Sizzlin’ 7 with Duane Topping

We first met Duane Topping last year when he participated in our summer fashion market and since then, we have watched his fashion career skyrocket! He’s been busy gracing many runways both local and nationally and we can’t wait to see what’s next from this combat veteran who is pursuing one of his dreams!

What was your first memory of fashion inspiration that you can remember? 

That memory really wasn’t that long ago.  My love for fashion didn’t show its head until later in life.  I do remember reading everything fashion I could get my hands on while I was deployed in 2003.  I had big dreams of becoming fashion editor and I built a collection of garments I liked and ones I didn’t taking note of why.  I still do that today.   The difference now is I get to make my own fashion.

Duane Topping
Duane Topping at 303 Magazine’s Denver Fashion Weekend Spring 2017. Photo: Nicole Marcelli

What motivated you to start your own fashion business? 

 After deciding to learn to sew, I thought it would be great to attend some runways.  My first experience was Denver Fashion Week.  It was that show that sparked the fire for fashion I have today.  Almost immediately after, I created my first line.  I still have the flyer from that runway, one day I’ll frame it as a memento to where I began. 

Topping Designs by Duane Topping. Photo by Nathan Leach-Proffer. Model Haley.
Topping Designs by Duane Topping. Photo by Nathan Leach-Proffer. Model Haley. Makeup by Atomic Sean.

Tell us one of your fashion icons or designer influences?

I have three big influences for my fashion.  Each for a different reason.  Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel for the way it which she broke tradition as a fashion designer and pushed back against the standard as a woman.  I think that her strength to rise from humble beginnings to the power house we know is very inspirational.  For my own techniques in design I look to Emanuel Ungaro.  He developed his technique from some old-school couturiers, and I have found that is a perfect match for the way I think artistically.  Last is Ralph Lauren, his business ideals and the arc of his label is a trajectory that I hope to achieve, even what he is doing today has certainly sparked some ideas for the future of Topping Designs.

What inspires your designs? 

Many individual things have inspired me, my wife, my children, my own life experiences.  But I think foundational it is simply the femininity, diversity, and power I see every day that truly fuels my passion.  In every woman, there is elegance and I try to match that with my fabrics and silhouettes.  I often look to the past at key moments in history and attempt to put a contemporary spin back into those looks.   

What are your thoughts about the fashion industry here in Denver? 

 The industry has grown over the years and it will take all of us to maintain that momentum.  I know I have broken the mold as far as designers go, I often use nontraditional models in my runways and photo shoots.  I have been known to do crazy things, like stopping 16th Street Mall.  My goal is to expose he Denver Fashion Industry to more people outside the regular circles.  I think that will benefit all of us in the end. 

Duane Topping with Topping Designs
Duane Topping with Topping Designs and his beautiful models. Photo: Nicole Marcelli

What is one of your favorite pieces that you have ever designed and why? 

I still love the first romper I ever made.  It took me months to put it together and it was the best shot from my first photo shoot.  I still get a bit teary eyes when I see the pictures.  It represents a huge leap of faith and it was the first step on my path into fashion as a designer.  That to me is a very significant piece.

3 Things if stranded on an island? 

Wife, Pipe, Tobacco! Easy.

<Read our past interview with Duane>

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