The second and final night of New Mexico Fashion Week promised six more designers: Destinista Fashions, Enlightened Designs, Guadalupe Ramirez, Monista Arts, Montecristi Custom Hat Works, and Westerngrace. During the intermission, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the lovely Gabrielle Torrez. The short interview included how I got my start in blogging, what my blog is about, and also about my unique vintage style.
The evening started out with the Santa Fe Community College student designers presenting their collections (as they did on the first night, which you can read about it HERE).
The first designer presenting was Guadalupe Ramirez. The Santa Fe Community College alum presented some pieces from his past collections and gave us a tease of his 2017 collection- “La Catrina.” Guadalupe explained to me that the aqua and red dresses were a part of his “Simple Economy Triangles” collection from 2010. “This was back in 2010, the year when the economy of USA was in jeopardy, so my inspiration was the triangle behind our American currency — behind our dollar bill — we have a triangle with an eye in the middle. So every garment I included a triangle representing our current news about the economy.” The black dress was a part of his 2011 collection- “Yin/Yan Swan,” where all the garments were in black and white. He drew his inspiration from the movie, Black Swan. “As you can see, I really get inspired from current news, movies, and history.” He presented three garments from his “La Catrina” collection, which is set to officially debut in December. That inspiration was based on La Calavera Catrina, which was a zinc sketch image of a female skeleton dressed only in an upper-class hat, by famed Mexican printmaker, cartoon illustrator and lithographer- José Guadalupe Posada.
Next up, was Monista Arts. Monista Arts was founded by Monica Duran- an artist and designer, who is battling a terminal form of cancer. Monica “feels that life is a huge canvas just waiting to create wonders and beauty. Her art tells a story about her life, and the suffering of losing hope of all the dreams she had. Monica started working nights on images that reflected how she felt or how she wished her life could be. Through revelation, God gave her this gift to share with other women who are lost and lives that have been taken by illness.” This season, she showcased lambskin clutches, handbags and clever leather ponchos with fur trim. The collection took on an essence of Native American culture, while also having a Southwest flair.
Designer Jesse “Grace” Call presented several of her western-influenced designs from her brand, Westerngrace. Westerngrace embodies the timeless spirit of the west, as well as the culture of cowboys and cowgirls. Notable garments that I enjoyed seeing walk the runway were: dresses, a jacket, and skirt with a leather tooled yoke/trim; diagonal ruffled maxi skirts; and a gingham print dress and blouse.
New Mexico Fashion Week veteran- Destini Duran of Destinista Fashions presented her signature abstract print, wearable collection. The Santa Fe Community College alum lets the designs tell the story, while allowing the fabric to be the “cover.”
Another NMFW vet, Sharidynn Denetchiley of Enlightened Designs, showcased her jewelry collection. She proudly represents the Diné (Navajo) Nation, is a notary public, contributes to political activism, and advocates on leadership committees for social justice for urban Indians in Albuquerque. Patrick “Cloudface” Burnham also collaborated with Sharidynn, by creating unique Native American mediums on the models, while complementing Denetchiley’s designs.
The last design house of the evening was Monticristi Hat Works. The Santa Fe-based hat company was founded in 1978 and has been a staple when it comes to Panama-style and fur felt hats. We were treated to a variety of styles that evening, many of which were worn by NMFW team members.
I would like to take the time to thank the New Mexico Fashion Week team, namely: Melissa, Nick, Manny and Elizabeth, for having me!
This year marked the third year of New Mexico Fashion Week. Albuquerque’s premier fashion event once again took place at the convention center, and over the course of two spectacular nights of runway shows. The founder of NMFW, Melissa Beasley, hopes to grow New Mexico’s fashion industry and help create jobs for people across the state. Again, I love that, unlike a lot of fashion weeks I’ve been to, the folks at New Mexico Fashion Week only brought in designers that were local to the state. ALSO, that the models on the runway represented different cultural backgrounds (like Navajo American Indian) and were a variety of different shapes, sizes, and ages.
Both nights were hosted by Gabrielle Torrez, who was Miss Albuquerque 2014 and Miss Bernalillo County 2015. The runway layout was different this year, as it was longer and more intimate. According to New Mexico Fashion Week, “The runway show plays out in harmony with the underlying meaning of the 2016 Pantone colors, Rose Quartz and Serenity. It exudes an essence of connection between audience and ensembles as we bring the two closer together physically with a longer, more intimate runway layout. Bringing the audience closer together with the runway will also allow everyone to feel an interweaving wellness with the garments and accessories around them, much like how the coming together of Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of peace. Pantone’s reference to the ‘gender blur’ has always been present within the fashion industry, and has been carried over into our event. New Mexico Fashion Week is a comforting, welcoming entity that embraces all genders, ages, and sizes while encouraging everyone to let their creativity flow and express it freely without judgment.”
Before the runway shows, guests were able to shop the Fashion Expo- where six designers had booths set up. That way, guests were able to meet the designer and shop as they wish. My favorite booth was Vanilla Pudding by Nikki. Nikki Delaney creates adorable retro/vintage-inspired aprons for both sexes, and children; while using unique fabrics and notions. I really like that she offers a Route 66 themed apron, available in men’s and women’s. Nikki was also a guest from the New Mexico Autism Society and 3rd Annual Project Connect Fashion Show 2015 Albuquerque Apparel Center Choice Winner.
The designer lineup for night one was: Atelier Danielle, Bossarolla, Kendra Grace Designs, Lovato Eyecare, Orlando Dugi and Penny Singer.
Before the designer presentations, we were introduced to a handful of mini-collections from student designers from Santa Fe Community College. Ebbie Edmonston’s line was inspired by many different military styles. “In the years and months leading to election day, the media encourages us to pick a side and fight for “the cause,” making many of us feel defensive of our views and beliefs. I hope my line acts as a sort of armor and a focal point to draw the conversation down a different path,” she further explained. Richard Blake’s line focused on beauty from the inside out. He wants people to be comfortable in their own skin; and a good place to start is being comfortable in your clothes. He focuses on knits that can be worn around town and as workout wear. Etagu Wondimu is from Ethiopia and likes to incorporate some of her native textiles into each garment. She is trying to help her community in Ethiopia, by purchasing handmade fabrics to use in her work. Vanessa Quintana has a passion for the pin-up girl. Her style is classic with a splash of color shown in the patterns and fabrics she uses. Lastly, Rose Wiley started by making stylish gym clothing and has moved on to a line of geometric dresses. Her line is very clean; with simple lines and calming colors that help to showcase her talent as a seamstress. (Thank you Ebbie for the additional information on the designers.)
The first designer of the evening was Penny Singer, whose designs really embrace her Native Diné (Navajo) heritage. She grew up away from the reservation, but has since spent a fair amount of time on the reservation in TecNosPos, AZ. The experiences at the reservation are woven into her work. “The thread used to sew her collection is spun with drive, determination to make people understand where she comes from, and the beauty in being Native. As a single mother, the thread pushing through the fabric is also a metaphor stitching a wonderful life for herself and her son.” Penny presented a unique mix of jackets, ribbon shirts, vests and capes that were adorned with appliqués that told somewhat of a story in her Native culture.
Bossarolla hit the runway next, the fierce strut of the models gave an enlightened energy to the audience. The Albuquerque-based designers- Alexandra Sanchez and Leandra Rosenau showcased their “Strictly Business” collection. The duo were inspired by professional business attire, but wanted to add their signature twists and details. Each garment is also customizable to the consumer’s taste.
Upcycled t-shirt dresses from Kendra Grace Designs emerged on the runway. Kendra Brock is a self-taught designer, but with a background in creating life-size figurative sculptures. One day, after “sculpting” an upcycled t-shirt dress to her curvy figure, she decided that she wanted to create handmade, wearable pieces of art for women of all shapes and sizes. Since then, she creates garments and accessories using organic fabrics digitally printed with her own photographic images, upcycled t-shirts and eco-friendly fabrics for sizes ranging from 2- 24.
Santa Fe-based Orlando Dugi launched his namesake brand in 2011 in a small 150 square foot studio. In 2013, the brand moved to a more expansive studio and has since continued making gowns and hand-beaded evening bags, and now a jewelry line. The designer’s last name of DUGI is pronounced “doo-guy” and means “mustache” in Navajo American Indian language (and his heritage). Orlando creates his masterpieces in-house and out of the highest quality fabrics and embellishments and has enlisted the help of two bead assistants and a seamstress. For NMFW2016, he presented The Red Collection. “The Red Collection is hand-dyed in natural Peruvian cochineal dye, which is derived from the female beetle and involves a lengthy and complicated process. This elaborate collection is hand-beaded and hand-embroidered in Santa Fe. It has taken six artists hundreds of hours for six months to produce this small collection of six garments…Imagine a fantastical pre-Columbian matriarchal monarchy where strong and confident women dressed in elaborate sparkling gowns differing shades of a color reserved for royalty. The designs on the garments are inspired from the flora and fauna of the southwest and a fictional golden bird. The music is composed by cellist Randall Warren for The Red Collection and resonates the beauty and elegance within The Red Collection.”
Guests were then treated to an array of the latest in eyewear trends, thanks to Lovato Eyecare– Albuquerque’s leading eye care specialists. They are a “full-service eye care practice offering ophthalmology, optometry, optical and contact lens services. Dr. Lovato, a fellowship trained, board certified ophthalmologist in Albuquerque, treats a full range of medical eye diseases and performs cataract and laser surgery. He also provides his patients with their yearly routine vision care and has been the community’s trusted resource for superior eye care service and patient satisfaction for many years. Most major vision and medical insurance plans are accepted.”
The final designer of the evening was Santa Fe-based designer Danielle Foster-Herbst of Atelier Danielle. She combines luxurious textiles with vintage kimonos, saris and lace to form her original designs. “Her silhouettes are inspired by both tailored haberdashery and ethnographic forms with couture finishes. Garments are often reversible with great attention to detail and longevity. Clients and textiles are Danielle’s muse. Danielle pursues an environmentally sound design process. Every garment is created one at a time by Danielle, and skilled local artisans are paid a living wage.”
New Mexico Fashion Week returned to Albuquerque (for the second time) for an evening of high-energy runway shows that featured local and out-of-state designers. I just happened to be passing through the city on my way back to Texas from LA and was excited to see what the event had to offer. I would also like to point out that NMFW was ahead of the “fashion week game” by celebrating models of all ages, shapes and sizes.
It was held at the convention center in Downtown and featured twelve designers: 505 Clothing, A. Tsagas Designs, Bossarolla, Debi Lynn Designs, Destinista Designs, Enlightened Designs, Kenneth Edgar, MeliDu, Monista Arts, Montecristi Custom Hats, Noir Assassin and ODELL by Kayleigh Dawn. The event was emcee’d by Miss Albuquerque 2014- Gabrielle Torres. Unfortunately, I missed the first half of the evening’s festivities (even though we hustled, it was still a long drive from California), but I was able to make the last half, as well as see the dress sculptures in the ‘Fashion as Art’ exhibit. The exhibit was also a part of a competition between students and established artists. The participants were: Dominique Cohn, Liza Doyle, Melissa Dulanto, Madeleine Toyokawa, Sara Basehart, Rhonda Crossland, Ezra Estes, Stephen Fehr and Carla Wick.
Luckily I was able to spot my favorite Cajun jewelry designer from Houston- Debi Lynn of Debi Lynn Designs, who was walking around with her models (still dressed in the collection). Her collection- titled, “Bayou Gypsy meets Cowgirl Chique,” featured fringe, repurposed clothing, appliqués, beading and more! Every piece of the collection is inspired by her Cajun and Muskogee Creek cultures. Growing up in the Louisiana bayou, she would hunt and collect little ‘treasures’ and made something with them. To this day, she has never outsourced for her jewelry and everything is one-of-a-kind. Her jewelry has been seen on Miranda Lambert, Brittany Spears, Demi Lovato and more.
K- Bobby International was the next collection to walk the runway. Jamaican-born Kenneth Edgar became a seasoned designer and dressmaker in his village by the age of 12. He showcased designs for both men and women, ranging from casual to evening wear. The collection was fun, wearable and made in the USA.
A Bossarolla is defined as “a woman who puts God first. Loves her family. Demands respect. Takes care of her business. Always real. Original. Classy. Strong. Lives her life to the fullest,” according to the brand’s two designers- Alexandra Sanchez and Leandra Rosenau. The models jammed the runway to Beyonce’s “Run This World,” rocking the brand’s swimwear and sunglasses collection. The swimwear was colorful and seemed to feature a variety of textures and fabrics. The designers also opted for bold silhouettes with girly detailing, such as sweet bows and ribbon.
Destinista Fashions designer- Destini Duran recently graduated from Santa Fe Community College with a degree in fashion design in 2014. She presented her collection “A Tower of Blue,” inspired by the Empire State Building. The collection is heavily influenced by modern abstract art and had a neutral black, white, grey color palette; with the exception of a vibrant blue. The gowns and separates were sophisticated with a hint of edginess. The clothes were paired with accessories by Monica Duran of Monista Arts & Designs. Monica holds a degree in architecture and interior design, but due to her illness, she has switched careers. In 2006, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that is terminal. But clearly, that is not slowing her down. Not only was she a bad-ass plus-size model during NMFW, but she has found success through her artwork. Monica explains (via Facebook), “I see images through contemporary eyes, both abstract and realistic. I try to convey the simplicity, elegance, grace, and spirit of my art. Light, shade, color, and texture all working together create art with eyes of Gods nature. My primary pieces of art reflect the journey and pain I have had to endure for many years. I want others to embrace my work not only as a story but through the reflection of what is inside of me.” The NMFW collection is called, “A Kiss of a Feather” and features 100% leather and Swarovski crystals. I wish Monica all the best for continued health and success!
There was definitely something “enlightening” about this next brand, aptly called- Enlightened Designs. The brand’s designer- Sharidynn Denetchiley is of Dine (Navajo) Nation descent and was originally from the Four Corners region. She launched her career sometime around 2008 and has successfully participated in many jewelry and fashion shows across New Mexico, as well as had numerous collaborations with Native American models and designers across the country. She focuses on creating contemporary Native American jewelry and strives to inspire a new generation of jewelers. This showcase featured not only the jewelry, but incredible Native American inspired body painting by Patrick “Cloudface” Burnham and several references that harked back to her Native American roots. Needless to say, the finale of the presentation was captivating. I love seeing diversity in fashion and I’m giving Sharidynn multiple thumbs up!
Denver-based A. Tsagas Designs fur and leather designer- Andreas Tsagas specializes in creating unique pieces from reclaimed and repurposed fur and leather for over 30 years now. The pieces were a perfect fit for NMFW and the Southwestern lifestyle.
Santa Fe-based Montecristi Custom Hats was the last brand to present that evening. Designer Milton Johnson has been customizing unfinished Ecuadorean hats for men and women since 1978. The company is also known for their exquisite fur felt hats, hatbands, buckle sets and hat accessories. NMFW founder- Melissa Beasley also made her ‘runway debut’ during the presentation. Monticristi has been featured in a variety of press and on numerous celebrities.
HUGE thank you to Melissa and the whole team at New Mexico Fashion Week! I look forward to hopefully attending the FULL event next year.