Drag Entertainment Came to Life at Denver Arts & Venue’s PRIDE Fashion Show

Local Designer Darlene C. Ritz of DCR Studios brought a combination of drag and fashion to Saturday’s PRIDE fashion show at McNichols Civic Center. Hosted by Denver Arts & Venues, the runway show celebrated Pride Month through fashion.

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Mayhem Miller

The collections, titled “DCR Studios & DeMarcio: Creating the Glamor on Center Stage at Denver PRIDE” and “In Sickness and In Health,” marked the second runway show of the Denver Arts & Venues Cultural Fashion Runway Series. Alongside emcee DeMarcio Slaughter, Ritz combined a ready-to-wear collection and a drag spectacle. With an appearance from RuPaul Drag Race All Stars Mayhem Miller, the guests were immersed in the production of drag entertainment and fashion.

Slaughter, Denver Pride Fest’s emcee and organizer for the last 17 years, has a special relationship with Ritz. When speaking to hundreds of thousands of Pride Fest attendees, Slaughter can be found wearing Ritz’s designs each year. Therefore, Ritz kicked off the night with a heartfelt introduction of Slaughter. She described the first time she saw Slaughter on a stage and watched as the audience took in every word.

DeMarcio Slaughter Wearing DCR Studios

Speaking to a crowd of members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Slaughter’s audience was filled with individuals “who have had to tell people who they were … in that moment, these people were able to celebrate who they were authentically and truly,” Ritz said.

Slaughter helped Ritz understand the importance of Pride at that moment, giving her a sense of purpose in her fashion designs as well. Therefore, the two were the perfect match to celebrate Pride Month in a runway setting.

The show featured several collections from DCR Studios, proving to be an astonishing feat for Ritz as a designer. Each collection was cohesive, yet brought in themes from DCR Studios’ overall brand image and message.

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Glitter and sequins took the forefront in the first collection. From elaborate sequined jumpsuits to glittery capes, these looks were top-notch. Each model appeared to be fit for royalty – paired with a crown, jeweled accessories and all.

Another collection was entirely focused on ready-to-wear fashion. Featuring tees with “every body is beautiful” emblazoned on the front, these looks were fun, flirty and fabulous. From a tie-dye tee to a floral pantsuit, Ritz created looks for anyone regardless of their style, body type, sexuality, etc. 

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An entire runway segment was dedicated to the looks that Ritz has created for drag entertainers. True to DCR Studios’ style, this collection was bold and beautiful. Featuring shimmery and glittery fabrics and materials, these looks would elevate any drag performance.

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The final collection showcased the models of DCR Studios one final time with an array of looks that were sexy and chic. Mesh construction with roses and floral embellishments popped on the runway, leading to glittery fringe vests, feathered capes and more.

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In between each runway segment, several drag queens took the stage with lip sync performances, showing off their fashionable fits. Attendees erupted over performances from Mayhem Miller, Vivienne Vionnet and Ophelia Peaches who took McNichols by storm and interacted with the crowd at the same time.

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Drag is an influential movement that aligns with Pride in allowing members of the LGBTQIA+ community to express themselves and show off their talent in the process. As Slaughter referenced during the show, drag is an art form. It takes upward of two hours for many drag entertainers to apply makeup and hair. Therefore, a runway show in recognition of Pride Month wouldn’t be the same without drag performances.

DCR Studios is built upon the mission to create inclusive and sustainable fashion, and it was clear that Ritz did just that at this show. The energy was high and the fashion was phenomenal as the Denver fashion community paid tribute to Pride Month and celebrated all that our local creatives have to offer.

To see DCR Studios up close and personal, don’t miss this year’s Denver Pride on June 25-26, hosted by Slaughter. 

All photography by Roxanna Carrasco.
Editor’s Note: Updated on June 16, 2022 to clarify that the drag entertainer’s looks were not created by DCR Studios.