For almost a decade, Denver Fashion Weekend (DFW) has showcased Denver’s diverse fashion scene. Throughout that time we’ve seen names rise from the runway to become established local brands and designers.  This year, 303 Magazine wanted to introduce you to the new faces of Denver’s fashion before they get big. Read on to get to know the designers new to the DFW runway. All the designers will present on Thursday, March 30 so get your tickets here.  

Duane Topping

Thursday, March 30

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303 Magazine: When did you first become interested in fashion and designing?

Duane Topping: I have always loved fashion.  Even while on deployments to the Middle East, I would be on the prowl for the loose fashion magazine in care packages.  My dream at that time was to be a fashion editor.  I retired from the military in 2012.  As you can imagine, I had a difficult time readjusting to life outside of that rigid environment.  After about two years of struggling, I taught myself to sew as a way in which to redirect the negativity into a positive artistic expression.  From that point on I was hooked on fashion design.

303: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a designer?

DT: By far the biggest is the judgment I get as a designer.  I don’t look like a fashion designer, and I think at first glance I surprise people.  It’s always interesting to contact people via phone or email and then finally meet them in person.  That reaction usually summarizes the challenge of my outward appearance.  I am far more than the what you see, but, perhaps that’s my advantage as well.

303: What inspired you to be a part of DFW?

DT: My first ever fashion show that I attended was DFW.  It feels so poetic and honoring to debut my spring line at DFW, I am absolutely humbled by the experience.

303: Perfect go-to/street style outfit?

DT: For me, I’m a biker at heart, so jeans, boots, T-shirt, and my vest.  Everyday.

303: Any Spring & Summer fashion trend predictions?

DT: I think we’ll see a new trend with loose fits and flowing fabrics.  These tend to translate across the greater spectrum of people.

Jeremy Willard

Thursday, March 30

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303: When did you first become interested in fashion and designing?

Jeremy Willard: In my late teens and early twenties. I really wanted some tailored suits, but at the time the European/modern look (super slim) wasn’t popular yet and as available as they are now. I’m on the smaller side, so everything looked baggy and terrible on me. I decided to learn how to sew and tailor myself and realized that I was pretty good at it and enjoyed it.

303: How would you describe your style?

JW: Punk, urban and street influenced. I like subtle humor in clothing.

303: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a designer?

JW: Trying to figure out what to do with my talent and skills as far as my career. I still struggle with that. It’s a really complicated and competitive industry.

303: What inspired you to be a part of DFW?

JW: I’ve never shown my work on an actual runway, so it’s time to put myself out there. I probably wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for my partner encouraging me to do so. (Thanks, Sean.)

303: What’s one fashion trend you wish would come back in style? What’s one you would wish to see go away?

JW: I would love to do a modern take on the leisure suit and somehow make that a thing again. Also, JNCO Jeans would be really fun to see come back.  We need something other than skinny jeans all day, every day. They’re great, but I’m ready for a new era.

 

Lady Jane

Thursday, March 30

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303: When did you first become interested in fashion and designing?

Lady Jane: I fell in love with the glamour of Hollywood, especially in old films. I would dream of myself in beautiful costumes and red carpet gowns, wake up and draw them. After I got into modeling, I started imagining costumes and sets again and decided to start making things to wear for artistic shoots. It grew from practicing an old hobby to learning new techniques and obsessing over past runway shows on YouTube and then to making my own line and showing at Denver Fashion Week.

303: What’s exciting to you about being in the fashion industry?

LJ: There’s always someone pushing you to think outside the box and grow as an artist. I see the world differently than most and I feel I can better express that by showing you something that makes you think. There’s always something to learn and no limits to what you can create.

303Perfect go-to/street style outfit?

LJ: I’m a single mom so versatility and comfort is a must. You can usually find me in tennis shoes, a t-shirt and leggings with a warm vest or a nerdy hoodie during the week. I like to glam it up when I go out and will often make myself a new dress or refashion something from the thrift store or the back of my closet.

303: What are you most excited for with DFW?

LJ: I have an amazing team of hair and makeup artist and models and I can’t wait to see it all come together for the final look! Seeing my vision come to life is really exciting.

303: Any Spring & Summer fashion trend predictions?

LJ: I expect to see a lot of statement sleeves, glamorous flowy florals, art prints and lace.

 

Gabriela Martinez

Thursday, March 30

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303: When did you first become interested in fashion and designing?

Gabriela Martinez: I started learning since I was small child. We are a family of four women and no men so my mother would always make our dresses. She inspired me to be a designer, I am a reflection of what my mother always dreamed to be. I’m also inspired by eras, music, art and traveling; inspiration can come from anywhere in many forms.

303: How would you describe your style?

GM: My style is one of a kind, feminine, elegant and conservative but with a slight touch of sexy. Any woman who wears Gabriela Couture will always feel sure of herself while being the center of attention.

303: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a designer?

GM: I was born in Los Angeles, California but moved to Mexico as a child. After many years, I returned and found myself being challenged by the difference in languages and not being able to completely master it at first.

303: What inspired you to be a part of DFW?

GM: I believe it’s the biggest and most exclusive show in Denver that would allow me to showcase my work and passion in a platform that’s on the highest level.

303: Any Spring & Summer fashion trend predictions?

GM: I believe designers will start to gravitate toward fabrics and textiles that are more organic and of the earth giving into a trend of being earth conscious using the pantone colors of the year this would cause a harmony between those who love fashion and those who love the earth.

Darlene Ritz

Thursday, March 30

 

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303: When did you first become interested in fashion and designing?

Darlene Ritz: My mom was my first fashion icon. She loved dressing all my sisters and I for special occasions. She always had interesting ideas, slightly unexpected, yet tasteful and elegant. I owe my sense of beautiful gowns to her and she is the reason why there is typically an element of “pretty” in my designs.

303: How would you describe your style?

DR: My love of costume history shows in my style. Currently, I am loving Baroque influences  mixed with a bit of warrior queens. This particular collection has elements of medieval warriors, tailored clothing, and corsets. And capes, I love a flowing cape.

303: What brought you back to Denver? Why stay and design here?

DR: I grew up in Colorado, though I have spent most of my adult life in New York, LA, and San Diego. Coming home almost three years ago, it has been great to see how much our city has grown and changed in its thriving artistic community. There is much more support for the independent designer here in Denver than in any of the big cities I have lived previously. Even with New York’s access to fashion fabrics, the ability to make a living as an independent designer is difficult at best. And the growing community of cut and sew manufacturing here in Colorado makes it much easier to produce and replenish small lot production than in LA, where there is heavy competition for cut and sew space.

303: What inspired you to be a part of DFW?

DR: It’s the largest show in the area. Production values of the DFW shows that I have seen have been great. Charlie and AB are very supportive. All in all, it has been a great experience for me so far and I can’t wait for show day!

303: What are you most excited for with DFW?

DR: This is the first collection I have done in Denver under my new label, DCR Studios. While I have a large amount of experience in other cities, this is where I grew up. This is home. There is a truly sentimental value to this event for me and I know my mom is watching from above.

 

Tickets for all three nights can be found here.

 

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