When you live in beautiful Denver Colorado, I don’t get but a few chances to go to fashion shows because our city is sort of like an oasis, in the middle of the country, culturally-deserted because of the distance to the large fashion cities of the coasts. So, when my dear friend Brandi Shigley of Denver Fashion asked me to attend one of the 303 Denver Fashion Week shows, I was excited to get out of my head with the weeks political downfall, and when she asked me to write this, I was a little mortified, consumed with how to even write something for someone else! You see, I work in the fine jewelry world, specifically the antique jewelry world, and manage a store on Larimer Square called Victoriana. I am well versed in fashion, the history of costuming, construction and fabrics, and have been a crafty, self-proclaimed fashionista most of my life, but when it comes to critiques I can be one brutal bitch, and when it comes to writing, I can be a mess, plain and simple. So, here goes nothing…
Thursday evening, Brandi picked me up, and in the traffic of protestors swarming the capital, and marching down 17th street, we made our way through town and to the show at the City Hall event center. The fact that I was attending a show, rather than showing my solidarity with other members of society, protesting the president elect, made me feel a little guilty. Larger than the act of watching and consuming clothing and the ideas within the craft of apparel, what are the larger social implications of fashion, and what am I doing here? When designer and stylists use political intention much of what is made is met with resistance and judgement. So, being a smaller city like Denver, I figured that I would not see much of that.
Upon entering we were met by 3 wonderful young women, 2, dressed in laces by Shelly Schalamon and one, Katie Hamman in a Lisa Frank inspired unicorn print – dress that framed a cute little baby bump, a matching purse and an over-all 90’s-girl inspired gay-centric look that. I thought to myself, well that was adorable, try to open your mind to the what Denver has to offer.
Much to my disappointment, inside the show, the crowd was a pretty sad affair of people with identity-less style, mall-inspired, Kardashian day-wear looks. Pastel satin dresses that are cute…in a spring-time Sunday morning, church-going way. I, straight out of work, in jeans and a work-safe shirt, defiantly lacking in any way that you can imagine, don’t really have room to talk, but a lot of these people seemed to be part of this industry, and even as consumers, I couldn’t help but think that this was more of a pageant than a show of style, trend and elegance. A few fashion forward people popped as per the usual in Denver, such as Crystal Jacquez, the atomic Sean Lacy and Jeremy Williard, who all bring a neo-punk-politico-inspired look to everything they wear. I am familiar with their irreverent style and adore their looks, and all three are always on point in their very own way.
We sat down to the show, had a few drinks and waited. Sitting behind me was a group of 5 friends who were the most friendly attendees that we met that night, however none of them lived in Denver. They had all come to celebrate a birthday, each living in a different city, and choose Denver as their stomping ground for a good old girl’s weekend! It was nice to see a few people who were not as uptight, and could have a few good laughs, rather than trying so hard to fit in. However, we all agreed that the boys in front of me had a few too many, and with the walls down, they just would behave themselves. I was embarrassed for them.
The first show began with Femme Fatale Intimates, lingerie pieces, all of which were adorable, but fairly predictable, besides the sheer red body suit with black trim, which almost looked like a sporty version of a 1920s dress without a skirt, which surprisingly really had a sumptuous effect for lingerie that made it seem more high-end than the lace that was used in the rest of the collection. Following was designer Mona Lucero who’s collection of dark prints, with bright loud pixels of color and they really stuck out to me. They were sewn well and seemed like actual pieces that people could buy and pair with a lot of things in their wardrobes. The first dress, on a beautiful, effervescent young model was really set off with her simple style; short, bleached tipped, natural dreading, with bright yellow matte lips and a small clutch, with Lucero’s adorable little potato-sack dress which was so simple yet perfect. I wondered to myself, why more of the attendees were not styled in this way, or at least following the form of their individuality rather than falling in line with their style, but we aren’t in New York or Paris, so why did I have such expectations?
The last designer, who’s clothing I really got to look at was Gino Velardi’s group of very elegant jumpers and dresses, my favorite being a black full-length dress, with gold prints of a splashy metallic “tie-dye” motif. Gino has been making clothing for a while and the craftsmanship shows. His lines and draping are elegant and sophisticated without being fussy. I just loved the group of his work, and it was the kind of look that anyone would be able to incorporate into any look.
After that, I have to confess that I was so distracted with other things happening that I didn’t pay much attention, except that I would say the clothing was beautiful over all. I was totally enamored with my dear friend Amy Rosenberg playing violin, and I was so relieved when the 2 guys sitting in front of me made they way out of the show, stumbling drunk towards the bar upstairs. Regardless, Amy was a knockout, and her talent defiantly lent charm and grace to the runway collections.
What I take away from a fashion show in a smaller city like Denver, is that there isn’t the overall desire to be as individual and progressive in personal style here. Denver shoppers should challenge themselves more by taking note of what designers are making locally, and support those looks, with a flare and developed sense of self within that, and not follow branding and trends for the sake of fitting in. I hope that readers take note and follow such valuable localities, like fashion Denver and 303 magazine’s style section, and push themselves to have more inclusion and support of their community rather than having that feeling of competition and uptightness that comes along with conformity in fashion. Trust in your opinions on what looks good on, and take it a step further to get outside your comfort zone and have fun with the options that are out there.