Denver’s fashion scene continues to blossom, and nothing makes that growth more evident than the local designers who showed their Spring/Summer 2022 collections from April 3 to 10 at Denver Fashion Week. For the first time since it was founded in 2018 (originally as Denver Fashion Weekend), the event included a full seven nights of sold-out fashion shows at two locations: South Broadway’s Void Studios and the Forney Museum of Transportation in Five Points. The resulting runway extravaganza gave us plenty of ideas for refreshing our closets as spring—a notoriously tricky season for dressing up in Colorado (hello, layers)—arrives. Here’s some of our favorites.
70s jet setter chic
Inspired by the revival of 1970s feminine flair and travel, KetiVani designer Keti McKenna is preaching the power of a timeless silhouette with functional-yet-luxury wardrobe staples that can be easily layered (think: wide-shoulder blazers, cinched dresses, and powerful pant suit). For spring, this takes a playful form in pieces like her lavender pinstripe wide-shoulder suit, a nod to the purple blossoming almond trees and retro vintage hauls from her trips to the Bay Area. McKenna—who teaches at the nonprofit education center Denver Design Incubator when she’s not creating custom designs for clients or Garbarini in Cherry Creek North—also presented more relaxed versions of her retro ethos, like handkerchief skirts and a 70s-mod cropped-turtleneck set. They pair well with a structured hat or headband, much like the ones she designed in collaboration with local milliner Victoria Regina for this line.
Fierce and Flirty Loungewear
Athleisure has been dominating the markets, so Denver-based Kanchiko designer Saylesa Nepal decided it was time for loungewear to level up. Nepal pivoted her typically cozy sweatsuit-focused brand Kanchiko to spotlight a new kind of streetwear—bodycon dresses with playful arm and side cutouts, sporty two-piece sets, and Y2K-reminiscent micro skirts and halters—comfortable enough to toss on with sneakers during the day or dress up with heels to step out at night. Nepal, who was raised in New Zealand and whose parents were from Nepal, also infused elements of her Kiwi-Nepali identity into the collection by adding details like wrap-ties and sleek angular collars inspired by the traditional Nepali Choli blouse. Select designs will be available for purchase soon at kanchiko.com
Coastal cool menswear
Colorado Springs–based designer Taylor Draper has built a reputation for constructing immaculately tailored suits through his custom menswear brand, INHERENT. Because he knows the rules so well, he’s well-equipped to show Denverites how to break them. Draper brought new, textured flair to classics like his crisp, sear-suckered white English suit; or classic navy suit with a hand-painted floral pattern from Colorado Springs artist Brett Andrus popping on the lapel and pants. To further flaut fashion mandates, he encourages adding your favorite baseball cap or crewneck, or pairing his unstructured, all-tan, Irish linen slack suit jacket with a nice pair of joggers for a sportier streetwear look. The whole collection will be available for purchase soon on inherent.com, where a portion of any purchase goes toward INHERENT’s nonprofit foundation focused on men’s mental health.
Bold, feminine silhouettes
Designer: Aversano Designs
Cora Aversano’s design motto, “more is more,” shines through in her spring collection of couture gowns. In this case, the goal was more joy. Inspired by the extravagant styles of the classic Hollywood era that embraced femininity in an elegant-yet-unabashed way, Aversano played with tons of tulle, glamorous “princess” silhouettes, feathered or ultra-high necklines, and ditched staid spring pastels for bold colorways . Select gowns from the collection will even be made available to rent or to purchase via her website this spring. Whether you’re able to snag an Aversano original or search the racks yourself, the key to turning heads at your next fundraiser gala or black-tie event is embracing billowy fabric.
Defy the norm
While local couture designer Matilda Marginal is used to creating cutting-edge custom clothing for clients out of her City Park showroom, she shifted her spring MARGINAL collection to an outright avant garde statement. her hope? Reminding people about the more important trends that lie below surface level. Moved by the ongoing crises like climate change, mental illness, and homelessness, marginally gathered all-white, recycled textiles and other unconventional items to create the gender-neutral, deconstructed garments that took the runway. The collection served as a blank canvas for audience members to reflect upon their own understandings of societal norms and the suffering that we don’t always see. While she doesn’t expect Denverites to carry their own outfits around in a frame, marginal hopes of fashion aficionados of all stripes will consider how they can express themselves outside of normal beauty standards via upcycled fabric, damaged clothing, or other things lying around the house they might otherwise scrap.