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Denver Fashion Week Opens With Sustainability Night – 303 Magazine



With Denver as a highly sought location to live for friends of the Earth — it’s no surprise that Denver Fashion Week’s Sustainable always has a full, rowdy house. Denver may not be known for being best dressed (yet) but with the influence of sustainable designers in the area, we may yet be known for more than accessorizing with a hydroflask.

Hosted by lifestyle influencer, Rayna King with an impressive line up of 10 designers, the show kept everyone engaged with the originality of their runway looks, and all were united by the mission of reusing fabrics and materials to reduce the carbon footprint of fast fashion. 

GARMS 1 of 1

Designer Arianne Burback delivered an encompassing, impactful experience with her first line to be shown at Denver Fashion Week. Matching her emotional energy backstage, GARMS 1 of 1 and this collection were born of passion to go against the norm and truly embrace everyone’s unique individuality. 

Burback’s show began with a video discussing the need to fit in to survive, but rejecting that notion with what was on the runway. Encompassed in 16 looks, the collection was titled “You are 1 of 1” and sought to display self-expression and individuality in the characters Burback created with the models, the clothing, accessories, and hair and makeup. “You are 1 of 1” featured metal, belts, pants of upcycled rugs, fur, and patchwork. Models had various facial piercings and unique dark makeup looks. ‘1 of 1’ was printed on designs, and designs also incorporated wide leg pants and wide exaggerated sleeves.

Models interacted with each other down the runway keeping the audience energy up and switching up music to create a surprising ambience several times. Burback curated the show with the beginning video, the music, the energy, and the clothing to keep the audience hooked. She proved that being 1 of 1 should always be surprising — and catching people off guard with raw individuality can be infectious. The line permits for everyone to embrace their unique ‘1 of 1’ self.

Christos Furs and Leathers

Designer Maria Taltsidis brought her first collection with Christos Furs and Leathers to DFW. Taltsidis’s line is focused on luxury meeting longevity — and hoped the audience would see the line and be open to different styles and possibilities of what could be created with what is already had. Previously having shown at Paris Fashion Week, this was Taltsidis’ debut at Denver Fashion Week.

The collection debuted with upbeat music — “Murder on the Dance Floor.” Hoping to dissuade consumers from buying something new, Taltsidis sought to encourage people to work with what they have. Taltsidis has used old leather couches to create new leather coats and creations. The collection was edgy and sexy, featuring bodycon dresses paired with fur coats, leather dresses and full bodysuits, and tall heels on each model. A brilliant look of multicolored ties sewn together to create a long coat stole the runway.

The movement created by reused ties was captivating and stunning, and the full fur collar kept the look in sync with the rest of the line.

Flash + Rose

Designer Elisabeth Strunk was previously an art educator before switching to being a fashion designer. Strunk began her brand Flash + Rose in just August of last year — and has made impressive headway since. She sees herself as an artist and upcycler and it was evident in her debut show at DFW. Drawing inspiration from minimalism and black and white looks — Strunk was inspired by traditional American tattoos and the line featured hand painted embellishments on all the clothing. 

The show opened with a heavily tattooed model — an intention Strunk set to show the passion behind her creations. Stand out designs were a leather jacket with Medusa painted on the back panel of the jacket, white jumpsuits with broken femur bones, and patchwork painted designs on the looks – mirroring the usual compilation of traditional tattoos. Painted patchwork included a butterfly crying, heart cherries, snakes, roses, swords and scorpions. 

Strunk’s line showed doubles of everything — each outfit was intentionally to be in twos, with differing handpainted images. The goal behind doubling was to show the gender fluidity of her designs and with a diverse group of models, the collection spoke to everyone being able to connect to her pieces, all hand painted and unique as the wearer.


Designer Julie Stermasi of MOONBELLI showed excellent designs using differing and surprising materials. A stand out look from the runway was an all nude look, with a corset and a crochet blanket fashioned into a skirt, with ample volume and shape — surprising and beautiful.

Movement was a priority for Stermasi in her designs — and the opener to the runway flaunted a beautiful cobalt blue open skirt and the draping in her designs and belted accessories created intentional movement for models as they walked down the runway. Standout looks included a long sheer black skirt overlay, paired with peep toe tall black boots, and a gold shimmery skirt with a train. 

All models carried books down the runway — a unique and pleasing touch. Overall, Stermasi’s collection was a gorgeous showing of heritage and diversity — being one of the only lines at DFW’s Sustainable night to show plus sized models.


The DenverGinger is going through her “Freaky Friday” phase. Designer Nicole Manning was ready to bring something entirely new to the runway this season after debuting last fall at DFW, this collection is a significant step away from the niceties of the previous season. While still keeping the iconic energy of the 90’s, and Cher from Clueless, this season pushed the bounds to be more rough around the edges.

If last season could be likened to the sought-after edgy nature of famous ginger Hallie Parker in The Parent Trap, then this season can be likened to the the rebellious, entoxicating Lindsay Lohan of Freaky Friday. 

The rebellion of the collection was stunning and incited a tension that excited the audience to be on the edge of their seats during the show. Manning was ready to push herself in this collection and reach new heights in her artistry with this collection, throwing aside the need to conform and please all, and instead hoping to create questions from the audience to find the people who truly connected with the angsty energy, and darkness of the line. 

The show featured music that bolstered the chaotic energy and an “I don’t care” attitude. Surprising colors appeared throughout the show, with yellow and blue paired together, and bright pink. Accessories included pencils in model’s hair, tall athletic socks with kicks, colored sunglasses, cowboy boots, berets, and even a marching band hat. The standout look was a sweatshirt underneath a strapless formal dress, with a high slit that showed fishnet stocking underneath.

Manning has created a brand to lead the young with the infectious energy of doing whatever you want in fashion. Pushing people of all generations to wear what they want and push the bounds of what’s acceptable, TheDenverGinger didn’t disappoint and has left us wondering which redhead her collection will take after next.


Designer Rachel Hazlewood has been in the fashion space for three years since being invited to participate in an upcycling challenge. Hazlewood enjoys the realm of creativity that comes from designing clothing, and this season brought a whole new facet to her artistry with Hyacinth. The theme for the collection was from the ashes. With a grunge glam feel, the brand strayed from bright colors of last season but kept the iconic glitter within all the looks. This collection was a creative outlet for a year of a lot of change for Hazlewood and turning something dark into something beautiful.

Inspired by movement and beads, Hazlewood incorporated a dancer to open the show to set the passionate mood, performing to a violin edit or “Toxic” by Britney Spears.

Looks were black and monochromatic, with sheer textures, sequins, and sparkles, and featured some asymmetrical pieces. Multi-textured pieces continued to appear creating a visually engaging and interesting lineup of looks. Hazlewood’s designs can be described as intricate in artwork and multi-dimensional, with each look having more to discover about it as you take it in. 

Earthly Threads

Faith Friend, designer of Earthly Threads showed her newest collection, ‘”Conscious and Colorful” for her debut at Denver Fashion Week. Friend gained inspiration from the women in her life while creating this collection. Having crafted a gender-neutral style, she created hand embroidered and tie dyed pieces from second-hand materials. Her line included 42 items. Friend hoped for the audience to feel empowered by the ‘funkiness’ and boldness of her items, and embolden others to express themselves.

Friend was most excited to show off mediums — hand embroidery and tie dye. Showing multiple looks with gorgeous patchwork, the line has a cottagecore garden fairy vibe with butterflies. Earthly Threads had mid-sized model representation in their collection.

The ‘Conscious and Colorful’ collection delivered with earthy colors, tie dyed elements, jean embellishment, and designs that showed pops of skin. With exaggerated sleeves and a mix and matching of fabrics, patterns, and textures, the line gave the audience a lot to notice and discover within the looks. A stand out ensemble featured a long cape with rainbow button work that was truly beautiful. The models interacted with each other on the runway and gave a humble, carefree attitude. Makeup with fun and and colorful, with aspects of florals and butterflies.

Factory Fashion

Designer Skye Barker Maa has shown five times at Denver Fashion Week, and birds heavily influenced the Factory Fashion collection. Maa hoped that the audience would connect with sustainable fashion looking couture and ‘real’, and that people would understand how much is out there to upcycle and recycle in fashion. The collection showcased a southwestern and bohemian vibe. She was inspired by the creativity of design and the limitations of creativity. Citing there were a good amount of obstacles to overcome, the collection showed perseverance in creating a truly stunning collection.

All models had intricate, gorgeous hairstyles and were accessorized with large earrings and tassels. Creativity reigned in this collection, with full movement found in ruffles, sheer overlays, and full skirts. A recurring theme was a white, distressed overlay found on several designs. Drama was encouraged with the tassels, feathers, beads. Some models had feathers as a part of their makeup as well. With the influence of birds, Barker Maa leaned into the theme and created bird families, and blending families. 

Valerian Projects

Designer Rachel Hough has been creating clothes for herself for years — beginning with festival skirts. With the birth of Valerian Projects, Hough expanded into more than just skirts and was excited to explore her artistry. Showing for the first time at Denver Fashion Week, Hough won the Emerging Designer Challenge. 

Hough hopes that those who see her collection understand that sustainability is about grabbing fabric that you don’t use and then making something with it. She was most excited to design menswear and showcase pants and zippers. The name Valerian Projects is inspired by Game of Thrones and seeks to show ‘warrior princess’ vibes.

In the name of sustainability, Hough is still working off fabric she gleaned from Facebook Marketplace years ago — and has been intentional to not purchase new fabric until it’s gone. This shows Hough’s visionary abilities to continue to create new and interesting pieces with fabric she’s seen over and over again in her studio. 

Valerian Project’s debut runway show incorporated jean tassels and sheer fabric, gorgeous beadwork, belt tops, and corsets. The collection was consistent in showing surprising and interesting features, including a sparkle tassel umbrella that was paired with a patchwork asymmetrical dress. Several pieces had asymmetrical looks and carpet tassels. 

Canyon Couture

Designer Sara Bartlett showed an incredible collection at her first fashion show last night. Her newest collection from Canyon Couture titled, “UNPROFESSIONAL” was about escaping the box that corporate culture puts you in. Being rebellious against the 9-5, “UNPROFESSIONAL” is a way to live your best life, and break out of toxic work culture with your clothes. 

Every piece of Canyon Couture is made out of recycled material and heavy emphasis on work ties and old work attire. Creating the full line was a welcome challenge to Bartlett, stepping outside her usual work of creating one-off pieces. She enjoyed creating the looks for each model’s body and did feature a plus sized and mid sized representation in her model lineup.

Starting strong, the opening model wore long flowy pants made of reused ties. Blazer dresses and jeans paired with ties were a staple to the lineup. A stand out look was a long plaid vest with intentional patchwork, and a sleeveless tan button up blazer dress, layered with puffy white sleeves. The collection featured all outfits wearing striped red and blue socks with recyclable sneakers, provided by the sustainable company, Thousand Fell. The models were full of character, with even one model walking the runway with a phone from the 90’s and talking on the phone.

Photos by Weston Mosburg

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