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.
This past November, I had the honor to have a Shelly Schalamon create me a custom designed for the Colorado Aid’s Project Red Ball event! We had fun picking out fabric and turning my personality into an actual couture gown. My style is very playful and I like to change outfits multiple times in an evening. Shelly created me a dress that went from formal to fun, all in the whooosh of a removable skirt / train! It was so much fun to wear her design on the runway as I emceed the event and over the course of the evening, totally convert the look into something that I could jump into the arms of strong men in 🙂
1) What is your first memory that you were inspired with fashion?
I wanted to go into tap dancing because of the costumes. I loved dress up princess parties, I loved doing makeup too. I wanted to be just like Betty Grable in Moons over Miami and wear all of her beautiful clothes.
2) You are self taught. When did you begin to teach yourself?
I was 10 or 11 when I made doll clothes and then in 5th grade, I was cast as one of the American girls in a play and I made myself a replica dress for the show. I also remember making a bikini as a teen and then eventually made a formal dress that I designed with a seamstress. I drew out the design and picked out the fabrics.
Now I do all the sewing myself but at the time a formal gown was beyond my expertise!
3) How have your fashions evolved since you began?
Now, my designs are more sophisticated with more details. I continue to learn every day! I’m drawn to make gowns and couture fashion. I like intricate things, beading, secret pockets, …the artistry of couture. Designing is like a painting with the fabric as my canvas.
4) Who are your fashion inspirations?
Ralph and Russo , Marchesa & Elie Saab. Locally; Gino Velardi, Deedee Vicory, Carlos Melendez, Eddie Rickey, Anthony Heiman of Nicholas Anthony.
5) How would you describe your personal style sense and the style of your designs?
Personal: Comfortable, classic, retro. I love dressing up and being girly when I go out on the town.
Designs: Classic and timeless, versatile and updated. I like to update old classics like creating a circle skirt but cut it down the middle. I also love adding details like lace. I love the unexpected.
Darlene C. Ritz
Designer, instructor, and chair of the fashion department at RMCAD
How do you define fashion?
I define fashion with the technical definition: “a taste shared by many for a period of time” Eubank, Phyllis G. Tortora & K. Survey of Historic Costume, 5th Edition. Fairchild Books USA, 6/2009. VitalBook file.
This may refer to clothing, art, food, interior design, literature, etc. A fashion is anything that is accepted by a group of people for a period of time.
I use the term “style” in the way that most people use the term fashion. Style is the way a person expresses themselves visually.
How long have you be designing your collection and where can we find them?
I’ve been designing as long as I can remember. My industry experience was mostly in private label for large retailers.
For over a decade, my focus in the industry has been in fashion education and in developing the next generation of fashion industry professionals. I do not currently sell my designs, though I have been active for the past year in using my designs to promote Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) and the relatively new fashion design program (launched in Fall of 2014).
How does your inspiration appear in your designs?
This depends on the project. When working on Pridefest, the inspiration was celebratory. We worked to meet the needs of DeMarcio Slaughter, Pridefest’s Emcee. When working with Athena Ambush the inspiration was RMCAD branded merchandise and upcycling. The inspiration for Gary Lee days was 40s pinup models. For Red Ball the inspiration was an Edwardian corset.
What do you want your fashion to personally express to the world when worn?
I want the person wearing my garments to feel confident; from there it is up to the wearer.
What one designer would you love to collaborate with?
I love to collaborate!! Brandi Shigley is high on my list!!
Denise Dailey, brains behind Prompt Flare Designs and OCH Couture will be joining us at SPLASH, our summer fashion market powered by 303 Magazine! Join us June 26th for an afternoon of fashion fun by the pool!
What were your obsessions growing up?
Color! I would color coordinate everything about my clothes and accessories… I loved matching everything together. I also loved transforming my jacket into my personalized style by applying studs and jewels and wearing my aunt’s brooches .
How did fashion become the symbol for your creative expression?
As a portrait sculpture artist, adding colorful flowers for the hair naturally evolved into wearable art- Hair made from fabric, tulle, ribbon and other materials made for a runway statement maker. And is still evolving with our belts,purses and earrings.
Do you see a stylistic connection between the things you do in your daily life that is reflected into your collections?
Definitely! I see inspiration for styles in plants, bushes, flowers and trees. I see humorous t-shirts made from life’s moments. I love looking at purses and the way women use them. I get inspired thinking about ways to design and add better functionality.
What is your research process like before starting a collection?
I like looking at what the runways are doing and what people are wearing – I draw inspiration from everyone. Generally once an idea strikes, I hurriedly get it onto paper. I show it to my family, friends and team to gauge their response. I’ll look to see what’s already out there and if someone’s already running with it… I check Pinterest, magazines, google and social media and if it seems like there’s a need, I go with it.
How has fashion impacted you?
I love the freedom of expression. Fashion has given me validation to be a little out of the box, which excites me to create. I am constantly stimulated with ideas.
What is your opinion on the fashion scene in Denver from a designers perspective?
Being a Denver native, I have to say that we were always really cool with our own different style. Then it kind of petered out to more of a coastal thing to be fashionable. In 2011, I would have said that I felt I had to be coastal. Today, I feel the Denver scene is young and becoming more and more fashion-forward with all the different cultures and personalities. It reminds me of old expressive times of the late 70’s and 80’s. I feel Denver’s fashion industry is taking off in a big way and this is the place to be for a designer.
We first heard about Minika Ko from our good friend Derek Keenan. He was partnering up with a fashion designer and friend from NYC to create a design for the annual Paper Fashion Show and when he told us about Minika and showed us her website, we knew we had to meet her!
1) When did you first realize that fashion was your passion?
Growing up, I always loved beautiful things. I was a pianist and cellist at young age, and I always enjoyed dressing up for my performances. In this way and more, fashion has always been integral to my life, but I never thought it could be my career until 2013, when I quit my job and traveled the world as part of a soul-searching journey. I read a biography of Alexander McQueen during this time, leading me to pursue a tailoring apprenticeship in Taiwan. Within three months of training, I won Elle Magazine’s New Talent Award, had my first runway show, and began an exhilarating journey working as a designer in France, Los Angeles, and, finally, New York City. I have been living my dream ever since.
2) You are a well traveled and cultured designer! Are there any specific cultures that influence your design aesthetic?
Thank you. Certainly, my designs are influenced by the wonderful places I’ve visited and the amazing people I’ve met in the process. For example, upon landing in Denver, I immediately went to an art show, met many of the local artists, and soaked in the aesthetic of the vibrant scene. It’s such a refreshing experience. Most of all, New York City continues to be my source of inspiration, a cultural hub of beauty, chaos, and everything in between.
3) You have a degree in music business as well as a degree in fashion. Do these 2 ever cross pollinate, connecting music and fashion and if so how?
The beauty of music lies in its composition and timelessness, a trait I hope to achieve in my designs. In my design process, every style line and shape is carefully considered to ensure meaning and function, just like the notes from my sheet music. I aim for timeless, effortless designs, consciously harmonizing with influence from arts and music.
4) What is your design process when designing a new design?
My creations are often inspired by music or other work of art, and are then fleshed out through a draping process, so that I can feel the fabric and visualize how it would flow on the body. With passions for classical music and contemporary art, my designs are often an intersection of tradition and modernity. Hito Steyerl’s Red Alert and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 are both inspirations for my upcoming ready-to-wear line, Kovasky.
5) When you were visiting Denver for the Paper Fashion Show, what did you notice to be different as far as our street style compared to where you live in NYC?
The street style of Denver was more laid back compared to NYC. The combination of urban and outdoor clothing created an inviting aesthetic environment, one that seemed wonderfully open-minded.
6) What were some of interesting and fun things that you noticed about your trip to Denver? It’s always fun hearing about visitors experiences in our city.
I loved the vibrant art scene here in Denver, existing both in galleries and around the streets. Derek Keenan introduced me to many arises in the community and I was amazed by all of the passion and creativity!
7) How did you and Derek conceptualize your design for the Paper Fashion Show and what was your inspiration?
Derek and I spoke on the phone many times both before and after my visit to Denver, determining the proper direction of work. I took over the conceptual design and silhouette of the dress, while Derek handled the texturing and detailing, such as laser cutting the papers.
The museum had asked us to create a samurai-inspired dress, and I felt right at home with that prompt. I grew up wearing kimonos and listening to my grandmother’s bedtime stories about samurai. One such story taught me that samurai would often wear exaggerated armor when they rode in the dark, so that their shadows would appear larger than life and scare of their enemies. Thus, I designed the exaggerated silhouette and sleeves to portray this concept and Derek completed an awesome headpiece to accompany the dress. We worked exceptionally well together.
9) Where do you see yourself in the fashion industry in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
I will be launching my first women’s ready-to-wear line, Kovasky, during the New York Fashion Week in September. It’s a contemporary line that caters to forward-thinking, career-drive women, a group that has always inspired me. Also, with my tailoring background and studies of Couture techniques at FIT, I will continue to make custom gowns for private clients, something that I truly enjoy.
In 5-10 years, I hope to establish Minika Ko as a sustainable, lifestyle brand, creating beautiful designs for women while also launching lines of Menswear, Children’s Wear, and Home, all while ensuring that the creations are responsibly sourced and produced.
10) 3 things if stranded on an island.
Drinkable water, a fabulous dress made of mosquito-proof fabric by Minika Ko, and a lover if available. If not, lip balm would be nice.
Questions asked by Brandi Shigley | Fashion Denver
1. What one memory do you remember that sparked your interest in the fashion world?
When I was 5, my mom taught me to sew by hand for the first time and, I made clothing for my tiny dolls. It kept me busy in my bedroom after school for years. Eventually I gave my dolls and everything to my nieces.
2. What is the mission of your business?
The main mission of Broccoliandcrystals is to provide vegan options for our wardrobes. I also design the clothes in such a way that focuses on the color therapy aspect of clothing. Of course, I’m really passionate about the cruelty free aspect too, like including vegan furs. Recently I’m working on adding an ADD/ADHD focused shopping experience to the mix since those with ADD/ADHD brains work slightly differently but also very creatively. Although Broccoliandcrystals clothing is really for anyone who wants to put color in their wardrobe with classy silhouettes or some that are Avant Garde silhouettes, knowing its vegan.
3. What do you think of our fashion community in Colorado?
I think the fashion community in Colorado is perfect. It’s just finally starting to blossom and it is here to stay as a perennial. If the Denver Fashion industry was a plant, I’d say it finally got to the point where the roots are well established, the leaves have grown and the buds are ready to blossom in fertile soil. It’s a great time to establish your-self and the only competition is your-self. There are plenty of people willing to collaborate, trade for services and get paid for their work, yet not at a ridiculous price; since everyone is trying to find their style, path and go-to contacts. It’s an inspiring place to work and be your own boss. There’s no one to intimidate you and say you’re not good enough.
4. Describe your style, both personally, and in what you are designing.
With Broccoliandcrystals I tend to design classy silhouettes with focus on colors (monochromatic, color blocking, minimalist) and some Avant Garde silhouettes. I like designing something that will last and the seams don’t bug the wearer. Then I throw in a few surprises like vegan fur dresses.
When it comes to adding jewelry on the runways/photo shoots , I do not include that much jewelry or none at all. Maybe it’s because I am still looking for the right kind of jewelry or because I barely wear jewelry myself. But I think the less fuss, the more awe but, things can change anytime.
Personally my style has evolved every year. I’ve tried many ‘style personas’ throughout the years. However since I need to keep dressing up simple, I stick to textures, solid colors and, silhouettes. On weaved fabrics, my favorite prints are floral and, spiritual indie prints in small doses. Sometimes I like stripes. But when it comes to anything knit or crochet, that’s where I go crazy with patterns.
5. 3 things if stranded on an island?
Pack of veggie seeds, pack of flower seeds, and a mix pack for berry bushes. Good to go. Unless there’s vegetation already there, hopefully the island is not just a bunch of sand or I need to grow sea vegetables.
When were you first inspired to design? I’d say I’ve been playing dress up my whole life ;). Randomly enough, I was training to be an indy car race driver and it was then behind the wheel that I got the idea for Kadyluxe. You never know when you’ll get your next big idea, right?
What will you be showing at Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market? Luxury activewear inspired by dance. Dance has been inspiring fashion for decades. We are passionate about capturing a dancer’s unique style in active apparel- something accessible for active-minded women, wearable day or night. More and more women demand active pieces that crossover from studio to street. Made for dance, yoga, barre and leisure designed right here in Denver, CO and manufactured in Los Angeles.
If you had to pick one piece from your collection that most represents your personality, which would it be? The Moto46 Skinny with rose gold zippers. This piece was inspired from the moto sports racing world & named after my favorite MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi, #46. I wear this piece to barre class, with my favorite moto jacket on a date night or paired with an oversized sweater and wedge sneaks to work!
Why should people come see you at the Fashion Denver Holiday Market on December 15th? Because what girl doesn’t need a sexy active pant she can sweat in and go out on the town in!
From your collection, what would be the perfect holiday gift? My Ballerina Wrap. You can wear it all different ways pre and post workout and it’s soft as butter!
Learn more about Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market here!
When were you first inspired to design? As a young child I was always interested in fashion and clothes. I was first inspired to design my own clothes when I started a 50 Dresses project in my basement in 2010.
What will you be showing at Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market? Cute hostess aprons, skirts and holiday tops, dresses and scarves.
If you had to pick one piece from your collection that most represents your personality, which would it be? This season, it’s the Señorita dress and shawl. I love fringe and the bias cut, A line dress is flattering and comfortable.
Why should people come see you at the Fashion Denver Holiday Market on December 15th? Because I love meeting my customers directly and helping them pick a perfect piece for themselves or as a gift. Also Brandi puts on a fun day and it’s not to be missed!
From your collection, what would be the perfect holiday gift? A hostess apron or a scarf!
Learn more about Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market here!
When were you first inspired to design? When I was living and modeling in NYC. Fashion is everywhere in New York City so the city definitely inspired me. But I missed Colorado while I was living there and actually a lot of my line is inspired by this state!
What will you be showing at Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market? I will be showing my handmade jewelry line, MKaltenbach. Made up of semi-precious and precious stones!
If you had to pick one piece from your collection that most represents your personality, which would it be? Turquoise Chevron
Why should people come see you at the Fashion Denver Holiday Market on December 15th? Since I sell most of my jewelry online this will be a chance for people to see the jewelry in person, try it on and see the beautiful stones in person!
From your collection, what would be the perfect holiday gift? The stackable bracelets are a great gift, they can be worn with anything and who doesn’t love a wrist party! Plus they are made up of real turquoise, coral, amber and quartz with an affordable price tag :)!
Learn more about Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market here!
When were you first inspired to design? When I was 7, my mom had a crafting business. Back then, I hated every bit of it! But now I can’t live without it.
What will you be showing at Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market? Our handmade items for the home include: Aprons, potholders, Christmas stockings, and s/p shakers. We will also have clothing for kids, men, and jewelry. The fabrics we use feature Dia de los Muertos, pop culture, sports, and comics; something for everyone.
If you had to pick one piece from your collection that most represents your personality, which would it be? This mother/daughter set is one of my favorites
Why should people come see you at the Fashion Denver Holiday Market on December 15th? We have very unique items that’ll satisfy anyone’s taste.
From your collection, what would be the perfect holiday gift? Everybody needs potholders!
Learn more about Fashion Denver’s Holiday Market here!
Supporting Colorado designers since 2004 through production of fashion markets, fashion shows, and business development