This year’s Frock Out, a bi-annual event held at the Denver Central Library, comes hot on the stiletto heels of Frock Out: Sideshow in 2010. Co-produced by Fashion Denver’s Brandi Shigley and Denver Public Library’s Fresh City Life, this independent designer’s challenge is a Project Runway-esque competition that will highlight the best in Mile High City fashion. A panel of fashion experts carefully selected the 12 designers participating in this year’s event. The designers range from a 15-year-old to a 62-year-old – both of whom are making their runway debuts – and each designer will be competing for the grand prize valued at more than $2,000. Judges include Project Runway designers Fallene Wells and Mondo Guerra. Frock Out 2012 takes place on April 19 with a VIP cocktail party at 6:30 p.m. and a fashion show at 8:30 p.m., followed by an after-party at Beauty Bar.

The theme this year, “Come Undone,” was inspired by the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. As such, the judges have challenged the designers to create a finale piece that is reminiscent of the opulence, decadence and hubris associated with the Titanic’s maiden voyage.

303 Magazine recently caught up with one of Frock Out 2012’s featured designers, Gabriela Martinez, creative director and senior fashion designer at Gabriela Designs and Alterations, Denver. Martinez, who first started designing clothing for her dolls at the age of 8, recently won the “Rising Star” award from Fashion Group International. She also won first place at Fashion Fest 2010 and was selected as a featured designer at Forever Darling Fashion Show IV. Even more impressive, the Denver Art Museum also selected her as a featured Denver designer during the museum’s current Yves Saint Laurent exhibition.

Martinez learned to sew at a very young age, and, as she grew up, she started designing clothing for her sisters. She then went on to study fashion design at the Universidad Regional del Norte in Chihuahua, and she opened her first boutique at age 22. In Mexico, she designed clothing for the high-fashion elite who appreciated the couture clothing she made and the work involved to produce the garments. “Designing evening wear and bridal gowns is where my talents are best suited,” she says. “I enjoy making beautiful clothing, but, more importantly, I love making the wearer of my designs feel gorgeous and elegant. I have learned in my 20 years of fashion design that fashion is art; the appreciation of art is in the eye of the beholder.”

Since evening wear and bridal gowns are her specialties, Martinez describes her design aesthetic as innovative, sophisticated and as elegance redefined. “I draw inspiration for my designs from many aspects of my life,” she explains. “My family and friends who support, motivate and inspire me; the luxurious fabrics before me; the gorgeous colors in nature; vintage pieces from style icons of the past, such as Coco Chanel; and, of course, if it is a commissioned piece, the wearer of the garment and the event they are attending.”

Martinez recently created several designs for the Denver Art Museum Shop to coincide with the YSL exhibition. They are elegant and modern designs structured in black and white with touches of red silk for a pop of color. The dresses are fun and flirty, tasteful and very Jackie O. However, the designs she’s working on for Frock Out 2012 will show a different side of Martinez. “My evening wear designs for Frock Out will be all new designs,” she says. “Having such a beautiful and romantic time period to use as inspiration has moved me to design and construct dresses that have touches of turn-of-the-century detail with a modern twist – a sort of deconstructed design – influenced by luxurious fabrics, structure (corsetry), attention to detail and femininity.”

When Martinez isn’t busy designing, she focuses on sharing her talents and experience with others in the community. For example, she’s currently working to open a sewing training program for underprivileged youth in Denver. “My dream is to start a school or training program in Denver to teach sewing skills and design to individuals who show an interest in choosing this as a profession,” she says. “Vocation programs are necessary to help others get ahead and learn new skills. The advice I would give to young designers would be to stay true to your aesthetic and vision. Deliver quality work and pay attention to the details. Keep abreast on fashion and design. Work hard, have a plan, have fun and stay focused.”

Tickets to Frock Out 2012 are: $100 for VIP, First Class (front-row seating, VIP gift bag and pre-show cocktail party); $50 for VIP, Second Class (reserved Level 1 seating and pre-show cocktail party); and $20 for Steerage, Third Class (Levels 2 and 3, standing-room only). Purchase tickets online or by calling 720.865.2054. All sales benefit Fresh City Life programming at the Denver Public Library.

 

Misty Milioto is affectionately known as Denver’s Fashion Gal. She covers haute trends and local designers in the Mile High City, all while keeping a close and critical eye on national trends that are currently rocking the runways and the major glossy magazines. Stay tuned for all the best in fashion that Denver has to offer.

 

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