Denver Fashion Weekend will be here before you know it. This year we will be bringing out veteran designers alongside newcomers on the runway. Gino Velardi, a long time designer, and participant in DFW, will showcase his latest collection on Saturday, April 1. Known for his drop-dead, runway style gowns, Velardi will be returning to that aesthetic this spring as his models hit the runway.

A Colorado native, he finds inspiration from his surroundings and the changing seasons of Colorado. Last year’s show drew inspiration from the golden age of disco with metallic leathers and afro updos. We can’t wait to see what Velardi will show us this year so we sat down with the designer to talk inspiration, this year’s collection and his native roots. Additionally, the first super model with down syndrome, Madeline Stuart, will be walking in Velardi’s show on Saturday, April 1. Tickets for Denver Fashion Weekend can be found here.


303 Magazine: First of all, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Gino Velardi:  In regards to my upbringing, I was the child of five siblings. I had to adopt that “determination value” in my life and try to set myself apart, and the fashion world was my outlet. I had to inflate this character of a “fashion designer” with very few references (at the time). So, I felt like I had to convey confidence, poise and accuracy. But with each passing year and collection, I grow more and more as a person and a designer.


303: When was the moment you decided to become a fashion designer? What inspired you to pursue this career?

GV: I think it started at a very young age. I remember playing with my mother’s silk scarves, costume jewelry and her real fur coat…recognizing the luxury of textiles and beautiful objects. I never planned on becoming a fashion designer (I was expected to be a trial lawyer), so I guess it all came down to the universe. I stay in fashion because, at this point in my life it defines me to a certain extent, and I’m enriched by that. Plus, I love the hell out of it! I feel like I’ve worked very hard at this career, and it’s been a long, hard road, but it’s what makes my name and my brand, humble.

303: You’ve showcased at DFW in the past, tell us a bit about your experience.

GV: DFW has always been so awesome to me! I get so excited to show each time and hope I’m asked back every year. The excitement comes from being around the most talented artisans in town, all working together to ensure a great show. The goal and energy is fascinating to be a part of! I still get nervous to show, although I’ve been doing this for 100 years, but it’s true.

“DFW is such an important show in recognizing fashion on such a high level here in Colorado…it’s fantastic! And I’m proud to say I was apart of that!” – Gino Velardi

303: What do you hope to showcase in your collection this year? Any previews for our readers?

GV: I was contemplating showing a casual, Resort/Cruise wear collection. But, I felt inspired to go back to my first love which was drop-dead, red carpet gowns! I think that’s what launched my career and reputation. People associate me with this glamorous vision, so I decided to go with this familiar inspiration and show a tasteful and sexy collection. I can’t wait to show!

303: How do you think DFW has helped shape the Denver fashion scene?

GV: DFW is great at showcasing new, upcoming fashion designers. I’m always excited to see who is “new” on the scene and what they’re doing in fashion. It’s endlessly stimulating to me. I can totally appreciate the level they’re all at because I’ve been there myself! Although, everyone has a different vision…it’s all a similar, creative process with a personal and special inspiration for all of us.

303: Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years?

GV: My goal has always been a simple one — well, actually, it’s astronomical! I want to advance my label to a global brand. This ambition has many layers to it. You have to design for all aspects of fashion. I show Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections. I added a resort and cruise-wear line to my resume. I have a side goal of re-launching a menswear collection. I love my venture into accessories, like handbags and boot covers. And dare I say it — someday, a fragrance. I want my name and logo on everything! Is that too much to ask?

Velardi’s Designs at Red Ball