Asterisk Denver was illuminated in red on Dec. 2 as the Colorado Health Network hosted their annual Red Ball in honor of World AIDS Day. Hundreds of attendees showed up to support a great cause while getting the chance to attend a creative, lively show that broke traditional expectations for a runway.
As guests trickled in, DJ Sinna-G in a sparkly red jumpsuit set the mood with contemporary and upbeat music. Projectors above the runway displayed black and white photos and videos of historical footage of LGBTQ talent, protests and news articles highlighting HIV and AIDS epidemic. RnB artist Dzirae Gold followed with sultry original songs and classic remakes. Guests were dressed according to the theme of the evening—wearing red dresses, suits and boas to show support.
The show started around 8:30 p.m. with an upbeat performance by local drag queens, Bambinaa Donutt, Samora Kash, and KC Saint Anthony. Amanda Carlson and Authentic: Grooves dance company soon followed with a contemporary dance routine.
DCR Studios walked first to the song, “Barracuda,” by Heart, setting the scene for their fierce runway show. Designer Darlene Ritz clearly has a love for color, as many designs were bright and eye-catching. DCR Studios commits themselves to be “ethical, sustainable, gender and size-inclusive,” which was represented clearly in this runway with diverse models in clothes perfectly fit to them.
Zugatu, a custom design shop in Westminster, took on a whole new realm of designs in their upscale show. With flowery, sheer kimonos and shimmery long dresses all detailed with gold accents— models look like royalty as they walked down the runway. Their most significant look was a floor-length jacket with pink and gold flowers and gold trim.
Utierre followed with an edgier collection including chains sewn into clothes, plunging v-necks and a color palette of mainly black and neutrals. Los Angeles-based designer Oscar Utierre has a talent for designing looks that flatter and cross the borders of traditional luxury wear. The brand first took to the runway in 2015 at Denver Fashion Weekend and since then, has brought new and exciting designs to the city’s fashion scene.
GymShark models strutted out in color-coordinating pairs. These workout sets from the well-known athletic brand were all in varying shades of pink and red, including both tight-fitting sets and some baggier, lounge-wear outfits. They concluded their runway by showing off their best workout moves—showing how much mobility GymShark clothing can provide.
Models with incredible silhouettes walked the runway representing SKYE|AIRE. Some of the most memorable looks were a black and white dress with bat wings and a dark mauve one-piece with a long, flowing train. The juxtaposition between the slicked-down head caps and the bold clothing aesthetics made designer Skye Barker Maa’s avant-garde looks a unique addition to the show.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design students presented their unique designs, with red aspects tying the collection together. Some designers took a more professional approach with a red mock neck dress and cropped suit jacket, while others went more avant-garde with a floor-length, red vest of flowing, netting material. The audience was able to match the designer with their outfit as they walked the runway together to conclude the collection.
Models of Baskit had the entire crowd smiling and laughing as they danced down the runway in their bright red briefs. Nothing was held back as men of all ages confidently strutted down the runway in varying styles of underwear.
Adobe Darko is a common name to see in the Denver area as designer Chaim Bellinsky participates in many runways throughout the year. This season, he presented a whole new collection at Denver Fashion Week including new form-fitting dresses and button-up men’s shirts. Red Ball attendees were lucky enough to see this collection on the stage again, but with two additional looks. Known for his playful phrases and take on popular logos, Adobe Darko never fails to impress and excite crowds.
Menez models, in group formation, dominated the stage with their entrance—resembling more of a performance than a runway show, as they strutted on-beat with the music. Menez aims to bring out the “bold, brave and elegance in everyone,” and this collection was no exception. Some of the most significant looks included a tan leather, monochromatic two-piece skirt and top, as well as a long, deep purple puffer with artistic flair.
The final looks of the night were not just a single designer, but a collection of brands: Artisan Optical, FM, Path Wellness, P2M Jewelry and DU/ER. Collectively, they delivered outfits consisting of tees, crewnecks, and statement glasses made for everyday wear. Last to walk as part of the collection was a model celebrating his 73rd birthday on the runway. He was met with a flurry of red balloons at the end of the stage.
In total, the event raised nearly $70,000 for the Colorado Health Network to continue helping those in need and put on an unforgettable runway show for fashion lovers in Denver.
All photography by Jackson Davis.