Although designer Mona Lucero began as an artist, fashion has always been in her blood. “When I was pretty small, I remember my grandmother had an interesting collection of handbags and I loved what my older sister and brother would wear as teenagers so I knew from an early age that I loved fashion,” she explained. In 1993, Lucero took her first leap into the fashion design world when she created her first hand-dyed collection — a line that bridged the gap between fine art and fashion, instantly solidifying her place as a visionary in the Denver fashion community.
Today, Lucero is gearing up to show at Denver Fashion Week (DFW) for the finale — the Denver Originals Fashion Show — at the Forney Museum of Transportation on Sunday, March 31. We caught up with Lucero amid her preparation to hear more about what she thinks about Denver fashion, DFW and what she has in store for the rest of 2019.
303 Magazine: Why did you become a fashion designer?
Mona Lucero: I originally wanted to be an artist and went to art school. I was one of those art students that would put outfits together in a funky and eccentric way. I was reading a lot of fashion magazines and fell in love with fashion. I created a small collection of clothes and began to consider myself a fashion designer. I then applied for fashion school at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
303: What role do you think fashion plays in the Denver community as a whole?
ML: I believe Denver has its own style. Denver is a western city that has always had its own independence and that includes having its own style. For instance, certain Denver people have an understated chic and outdoorsy style, whether it be a combination of sweater and jeans and cool sneakers or a designer puff jacket. I never fully appreciated that style until I went to New York and saw how other people tried to pull that look off on the street and even in high-end shops. But no one knows how to wear that understated style like Denver and Colorado.
303: Where do you think Denver fashion will be in five years?
ML: I think that it’s inevitable that as Denver grows, its understated style will go to another level. There’s always been a few fashionistas who step outside the box and with more awareness of fashion comes more experimentation.
303: When was your first Denver Fashion Week? What was the experience like?
ML: I believe it was 2013. It was playful and hectic behind stage and a few of my designer friends were also showing. It was at City Hall.
303: How many seasons of Denver Fashion Week have you participated in? Which was your favorite and why?
ML: Probably about three or four times. My favorite show was November of 2016 when my models wore my “Love and Peace” and faux fur jackets in bright yellow, peach, frosty blue and teal. We had an accompanying video with symbols that I typically use for my brand including eyes, lips and my butterfly logo projected behind the models. The music was “Funk for Peace” by Fort Knox Five. The models brought so much energy and the whole thing came together in a really fun way.
303: What secrets can you share about this new line you’ve created?
ML: It is a nod to my artistic and cultural roots. I’m very excited to be debuting it at Denver Fashion Week.
303: Describe your design aesthetic in a short phrase.
ML: Mona Lucero Designs: Devotion to Style.
303: If you were to write a fashion bible, what would be in it?
ML: The first verse would go like this:
Fashion is about self-expression. Learn sartorial vocabulary. What you wear says something about you. If you know how to speak that vocabulary it can give you a certain power. You can use that power for evil or for good — hopefully for good.
Second verse: Fashion is fun, it should be fun.
303: What do you have in store for the rest of 2019?
ML: I am opening my new boutique called Shop Mona Lucero in the Golden Triangle close to the Denver Art Museum at 126 West 12th Avenue in mid-April.
All photography by Bridget Burnett.