Local Life

Fashion Week celebrates dynamic scene

Non-traditional night to be among highlights of March 18-25 event

Posted 3/12/18

When people think about fashionable cities, most probably imagine places like New York City, Paris, or Milan. Wherever they imagine, odds are, Denver doesn’t rank high on the list. In recent years, …

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Local Life

Fashion Week celebrates dynamic scene

Non-traditional night to be among highlights of March 18-25 event

Posted

When people think about fashionable cities, most probably imagine places like New York City, Paris, or Milan. Wherever they imagine, odds are, Denver doesn’t rank high on the list.

In recent years, local designers, models and other artists have been working to make the metro area a place where fashion and design thrive in bold, new directions. And they hope that people are starting to notice.

“I wish more people knew that a fashion world is here in Denver,” said Duane Topping, designer with Topping Designs, a fashion company he runs with his wife, Jamie. “I am often astounded to hear that many people didn’t know this local fashion community existed.”

In an effort to celebrate all the exciting work being done locally, the city is getting its first Denver Fashion Week, running March 18-25. The bi-annual event is hosted by 303 Magazine, in partnership with Denver Arts and Venues, Visit Denver, the Denver Art Museum and The Paper Fashion Show.

The event — formerly Denver Fashion Weekend — started 10 years ago, and substantial growth in these industries over the years inspired organizers to finally expand the event to a full week.

“The hair design scene in Denver is particularly exciting, and we wanted to bring in local designers and boutiques as well,” said Brittany Werges, managing editor of 303 Magazine. “People are so often that they’ve been around for so long and not heard much about the fashion scene. It may have been niche for a while, but it’s big for the people in it.”

The weeklong event kicks off with a children’s fashion show, bridal runway show and the 303 Awards in the evening. During the week, there will be industry workshops for models, boutiques and designers, as well as trunk shows, sales events and more. At the workshops will be local industry leaders, acclaimed designers from New York City and expert panels.

Most events will take place at Wings Over the Rockies, 7711 E. Academy Blvd., No. 1, in Denver.

One exciting feature of fashion week will be Stevie Boi, a New York-based designer known for his work with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Madonna, to name a few. Boi will be showing a brand new, exclusive line on Thursday, March 22.

Another highlight will be the non-traditional night featuring models of all shapes, sizes, ages and orientations, which will also be the same day. Werges said this kind of acceptance has made the night one of the most popular events.

“Denver is such a diverse city and so many different art forms co-exist here,” said Kotomi Yoshida, a Denver-based designer who will be showing work during the non-traditional model night, and during the hair show on March 25. “Since we are kind of brand new, especially compared to LA or New York, the doors are so open to anybody who want to join the community. That is the beauty of this town.”

The diversity of the fashion world, which encompasses areas like hair, makeup, and even running fashion boutiques, makes it a particularly welcoming industry that can accept people from all walks of life, and that’s one of the things that Denver Fashion Week aims to highlight.

“There’s a misconception that the fashion world is very exclusive, but I want people to see how inviting it can be,” Werges said. “Not only can people learn about the industry, but they can see what Denver has to offer, and then support it. It’s really exciting for everyone.”

Meet the designer - Kotomi Yoshida

Background
I grew up in Japan, went to the University of Tennessee and have BFA in studio arts. After graduation, I got married and moved to Denver. We have lived here for about 17 years now.
Getting into design
I always loved fashion, and growing up in Japan, fashion was always a big part of my culture. After receiving my BFA, we moved to Denver and I was very excited that the art scene was very alive in this city.
Applying for my green card was really tough, so while I waited for my official status to start working I started hand-sewing kimonos. I had sewn my own garments here and there back in Tennessee during college and became really interested in fabric. Through many wonderful supporters, I found my niche in the art of fashion. I started joining fashion markets and shows and met so many awesome individuals.
They have become my friends, peers, and big supporters who bring me more and more great opportunities.
I am very impatient, so the immediate result is always a great reward for me. We spend hours and days and weeks to finish one collection, and it is an awesome feeling to know hundreds of people will be watching what I have made.
The runway show has such an impact — it is like, wait, wait, wait, then boom! I love the moment when my models start walking and captivate viewers’ minds. For that glorious five minutes, hundreds of people’s minds are all mine. For that moment, I live.
This year’s Fashion Week
I will be showing my new collection on March 22 for the non-traditional model segment. I have five mature models (older than 50) to walk for me.
I will also be teaming up with Stephan Lauren on the hair show on the 25th. We will have three models to show off our awesome work together.
We have been working so hard to tell everyone we have such a great variety of talents in this city. Many people still do not believe Denver is a city with style, but we will keep trying.
I want to be a black sheep and bring in more unexpected things to the scene. I want people to know there are so many art activists here who are bringing many perspectives to offer.
Denver’s fashion world
People don’t have to go to an already established big city for a great fashion scene — we have one right here, right now.
Not many people know the hard work we all put into one show. It is an art form which requires so much work from so many artists, photographers, DJs, designers, models, hairstylists, make-up artists, sound design, stage set, lighting, venue, organizers, and vendors.
The backstage is a pure chaos but it is such a place with so much positive creative energy. It is my temple. Fashion is my religion.

Meet the designer - Duane Topping, of Topping Designs

Background

I grew up in east Denver, and spent most of my younger life in Montbello. I spent a while in the military, retired in 2012, and returned to Denver.

Getting into design
I’ve always loved fashion. Even when I was deployed, I would find a stray Vogue and cut out designs I liked.
After I retired in 2012, I had a difficult time readjusting to civilian life. I needed a positive way to redirect all the energy, so I brought a sewing machine home, taught myself to sew and here I am.
This year’s Fashion Week
This year is a special year for us. We have always been honored to participate in DFW. Our first glimpse at Denver Fashion was at DFW a few years ago, and now we are a part of it.
We’ll have two segments this year. On March 22 we debut our winter/fall line for this year with a cast of transgender models. It’s a platform that allows us to highlight the diversity that is Denver.
We will also have a second segment as a part of Beauty Underground on Sunday the 25th. This will be our second run for the hair show and its always an honor and I love the challenge.
Denver’s fashion world
One of the great things about Denver are the talented artists in the community. As an artist I was afforded the opportunity to show at DFW, and it has fueled our growth as a brand.
In any endeavor you need to start with step one, and I think the importance of DFW is that it is a fantastic steppingstone for local designers. Not only is it local, but it will challenge you to exceed even your own expectations. And in a world that is constantly evolving, continually breaking the mold is essential.
I love all the new faces and have met some really incredible personalities. From veterans I adore, to some powerful young women who stand alone as the future. It’s all very inspiring.

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