With grace and effortlessness, they glided down the catwalk. The cameras flashed; the audience erupted. They strutted down the runway and posed, dressed from head to toe in designs made entirely of paper. I was in awe.
Graphic artists and fashion designers teamed up for the 10th Annual ADCD Paper Fashion Show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The Paper Fashion Show is the largest such event in the world. My good friend and fellow graphic designer, Alex, scored a pair of VIP tickets and generously gifted them to myself and his girlfriend to celebrate my birthday. As a graphic designer, I thought it was the perfect way to celebrate and be inspired. The unique show draws in 1,000 attendees each year, including graphic designers, writers, photographers and some of Denver’s best dressed. Proceeds from the event benefit the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA), which provides art education programs for at risk youth.
We started the night out with a few cocktails and perused the vendor stations. My big score of the night was a new sketch book. As I sipped my dirty-martini, I really tried to take in the atmosphere. When it was time to be seated before the show, I realized that even the backdrop behind the runway was made entirely of paper. The whole set-up took my breath away.
Each of the 42 submissions were stunning. The rules stipulate that the outfits must be created using a minimum of 90% paper. It was absolutely incredible to see how the designers were able to craft such beautiful “clothing” out of paper.
If you have ever been to a fashion show, or enjoyed a pre-awards show red carpet viewing on television, this event was a lot like that. Only the models weren’t wearing Dolce & Gabbana vesor the Antonio Berardi skirted rocked by the likes of Scarlett Johanssen. Instead, the MC’s would have us know that model Sarah Schriver was dressed in a Barry Brown Creative design called “Spirit of the Golden Wind” using paper from the Neenah Classic Crest book. For those of you with a passion for fashion, paper swatch books are our graphic design equivalent of your textile patterns and prints. Many of the models were dressed in Neenah or Mohawk papers. Spirit of the Golden Wind won the award for “That’s Made of Paper!?”
My favorite design of the evening was titled “Tanis,” and it was amazing beyond belief. Featuring an intricate featherlike train in the back and a scale-like appearance, this design included retractable wings that nxtModel Jordan Chappell could expand at will. She did so with precision timing, producing a mass eruption of oohs, aahs, cheering and clapping from the crowd. Designed by Team Attor Wyvern (Michell Van Hoesen, Merissa Osborne, Jordan Chappell), Tanis was inspired by poisonous dragons and serpents. Constructed using Neenah Stardream, this design won the award for best “Over-the-Top Accessory.”
There was such a variety in the types of designs that it was impossible to take your eyes off the runway. The winner of the “Just for Giggles” category was a traditional German-inspired piece called a dirndl. Dubbed “Rainy Night” and designed using the Mohawk LOOP book, the Octoberfest get-up was a fan favorite. Students of the DAVA program were included on the judging panel. The DAVA award was given to A-Bomb, a brilliant design featuring vibrant colors from the Mohawk Carnival book, designed by Team PinkShag. The award for “Star Student” went to a piece titled, “The Nutcracker Ballet.” This was a two-model submission featuring 16-year old Lisa Pereskokova and 6-year old Juliana Brettillo. Created by Team Escape from the New Journey Movement, it was one of the most adorable submissions of the night. The Nutcracker submission was created using CTI Aspire Petallics Glama & Glama Natural Translucent Papers. The Final award of the night was given HighBridge Creative and model Erica Prather. Created using Mohawk Strathmore Premium and Google Glass, this futuristic design titled “Kida” was the winner of the X-Factor award.
Six of the forty-two designs won awards, but they were all praise-worthy. There was a male model in a design inspired by old-school aviation featuring wings made of paper. At least two models featured designs inspired by Native American culture. One model was dressed as a bride. There was a young girl clad in full-on skull make-up and her presence and poise on the runway was remarkable in a way that you would expect from a veteran model. Paper accessories were in abundance as well: paper purses, a paper harp, paper hats, masks and capes, a paper cane, a spiky paper hat, paper wings, paper flowers and my favorite: a giant paper fan.
While I could talk all day about the amazing designs, I would rather let you see for yourself. 303 Magazine has some amazing photos available.
If you have the opportunity to attend next year’s Paper Fashion Show, I strongly recommend it. The event is a fantastic combination of artistic creation by the fashion & graphic design worlds.