In a dazzling display of creativity and innovation, The Arch in Denver set the stage for a fashion showdown on February 3, hosting the highly anticipated Emerging Designer Challenge Spring 2024. This prestigious event showcased the talents of five up-and-coming designers vying for the coveted opportunity to present their collections at the upcoming Denver Fashion Week in the Spring.
The Arch, a cutting-edge location renowned for supporting up-and-coming artists, was converted into a colorful runway that echoed with the excitement of both fashion lovers and business insiders. The air was charged with excitement as attention turned to the five up-and-coming talents chosen to take part in this intense competition.
Our MC of the night, 9News Entertainment Anchor Erica Lopez, got the audience hyped up and introduced the panel of judges for the night — DFW producer Nikki Strickler, DFW and 303 Magazine Creative Director David Rossa, The Boogeyman’s Closet Carter Cupp, OKIME KOLLECTIONS‘ Emiko Freeman and 303Magazine‘s Fashion Editor Lauren Lippert.
The wide range of themes and aesthetics highlighted the abundance of talent in the up-and-coming fashion industry.
The first to take to the runway was Forever Chained, whose collection seamlessly blended modern aesthetics with traditional craftsmanship. The juxtaposition of using chainmail to create intricate designs, pieces, and clothing with incredible detailing left the audience in awe.
Forever Chained’s designer, Nina Schwartz, was inspired by taking a medieval eye to average chainmail designs. Having been a part of bending in the Denver club scene for a while, she wanted to reflect her history with metal work, welding, and punk aesthetics in her line.
“I take ancient craftsmanship techniques and turn them into modernized streetwear and clubwear,” Schwartz said. “Putting chains on everything I wear has been second nature — sort of my identity. With the perfect blend of naughty and edgy, colorful and shiny, Forever Chained created pieces for every mood and every personality.
Yulia Fashion House
Yulia Fashion House was the next designer to take the stage at the Emerging Designers Challenge. Bringing her distinct visions to life, Yulia Boozer, originally from Ukraine, wanted to bring fashion with a cause to the runway.
From floral, colorful designs to nods to cultural Ukrainian heritage, the runway showcased a kaleidoscope of influences that spoke to the diverse and inclusive nature of fashion. Yulia Fashion House displayed a blend of modern outfits including gowns, with splashes of Ukrainian culture, big floral headpieces, intricate detailing sewed onto different designs, and even the handbags, which Boozer’s mother handcrafted.
“Each of the models is wearing crowns, that have flowers that are important to Ukraine — like the sunflower, poppy flowers, and blue flowers,” she said. “And the collection is all about elegance, beauty, and feeling elevated.” Yulia Fashion House wanted to bring a cultural flair to this Emerging Designer’s Challenge and awed the audience with high-class designs in the process.
Tinsel Dreams presented a collection that pushed the boundaries of conventional fashion. Their avant-garde designs challenged the status quo, demonstrating a fearless approach to style and a commitment to pushing the limits of creativity.
Every outfit captivated the entire room with its shiny and sparkly motif. Designer Amanda Pfeiffer created designs made completely of tinsel. Her business took off when she started selling tinsel jackets on Etsy and decided to create a small line for the challenge comprised of not only coats, but dresses, ass-less chaps, and even accessories.
“I wanted to try making things that I’ve never tried making before, and see how I could take tinsel and make more garments than just jackets,” Pfeiffer said. “I have a lot of inspiration from the jackets I’ve already made and color combinations that are tried and true, and the rest is just like experimentation.” Tinsel Dreams brought a literal rainbow of color to the Emerging Designer’s runway and the glitter of it all was loved by the audience.
The runway came alive with an effervescent burst of energy as the bubbly and vivacious designer of MOSSD, Marcia Kay Davis, took center stage. With infectious enthusiasm, she brought a playful and fun vibe to the runway, radiating joy and exuberance.
“Being a dancer and a therapist, I just love comfortable, beautiful, natural clothing, and so I do a lot of upcycling,” Davis said. “I kind of started teaching myself, and now I have base patterns, and then I just do whatever.”
Specializing in crafting designs that seamlessly marry bohemian chic with ultimate comfort, MOSSD showcased a collection that effortlessly blended style and ease. Davis also wanted to commit to sustainability by incorporating materials with a personal touch, using her grandma’s quilt and even her daughter’s art into the fabric of her designs. This adds a sentimental layer to MOSSD’s creations and highlights her dedication to eco-conscious fashion.
The grand finale of the Emerging Designer Challenge was nothing short of a spectacle as Valerian Projects took the stage, leaving the audience in awe with her unique approach to fashion.
Specializing in the art of repurposing, this visionary designer Rachel Hough transformed discarded curtains, forgotten couches, and various fabrics into a breathtaking collection that exuded Victorian elegance with a seductive and modern twist.
“I’m doing a really laissez-faire lounge/Victorian sexy 70s style, very sexy grandma couch [collection] and it’s all thrifted items or curtains from Goodwill — a lot of it is upcycling. I like to call it ‘Whoure Couture’” Hough said. “I really love not getting rid of anything, even those ugly smoked old grandma curtains, you can cut that up and make it into a bag.”
Valerian Projects managed to breathe new life into forgotten materials, creating garments that seamlessly blended the opulence of the Victorian era with a contemporary, alluring edge. The runway became a mesmerizing display of intricate detailing, rich textures, and a captivating fusion of history and modernity, solidifying Valerian Projects as a force to be reckoned with in the realm of innovative and eco-conscious fashion.
The decision was undoubtedly a challenging one for the judges and the audience to decide who would be given a special chance to display their line at DFW Spring, given the exceptional array of talent. Ultimately, the audience voted MOSSD as the crowd favorite, capturing them with the allure of bubbly excitement in their designs, and a fresh new look on comfort. Capturing the judges’ eyes, and the second winner of the night, Valerian Projects, with a collection that seamlessly blended innovation, craftsmanship, and a fresh perspective on contemporary fashion.
The Emerging Designer Challenge served as proof of the city’s burgeoning fashion scene, emphasizing the importance of providing a platform for emerging talents to shine. As Spring Denver Fashion Week approaches May 11-19, stay tuned for the debut of MOSSD and Valerian Project’s collections, setting the stage for a season filled with cutting-edge designs and the discovery of new voices in the ever-evolving world of fashion.
Photos by: Weston Mosburg
Nails: Nailed by Katy P