303 Magazine Upcycling Fashion Challenge


Hosted by Void Studios, an upcycling challenge on Saturday, May 14 featured five stylists and a range of stunning runway-bound looks. Over 50 models walked the runway wearing carefully selected pieces that were salvaged, recycled and assembled to make a statement.

Upcycling, a relatively new phenomenon, takes something that already exists and uses the blueprint of the item or part to design an improved version. According to UpcycleThat.com, upcycling is “youit’s about taking something that is no longer in use and giving it a second life and a new function. By doing so, the finished product often becomes more practical, valuable and beautiful than it was before.

In the fashion industry in particular, Upcycling is a great way to avoid waste and refurbish clothes that are no longer fashionable or “trendy”. Rather than throwing away or giving away the piece, upcycling can give clothes new life. The beauty of the process is that anyone can recycle clothes from their wardrobe. However, designers are also embracing this practice to prioritize durability and take advantage of materials and parts that already exist.

So, attendance at this show was strong due to the interesting nature of upcycling and its popularity in sustainability-focused fashion industries like Denver. Spirits were high as audience members mingled in the studio ahead of the show. Although the night itself was quite warm due to the lack of air conditioning in the space, a little sweat didn’t stop Denver’s fashion community from coming together to celebrate local designers and stylists. The open bar was also a fabulous touch.

The show began with a few words from local stylist and artist Quana Madison. This was followed by a collection from Lauren Walker, a familiar face to many in Denver’s fashion community. Although this is Walker’s first runway show, she is an experienced model who has walked a plethora of runways in Denver.

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Walker’s collection was sleek and sexy. In true upcycling style, each look was created by layering fabrics to create dimension. From silk to satin to velvet, the materials used in each look accentuated the collection and formed an elegant whole. As the models walked the runway, they interacted with each other. It was almost as if they were flirting with each other, which enhanced the look and contributed to the alluring collection.

Madison then presented her collection with colorful and artistic looks. It’s clear how much work has gone into this collection by the beauty and craftsmanship of each piece. With splatter painted textures and symbols on blazers, dresses and more, this collection bridged the gap between art and fashion in a unique and captivating way. The looks were abstract, yet sleek, funky and stylish.

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Before the show, Madison sat down with each of her models to learn their stories. It was the first time that a majority of her models walked the catwalk. As a result, she chose to design each look based on the person wearing it.

“It feels good to uplift and give them an opportunity to feel good,” Madison said. “Every person is truly a masterpiece of art simply by being who they are. [We’re all] living works of art.

After a brief intermission, Davry Ratcliffe, stylist and owner of Twiga G Styles, presented a lively collection that caused a stir. Accessories were the focal point that took each look to the next level. The models wore sparkly socks, elaborate beaded jewelry and even a necklace adorned with shark teeth.

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When you think of true vintage fashion, these looks are the image that comes to mind. By mixing prints and patterns, Ratcliffe brought the essence of upcycling fashion to Void Studios. It has proven that transforming a garment elevates its appeal and creates a totally different fashion statement. Along with the energy of this collection, the models’ colorful looks and sassy attitudes created a terrific segment, leaving audience members feeling inspired.

Kimberly Rayfield, Director of Rags Consignments, has brought a phenomenal collection that is cohesive and full of energy. A model and model walked together for each look with matching pieces. The intention behind each look was incredible, with specific color combinations, accessories and textures that took the audience on a journey through the ages with a touch of upcycling and vintage fashion. From bright neons to intricate patches on jackets and blazers, this collection was both groovy and stunning.

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After Rayfield’s debut at Denver Fashion Week last season, it’s clear she’s making a name for herself as a talented stylist and designer on the Denver fashion scene.

READ: Sustainable fashion fuels individual style, what you missed on Night 6 at Denver Fashion Week

Matilda Marginal, Denver-based designer and owner of the MARGINAL brand, closed the show with an exciting collection. Marginal is known for creating looks that are more than fashion. They make a statement on social issues or societal issues that concern both the fashion industry and everyday life. MARGINAL designs tell a story and let the audience question the premises of the looks in order to develop their own interpretations of the pieces.

READ: MARGINAL links fashion to social topics in an upcoming Denver Fashion Week segment

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The collection featured plain black dresses with human organs attached to their respective places. What appeared to have been created with pantyhose, the anatomy of the human body was on display. From lungs to testicles to esophagus and more, each model carried a different organ. With natural hair and makeup, the models paraded barefoot and with impassive faces, in an almost lifeless trance. The looks illustrated both the inner beauty of the models as well as the inner beauty of the human body.

Through intricate and abstract designs, Marginal is known for making a statement that leaves room for audiences to interpret. In this case, recycled pieces defined the idea that fashion is much more than what can be seen from the outside.

Marginal’s perspective on fashion plays a defining role in Denver’s fashion community as her runway collections tell a story. Not only do they have an impact on the public, but they share a message much broader than fashion. The creativity and intent behind MARGINAL is a force to be reckoned with, making it a privilege to experience Marginal’s growth as a designer right here in Denver.

READ: Celebrating local fashion in a transformative runway setting – What you missed at Denver Fashion Week Night 4

Overall, this show introduced upcycling to the catwalk in a significant way. With five incredibly different and unique collections, audiences were immersed in the process of upcycling fashion pieces. Additionally, each collection featured exquisite hairstyles and makeup that tied the whole show together.

All photographs by Roxanna Carrasco.


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