What You Missed at The Denver Fashion Week Emerging Designer Challenge

This past weekend, Denver Fashion Week (DFW) provided seven designers with the opportunity to showcase their collection in an Emerging Designer Challenge Runway Show. The winners of the event will present their work at the upcoming fall season of DFW. 

On Saturday, Aug. 20, two winning designers were chosen. The first winner was decided upon by a panel of six judges consisting of two DFW lead producers, Hailey Hodapp, DFW Creative Director David Rossa, and three local designers: Rachel Marie Hurst, designer of her eponymous brand; Mo Kisale, designer of Killionaire; and Tristan Bego, owner of The Common Collective.  

After a selective process, 7 designers were chosen to present a collection that best represents their work, aesthetic and overall style. Vellu, Saint Destiny, Untamed Vanity, Crio’la, Furlow and runway winners, Kawesii and Hoohah presented their collections to the Denver audience. 

The first to take the runway was Sainty Destiny. The “Showgirl” collection consisted of luxury pieces in black and white. Owner Jennifer Saint-Fort described her design aesthetic as being “dark and moody, while also feminine.” The audience enjoyed the well-constructed, sexy and fitted pieces. 

Next to present was Crio’la, whose collection represented the designer’s process of rebranding into creating more couture pieces. Owner and designer Sandra W. Lopes is from Germany and described her work this past weekend as a “sneak peek into what is to come.” The collection consisted of high glam pieces with leather, silk and feathery textures. 

Furlow presented a collection that challenged the typical materials a designer would use for a runway show. Founder Carley Furlow’s looks consisted of upcycled materials, thus making dresses created with sunglasses, flip flops and even live goldfish. Furlow described her collection of the night, “I Sea You,” as “representing the things found and discarded into the ocean and showing that we see this happening. We make clothing out of household items and trash,” she said. 

Untamed Vanity presented the audience with the most varying prints of the night. Ranging from cow print to cheetah print, the collection consisted of glamorous streetwear that is meant to make models feel confident, sexy and cute. “My hobby of living ‘untamed’ turned into a lifestyle. This collection represents encouraging women to feel confident and why not look good while doing it?,” said brand owner Selethia Tre’Nae

Beautifully fitted silk pieces came down the runway to represent the works of Troy Bush and Kyra Rehman of Vellu. The collection consisted of elevated women’s apparel crafted from natural bamboo silk. Rehman gave some background to the collection, sharing that the two “wanted to create a line that was hyper-feminine that anyone and any body shape that wanted to evoke femininity could wear.” 

Although all the designers provided stunning work, only two of the seven would be chosen to present at DFW later this fall. 

The judge’s choice winner, Kawesii, presented unique African designs in a collection of functional yet glamorous women’s work attire. The brand was born from the inspiration to put African prints into more contemporary fashion designs. Owner Chloe Stephens explained that she “started the line after discovering my ancestry and I found out more about all the different aspects and cultures of West Africa.” Stephens designs the pieces here in Denver, and the construction takes place in Nigeria. 

The timeless construction and extravagant prints caught the eyes of the judges as they ultimately decided Stephens’ collection would be a wonderful fit for DFW this fall. 

To close out the show, the audience also voted on their favorite designer of the night. The people’s choice winner was Hoohah. Taking a widely popular Colorado activity and combining it with high-end fashion is the basis of the ski-wear collection. Having grown up in Vail, owner Anna Tedstrom describes wanting to bring more fun and color into the ‘mountain-wear’ she was seeing in the town and on the slopes. After feeling a lack of fun on the hills, “I wanted to show that skiing can be a lot more fun when you have a bright colored jumpsuit on,” Tedstrom explained. 

Models walked with dusted glitter on their hair, 80s-inspired outerwear looks, along with a subtle Dolly Parton tribute that left the runway audience begging for more. Therefore, Hoohah took home the most audience votes and will continue to present the Denver fashion scene with fun-filled looks this fall for DFW. 

Hoohah Designer, Anna Tedstrom

The show was filled with high energy as each designer portrayed their emerging business and designs to an audience full of Denver locals excited to see the future of DFW. Although there could be only two winners, the passion residing in each and every designer deserves immense recognition. 

It also abundantly necessary to recoginze the hard work and talent that occurs before the show even goes on. The hair and makeup team were dedicated to putting out beautifully constructed hair and stunning makeup. 

Such a creative challenge ignited sparks of excitement for what is to come this fall for Denver Fashion Week. Be sure to keep up to date on the latest DFW events and runway shows on the official Denver Fashion Week site

All photography by Roxanna Carrasco.


Darrel DeWitt

Jax Gritton

Vickie B

Marliese Ray

Mae Jones

Paul Salas

Heather Christine


Jordyn Arielle

Joan Smith

Donny Teran

Nikki Reidel

Kyle Hamilton

Leah Llanes

Nelly Hernandez