By Peyton Garcia
As Coloradans spent the past year navigating Safer-at-Home mandates and working from home, blazers were closeted, dresses abandoned and sweatpants promoted to the top of the drawer. Well, for most of us, that is.
“If I’m walking a block to get pizza, I’m putting on my red stilettos,” said Brandi Shigley, founder of Fashion Denver, a consulting agency.
Denver’s fashion scene has carved a spot for itself among the style destinations across the country over the past decade, thanks in no small part to Shigley’s efforts and passion. Through Fashion Denver, this Metropolitan State University of Denver alumna lifts up local designers and fashion artists. But as with industries everywhere, Covid-19 brought Shigley’s work to a halting stop.
“It’s been hard,” she said. “I haven’t seen any of my local designer friends for months, all of our events got canceled, and there were no fashion shows all last year.”
If not for maskmaking and custom orders, many of the local design brands and boutiques may not have survived the pandemic mandates. Most designers have had to adapt their skills and seek digital methods of sale. But Shigley, in her ever-positive frame of mind, sees this as just another opportunity to grow.
“I feel like a lot of designers took this time to reevaluate their business and business models,” she said. “The industry is changing and becoming more innovative in how we produce fashion. I’m excited to see how 2021 allows us to reemerge back into this world.”
See for yourself what our local fashion icons are wearing in the pandemic era and hear what they have to say about transitioning Denver’s fashion scene beyond Covid.
A self-described skate punk and environmentalist, Deb Henriksen created a line of skateboard-inspired streetwear that’s completely sustainable. “Covid-19 has made me pivot my skills to the essential work of maskmaking, and it’s also put to good use my background in environmental health,” Henriksen said of how the pandemic has impacted her business.
The Look: An Equilibrium organic hemp mask with a filter pocket paired with a best-selling Equilibrium graphic T-shirt that reads, "Science does not care what you think.” The denim jacket boasts Henriksen’s hand-added buttons and patches that she affectionately refers to as her “life story.”
Founder, Gino Velardi Custom Designs
This Colorado native and Denver fashion pioneer first hit the scene 20 years ago and has owned runway shows. “Gino (Velardi) was the very first high-fashion runway show I’d ever been to – this was back in, like, 2002,” said Shigley, who emceed his last show before the pandemic. “Every show that he’s ever done is gorgeous. It’s something you’d expect to see in New York City. They’re always jaw-dropping.” Velardi thinks the pandemic is pushing the fashion industry, especially runway shows, in a more digital direction. “Covid shook things up for the fashion industry, but I think it’s taking us to a newer, smarter way of doing things,” he said.
The Look: Gino Velardi original coat and scarf to complete his take on quarantine comfort.
Owner, The Wedding Seamstress
Covid-19 forced couples around the state to postpone or cancel their weddings, and Deedee Vicory-Corn witnessed a time-honored tradition come to a confusing halt. “Covid was a huge scare in the wedding world,” she said. “We were not legally allowed to be open, and it was the first time I didn’t have answers for brides.” When asked if she’s anxious over the future of her industry, Vicory-Corn said: “Love is creative, isn’t it? When you find love, especially when it’s the person of your dreams, you get creative.”
The Look: A specialty bridal mask of her design from her collection of bridal masks created to wear with a matching wedding dress, paired with her go-to quarantine-comfort blazer.
Located just behind the Denver Art Museum, Mona Lucero’s shop was rocked not just by Covid but also by the protests for racial justice that erupted around the state Capitol last summer. The past year, she said, has been “just devastating” for the local fashion industry. How does she cope with it all? Getting dressed up every single day. “I’m trying to inspire people to do that because if we don’t try to put together something beautiful, then what are we doing? We have to have some joy and quality of life, and fashion brings that,” Lucero said. Shigley, who said she has long been inspired by Lucero’s work, agreed: “If you’re walking around in sweats all the time, you’re going to feel like you don’t want to put any effort in,” Shigley said. “Mona’s not just a designer; her whole energy is creation.”
The Look: Several Mona Lucero originals, including her black circle skirt with a tulle underlayer, patterned poncho, serape and mask.
Owner, The Space Brigade
A singer, songwriter and entrepreneur, Danny Yuan is a familiar face within the Fashion Denver crowd. Known by his stage name Danny Fantastic, Yuan not only regularly performs at Denver fashion events alongside Shigley but brings his sense of style to the city. “His blazers are his signature piece,” Shigley said. The duo co-hosted a podcast in 2019 in which they discussed all things fashion, music and Denver. “Covid has been challenging, but I always see the excitement and opportunity in times of difficulties,” Yuan said. “For instance, this is the perfect time to sit down and finish writing that album I’ve been working on.”
The Look: His Trusty Fender Stratocaster and a fantastic floral blazer from his local thrift shop. Follow @DannyFantastic on Instagram to see his next Denver performance.
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