The audience erupted in applause as a train of Black models lined the runway wearing simple yet powerful looks by No Sesso, an LA-based designer with a national following. The moment concluded this past weekend’s Color of Fashion runway shows that recognized local, national and international fashion while promoting diverse perspectives and representation.
Color of Fashion, a Black and female-owned nonprofit organization run by models Alicia Myers and Samantha Joseph, strives to uplift the diverse voices and talent within the Denver fashion community and beyond. Through annual runway shows, Color of Fashion brings racial equality in the fashion industry to the runway. Alongside Partner Manager Phillip Hua-Pham, the Color of Fashion team hosted a two-night runway event, featuring various designers from across the globe on Sept. 23-24.
Night One: Jardin Du Vert
The first night, themed “Jardin Du Vert,” took place at Temple Denver. With attendees seated in booths or watching from levels above the runway, the venue was transformed into a dark and mysterious club. The collection from local designers embodied the venue with a striking ambiance.
Local brand Art of Hannah Jane took the runway first with an enchanting yet gothic collection. The upcycled pieces featured butterflies, snakes and other instances of nature. With mysterious undertones, the collection presented a romantic representation of fashion that perfectly fit the venue and ambiance. Designer Hannah Jane creates stunning sustainable garments that are often emblazoned with butterflies or lions to indicate courage and power. As a brain cancer survivor, Jane uses fashion as an outlet to inspire wearers to feel confident and courageous in their style and to face adversity while feeling like the best version of themselves. This collection was different from her previous runway pieces, yet still resembled the artfully beautiful fashion that Jane is known to create.
Denver-based brand MENEZ followed with a daunting collection that exceeded the theme that MENEZ pieces often embody. Brothers Vinny and Saul Jimenez are known to create strikingly beautiful looks with sharp lines, shapes and hues deriving from Sci-Fi inspirations as well as Greek mythology and culture. This collection featured themes from previous MENEZ looks but took the unique fashion designs to a new level. With ready-to-wear looks, the addition of lace, embroidery and carefully constructed trench coats, MENEZ brought life to Temple and energy to match the ambiance of the venue. Additions like zippers, hair resembling horns and entirely black contacts on one of the models resulted in a truly stunning runway segment. The Jimenez brothers always bring new inspiration to every runway show, proving the uniqueness of their brand and the beauty in every MENEZ piece.
Local designer Alejandro Gaeta wrapped up the night with a collection that was unlike anything he has ever created before. Gaeta is typically known for designing women’s evening gowns; however, this collection took women’s fashion to an entirely new level. The looks resembled more of cocktail dresses and going-out wear, making the collection colorful, sexy and groundbreaking. From satin two-piece sets to an entirely sequined mini dress, Gaeta used various techniques like cutouts, asymmetry and various materials to develop an elegant yet sexy collection. The colors and silhouettes of each look embodied confidence and represented the true beauty behind feminity. It was clear that Gaeta made note of fashion trends yet reinvented the beauty of the colors and shapes that are taking the fashion scene by storm at the moment. As a result, the collection captivated the audience, especially when models posed altogether following their final walk, displaying a cohesive yet unique collection that could transform any runway, even in markets like New York and Paris.
Night Two: Musée De Vert
Following a successful first night, Color of Fashion continued with night two themed, “Musée De Vert.” Held at the History Colorado Center, the second runway show featured national and international designers. With an enormous atrium, at times it was difficult to focus on the fashion. However, the runway featured boxes for models to pose in lined with greenery and lights, proving to be a nice touch for audience members to enjoy the fashion. Despite the size of the venue and the leisurely release of the models during each runway segment, the show was successful in providing a diverse representation that is a critical component of the Denver fashion scene. Additionally, Color of Fashion continues to bring impressive designers to the Denver stage that are focused on racial equity and representation in their collections.
Atlanta-based designer SDVR took the runway first with a modern take on Marie Antoinette. Featuring Victorian-era gowns, the collection was created with pastel colors and materials like lace, velvet and satin to establish a royal theme. However, the music and the shapes of the looks resembled more modern representations in fashion, making a unique collection that could be enjoyed by audience members from many walks of life. Complimented with elaborate hair and makeup, the collection told a story that fits right in with the History Colorado Center.
Coming all the way from Amsterdam, Saint Muze took the runway by storm with trendy looks resembling brands that many know and love. From upcycled Nike pieces to sporty sets, Saint Muze used leather, puffer bags and vests to make a statement on the Color of Fashion runway. The collection was athletic ready-to-wear looks that are stylish and dimensional. From an extra-stuffed puffer vest to a half-vest to a completely leather look and more, these pieces were meant for a city and are destined to transform the attitudes of the wearer. Step aside, Saint Muze took the Denver runway and the street style across the world to another level with upcycled vintage pieces.
The final designer accomplished the vision that Myers and Joseph imagined in creating Color of Fashion. With fashion at the forefront, No Sesso celebrated Black beauty and power with a strikingly simple yet chic collection. Using drawstring dresses and cropped hoodies on masculine-presenting models, the looks exemplified the beauty of the bodies wearing each garment. In the final walk altogether, the mission behind Color of Fashion came to light as the stunning Black models walked through the venue, proving that racial representation in fashion transcends the runway. The street style looks made a statement that was much more than a runway collection but focused on the beauty behind Black power.
Throughout the weekend, Color of Fashion proved that Denver is a catalyst for the direction that the fashion industry can and should be moving towards, where race is represented from hair and makeup to models and designers. This form of representation effectively showcases the talent and creativity behind fashion and the intention that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) designers prioritize in their designs. It’s an honor for Denver to be home to a nonprofit like Color of Fashion that is pushing for equality and resisting racially driven norms in fashion protecting white models, designers and creatives to remain at the forefront of the industry. This weekend’s shows proved that diversity in fashion is a must, and organizations like Color of Fashion will continue to call for change in the industry to celebrate fashion and creativity productively.
@nicolemariemakeup, @ohwowkyle, @cydneystaplesartistry (co-lead)
@brittanybrandmakeup, @lovebeautybyelenalopez, @lanifischer.hmua, @dajavumakeup (lead) @glamxglowbeauty
All photography by Roxanna Carrasco.
Editor’s Note: Updated on Sept. 28 and Ocr. 3 to revise credits.