Color of Fashion 2021: Transcending Runway Fashion Through Diverse Representation

Denver fashion reached a new level this weekend at Color of Fashion, a pair of runway shows that brought together designers from across the country. 

This wasn’t just any fashion show. The message behind the event and the founders’ visions is what made Color of Fashion a truly unforgettable experience. According to the event program, Color of Fashion included “official shows highlighting all the colors of fashion and beauty by bridging the gap between diversity and high fashion.” 

Abby Schirmacher, 303 Magazine, Denver Fashion, Color of Fashion, RedLine, Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, Lucille Reynolds, Alicia Perrillo, Aida Kaas, Menez to Society, Alejandro Gaeta, Sergio DV Robinson, Vintage and Soul, Gyidah, Jasmine Lewis, Delise’ Ana, Stevie Boi, Samantha Joseph, Alicia Myers

Lucille Reynolds. Photo by Molly Olwig @giwlo

Founders Samantha Joseph and Alicia Myers are heavily involved in the fashion industry as previous models. As two Black women, both Joseph and Myers have faced the lack of representation in fashion. They created Color of Fashion to disassemble previous structural inequities in the fashion industry to create a space for all fashion to be celebrated, regardless of race. 

“We just physically want to create something where everyone can feel amazing. So backstage models can be like ‘wow they care for me, wow I wasn’t worried that somebody didn’t know how to do my hair,’” Joseph said. “So, we just felt like there was something missing. And we took it upon ourselves to change that. You can be the change you want to see or you can just sit around and do nothing.”

Color in its simplest form was a focus for both of the shows. Designers from across the country brought colorful and vibrant collections. The premise of the event was to also focus on people of color in the process. Therefore, night two featured all Black designers. 

The overall mission behind Color of Fashion is one-of-kind, but the event itself is also groundbreaking in the Denver fashion community. “Along the lines of bringing high fashion to Denver, we have designers coming in from all over, you know from the likes of New York and Los Angeles and Atlanta. From places that have not been shown here previously,” Myers said. “So that is something we haven’t seen in Colorado and that is something that helps us stand out from other shows.” 

Between the incredibly unique venues and the astonishing collections that took the runway this weekend, Color of Fashion was the perfect way to celebrate diversity and fashion. 

Night One — Colour 

Themed Colour, night one was quite the spectacle. The event was held at RedLine, an art gallery fostering social change through abstract paintings and sculptures. A majority of the pieces in the gallery represent people of color and unique cultures, fitting right in with the mission to create an inclusive space through Color of Fashion. The show was intimate with only about 50 guests in attendance, and the runway itself was very avant-garde. For each collection, models walked to the center of the gallery where they posed on pedestals until the next model replaced them. This allowed attendees to experience the looks for an extended amount of time and proved to be an  eccentric take on runway structure. 

Lucille Reynolds kicked off the night with a beautiful collection. As a New York-based designer, she was excited to be in Denver for the event. “It was my first time in Denver and it was just kind of a really great opportunity not only to get to come to the city, but to put on a show as well,” she said. 

Abby Schirmacher, 303 Magazine, Denver Fashion, Color of Fashion, RedLine, Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, Lucille Reynolds, Alicia Perrillo, Aida Kaas, Menez to Society, Alejandro Gaeta, Sergio DV Robinson, Vintage and Soul, Gyidah, Jasmine Lewis, Delise’ Ana, Stevie Boi, Samantha Joseph, Alicia Myers

Lucille Reynolds. Photo by Molly Olwig @giwlo

Reynolds’ collection featured looks with lots of pastel pinks and teals. Her looks were ruffled, floral, bright and soft. The collection felt regal but playful at the same time. Models wore pink bobs and almost pranced across the runway as if they were floating. While the show felt like a fairytale, it was really an ode to the pageant system. The collection reminisced on “the high-glitz pageant system in the South … the big skirts, the volume, the glitter, the little like pastels and feminine colors. So pageants and girlhood were a big part of it,” Reynolds explained.

Although Reynolds never participated in pageants directly, “I grew up around pageants, I grew up around the culture, it was such a big part of the culture I lived in,” she said. As a Georgia native, “I was always kind of interested in it, so that evolved later in fashion.”

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Alicia Perrillo’s collection followed, setting a completely different tone. The Chicago-based designer brought texture to the runway with a variety of looks that featured feathers, sequins, fur, tulle and much more. The collection screamed upscale New Year’s Eve through the metallic gold and silver accents as well as black, white and reds that studded the runway. Some of the looks were straight from the ’20s featuring Gatsby-like fringe flapper dresses, fur accessories and feathered garments. The collection was a contemporary rendition of previous eras while celebrating fashion in the process. Perrillo brought a rainbow ombre sequined dress, an iridescent dress with layered tulle, pearls and more to the runway and each look elevated the last.

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Aida Kaas took over the gallery next, creating an entirely new environment with her unique collection. As a New York City-based designer, her collection was a mix of high fashion pieces that are also appealing to the everyday fashionista. The collection featured a feathered hot pink dress, a pink pantsuit, a cheetah dress with cutouts on the sides and back, a red cape adorned with matching red gloves, a purple jumpsuit and much more. The vibrant colors and sexy silhouettes stole the show as Kaas brought a beautiful collection to Color of Fashion.  

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Following a brief intermission, beloved Denver designers Menez to Society took the runway with a new collection unlike anything they have created before. The power and edginess that accompanies Menez collection’s reached an entirely new level in this show. The collection resembled upscale streetwear with lots of zippers, leather, abstract shapes and more. The models walked with purpose and the result was a resemblance of a Menez army. Even the nails, created by Kristin Rossi, were edgy with chains hanging from the models’ manicures. The collection was mostly black, tan or gold but several looks featured a pop of color with a baby blue garment or accessory. Towards the end of the show, a white lace bodysuit with tulle and sparkles emerged. From that point forward, the collection featured more color with bright white looks. Overall, Menez came to impress as the collection was bold, beautiful and striking. 

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The final collection of the night was a showstopper to say the least. Denver-based designer Alejandro Gaeta brought elegant looks that were truly works of art. For Gaeta, being a part of the show was an honor. “It’s not just a fashion show, it’s not just an event. You know Alicia and Samantha had a purpose, and that’s what I love about them that it wasn’t all just about fashion, it was also about highlighting you know inclusivity, highlighting diversity and that was like so important for me because especially nowadays because of everything that’s going on in the world, I feel like there’s no better time to really focus on that and bring that out. And why not do it with fashion,” he said. 

As the models posed on the pedestals in the center of the gallery, it felt as if the pieces themselves belonged on the wall like the rest of the art. The collection featured sleek gowns with black and white silk bows and drapery. Some of the dresses were mermaid shaped, others included a long train and many had delicate details and shaping. The models had slicked-back hair with white pins. 

In terms of inspiration, “I gravitate a lot towards a more higher fashion and you know, it’s very important to me to highlight the female body and to really accentuate, no matter what size, no matter what color, no matter what shape, and so I feel like I wanted to portray that into fashion,” Gaeta said. “I also had a whole idea of like if fashion wasn’t a piece of art on the wall, like how would that come to life and how would that look. And so that spoke for like a lot of the big volumes that I have and the bows and all that like structured stuff. That was my main inspiration, I wanted to tell a story.”

Overall, Color of Fashion night one was a unique experience. The avant-garde runway structure allowed guests to feel a part of the collections, and the intimacy of the venue made for a beautiful way to celebrate inclusivity in fashion. 

Night Two – Noir

Color of Fashion night two was even more eccentric than the first night. Located at the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, this event was unlike a typical runway show. A winding path surrounded by hanging trees served as the catwalk, while guests were seated along the sides. It turned out to be a beautiful day and the crisp summer air was a perfect match for an event that featured upscale charcuterie and mocktails. The collections amongst the scenery was breathtaking. 

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The show began with a collection from Sergio DV Robinson, an Atlanta-based designer. The collection was a perfect match for the outdoor scenery as it featured bright colors and floral embellishments. The gowns were tinted with an essence of spring. Oranges, pinks, greens and purples were brought to life with sheer overlay, feathered flowers, large sleeves, silk trains and more. The collection could be defined as garden luxury and each piece was full of detail and color. Robinson took the runway after the final walk in a black sequined and feathered look, looking incredible as ever. 

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Vintage and Soul followed with an upbeat and fun collection that was straight from the ’80s. A majority of the collection featured two-piece sets, each with its own unique flair. While the collection was vintage through and through, there were some subtle remnants of current trends as well. The models adorned pearls, socks under their heels, colored leather, feathers, knit, fishnets and much more. There was any texture you could imagine from sequins to corduroy. The music rang through the garden as attendees clapped along, feeling like Vintage and Soul was taking us back in time to the days when fashion was bolder and more eccentric than ever. 

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The show continued as Gyidah, a Denver-based brand focused on sustainable fashion, took the runway. This collection was contemporary, professional and quite frankly bad ass. Each look incorporated material from a business suit, a button-up, a tweed jacket, etc. The result was sexy business casual with gold embellishments, corsets and sheer fabrics. What is typically considered men’s business wear was upscaled to create pieces for women, making something somewhat unconventional look stylish. 

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Jasmine Lewis’ collection followed, setting the scene for a futuristic and extraterrestrial vibe. The models wore elaborate braids with zip ties in their hair that created an interesting alien-like illusion. The collection was similar to Lewis’ past runway looks, but it elevated her previous work and took fashion to a new level. Ruffles, satin, netting and more materials made each look unique. Teal, white and blue tones added to the futuristic presence of the collection and made this show unforgettable. 

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The next collection to take the runway was created by Delise’ Ana, a Los Angeles-based designer. The show was split into three distinct themes. The first theme featured abstract shapes and denim blue tones, and each model wore bright blue sequined lipstick. The second theme was even more extravagant with shapes protruding from black, white and pink striped looks. The final theme stood out with bright green eyelashes on each model and navy blue striped looks featuring lots of metallics and shapes. This runway collection was fresh and vibrant and brought an abstract concept to high fashion. 

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Menez to Society stole the show for another night with an entirely different concept. A predominantly menswear collection featuring athleticwear and upscale streetwear took on the same powerful persona but with a different essence. The collection incorporated accessories like large chains, zippers and bags. The looks were daunting and the finale included two women’s looks defined by textured dresses and asymmetrical lines. Menez never disappoints when it comes to runway fashion, and their collections continue to captivate the Denver fashion scene. 

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Celebrity stylist Stevie Boi took to the runway for the conclusion of the event with his flashy and glamorous sunglasses line. Some of the glasses had colorful barrettes on them, others sported large sunflowers and all of them were just downright fabulous. The edgy streetwear looks were simple but stylish, accompanied by chunky sneakers and trendy accessories. Several looks featured bandana material while others were velvet or studded. The result was classy but casual and trendy at the same time. The final look was a completely sheer fishnet dress, and Boi walked alongside this look hand-in-hand for the finale. Boi brought his A game to Colorado yet again. 

Overall, this garden runway show was a beautiful celebration of high fashion and the designers who brought their stunning collections. The event encapsulated diversity in fashion and the result was a comfortable space for attendees to enjoy fashion in its truest form – a means of expression, love and creativity.