Genesis Fashion Show Debuts Mental Health-Focused Collection

Billions of people suffer from mental health and with that comes a discussion that has been ongoing for years. To help continue and bring awareness to that discussion, designer Jennifer Burback partnered with Mental Health Colorado (MHC) to debut her immersive collection. 

Prior to the show, guests had the opportunity to learn and gather more information about MHC and the services they provide. Each guest was also given a gift with a keychain made from materials seen on the runway and a mental health bracelet. 

Titled Genesis, Burback wanted to tell a story of someone battling with mental health and being able to overcome it and come back stronger. The name “Genesis” means a new beginning and to Burback, that was a perfect representation of her collection. 

“I actually left my corporate and contract job to focus on this collection fully,” Burback said. “I was like this really feels like freedom, a new beginning for me and it just felt right.”

The show began with powerful music and a single model emerged with fierce, pale makeup, emphasizing the intensity of her eyes. Dressed in all white with straight jacket-like clasps hanging over her arms and a sheet crisscrossed over her dragging on the floor, the model ended her walk in the middle of the runway.

The next model, also dressed in all white, walked up to the first and took away the sheet. Following the second model, the third took off the cropped straight jacket symbolizing growth. 

As the collection progressed, the music intensifies and each model waled the runway with the same severe look in their eyes. Dressed in white or gray, each model represented someone battling their own mind. 

“The whole idea of her getting dressed and undressed on the runway was something that I felt was really powerful,” Burback said. “I wanted to tell a story of one person who can start at a place where they feel like they are struggling but then move through it and become strong and more powerful.” 

With a background in haunted houses, Burback tapped into that aspect and drew from the daunting and trapped feeling of asylums. Each look had zippers and clasps to represent the confinement but as the show progressed, the zippers and clasps became less and the music became softer. 

Music was another key component of bringing the collection to life. In the first half of the show, Burback played “I Started a Joke,” from the movie “Suicide Squad” to represent the battle with mental health. In the second portion, she took inspiration from the scene in “Stranger Things,” by playing “Running Up the Hill.”    

“That was such a powerful scene,” Burback said. “You can relate that to so many different things in anyone’s life so why not embrace that? We’re strong enough to have something so dark that we’re trying to not let it consume us but we can be free from it and run and grow and become a stronger person.” 

The idea of finally breaking free was shown throughout the second half of the show. Similar to the first half, the opening model stopped in the middle of the runway wearing the same white outfit. The second, rather than taking off a garment, zipped a red dress up the first model. The third then follows with a red fabric placing it over her shoulders. The red and white symbolizes strength and finally being set free from their mind. 

The journey Burback took the audience through showed the strength it truly takes to overcome a battle with mental health. 

“My mission was to create an enriching experience that shifts the way we think about fashion in a manner that spreads awareness, encourages activism and provides positive change through fashion,” Burback said.

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All photography by Roxanna Carrasco.

Learn more about mental health and different resources at Mental Health Colorado.

Models: Daniela Hernandez, Enileska Mayora, Andrew Galan, Jamie Howell, JoJo Hudgings, Mason Harrison, Kaylie Rawlings, Maya Wilson, Ruth Love, Sade Isika, Amelia Solano, Justin Martinez
Makeup Artist: Lili Aguilar
Hair Stylists: Darrel DeWitt and Art
MC: Art