Denver Fashion Week Highlights Accomplished Local Designers

The renowned Denver Fashion Week, presented by The Green Solution and Medicine Man, is back this week to showcase exceptional talent once again. This year, designers Darlene Ritz and Steve Sells have intriguing collections to showcase. They are here to talk about what audiences can expect to see at DFW, as well as their sources of inspiration.

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Darlene Ritz

Darlene Ritz has a rich background in the fashion industry. In New York City, she spent time as an assistant designer for notable companies such as Uniqlo, and was later asked to launch an office in Los Angeles. This happened after getting an offer from a New York textile design company. When Ritz arrived in LA, she studied advanced digital design. According to Ritz, she came to the realization that she truly loved the education process.

“Mentoring and teaching the next generation of fashion designers has been an incredibly fulfilling professional experience, and I love it. Somewhere along the way, I remembered that in addition to ushering in the next generation, I had a design voice and as an artist and a teacher, I needed to foster that as well. So, in 2017 DCR Studios was born,” explained Ritz.

For Ritz, DCR Studios emphasizes the belief that clothes should fit us how our bodies already are. This new line is inspired by this concept — as well as over 30 years of design experience. “Our physical beings are amazing in what we can accomplish through them. Moreover, the adventures we experience and the joy we feel. ‘Every Body is Beautiful’ and every person deserves to feel comfortable in their skin,” expressed Ritz.

Denver Fashion Week beautiful

Photo by Evan Jensen. Model, Katie Pitts

This year at DFW, audiences can expect to see an array of feathers, sequins and 3D lace. According to Ritz, she is combining what she does with DeMarcio, the Emcee of Pridefest Mainstage, private clients and ready to wear. Audiences should also look out for side trousers, slim pants and jersey knit. Moreover, DCR Studios strives to consciously use fabric they already have, as well as use fabrics such as bamboo jersey and organic cotton. “While we are not 100% there yet with this collection (I have yet to find sustainable sequins) we are moving in that direction,” said Ritz.

Many fashion designers have someone they look up to when they create. Whether that be a close family/friend, or notable designer. Ritz describes her mom as her inspirational fashion icon she looks t0. “She lived her life with vivacity and pure joy. She taught me that life is meant to be a celebration and that fashion should be fun. That will always be the driving force in anything I create,” explained Ritz.

For Ritz, this collection has greatly impacted her on a personal level and has even graced the stage at New York Fashion Week. As a designer, Ritz places emphasis on designing for body positivity and believing in her mantra, ‘Every Body is Beautiful’. Ritz describes this collection as celebrating feeling beautiful in your own skin. Moreover, she wants this to be a time to feel it for herself as well.

“I have been designing for body positivity and creating clothes for those that wear them to live their most authentic lives, and yet all this time, I have been feeling out of place in my own body — feeling as though my body was not good enough,” stated Ritz. “In New York, for the first time, I felt it in my heart. If I am going to believe that ‘Every Body is Beautiful’, I have to believe that about myself as well. That is not an easy thing to do!”, stated Ritz.

Denver Fashion Week runway

Photo by Evan Jensen. Model, Davry Ratcliffe

Steve Sells

Steve Sells is the owner and designer of Steve Sells Studio. For over 20 years now, Sells has been designing clothing and showing two collections every year at New York Fashion Week. According to Sells, he was originally a painter and a graphic designer in the late 1970s to mid 1980s. “I began to shift to working with textile design, with a focus on large wall installations. Clothing design evolved as a way to further use the textiles we were creating,” explained Sells.

This year at DFW, audiences can expect to see layers pieces from Sell’s Spring/Summer 2022 Collection. This collection is straight from being shown to store buyers at New York Fashion Week last month. Everything from accessories, wraps and scarves in different materials, such as velvet will be complimented with the pieces. These accessories are from the Holiday Collection. As each piece is shown on the DFW runway, they will go live on the official website, Steve Sells Studio.

READ: Local Designer Steve Sells Opens a Virtual Boutique

Denver Fashion Week pink dress

Photo by Jonny Edward

“This will allow 303 attendees the chance to shop the looks as they are being seen in Denver for the first time,” stated Sells.

Inspirational figures such as Issey Miyake and Ralph Rucci are institutional figures who Sells looks up to for what he describes as “the purity and elegance of their sculptural garments.” Furthermore, when it comes to “saritorial style,” as Sells describes, he looks up to figures such as Zendaya and Tilda Swinton.

This collection, as a whole, encompasses a powerful meaning to Sells. “This collection symbolizes a rebirth, and re-awakening after an extended period of social isolation and political unrest,” stated Sells.

On a creative template, Sells loves working with clients at Trunk Shows, working with luxury textiles, draping and drafting and much more. “The challenging aspects of running a small independent clothing line are the number of hats I’m constantly wearing,” said Sells. “Moreover, there are challenging aspects also included such as order fulfillment and inventory control. As a small, independent clothing line, there are often many roles to take on which can be overwhelming in moments.”

The three-night event will take place on Thursday, November 18, Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21 at the McNichols Civic Center Building. Ritz’s ready to wear collection will be showing on Night 1 and Sells’ runway looks will debut on Night 2, celebrating local designers. 

Denver Fashion Week green dress

Photo by Jonny Edward