feeling impeccable in a t-shirt. Not everyone can do that."

The black-and-white "Obey" t-shirt he's wearing does the trick nicely: Rounded out by rolled hounds-tooth Producer pants and a chunky signature gold chain that serves as a personal symbol of what's he's been through, Blaze's outfit is ordinary in the most extraordinary way, and that's what makes it click. But the shoes are what totally put it over the top: "They were once a pair of blue and white Converse sneakers that I wore to mow the lawn," Blaze notes. "One day, I really needed a pair or black sneakers, so I looked at my lawn shoes and thought, 'What have I got to lose?' I took the ugliest Chucks I ever owned and sprayed them with black leather spray paint. I used something bad to make something great!" It's just that kind of ingenuity and chance-taking that Blaze hopes to translate into his designs.

Look out. This boy is going somewhere: Blaze's style and also-burgeoning music will work together next month at his public coming out as a designer, the Dawn of the French Quarter Fashion Show set for September 17 at the the Denver Botanic Gardens, which will also feature clothing from pim.ERA. For more info visit Tortured Genius.