Fashionably Now: Denver's Paper Fashion Show

Art is important, but what’s more important is people making art. That’s why we jumped in as title sponsor when we heard about Denver’s Paper Fashion Show.

Art is important, but what’s more important is people making art.

That’s why we jumped in as title sponsor when we heard about Denver’s Paper Fashion Show. Not just because it’s cool to see dresses made out of paper on a runway, but because a good slice of the money made goes to Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA), a transformative arts education program in Metro Denver.

DAVA students paraded their designs on the runway alongside professional Denver-based designers. Sleek, surprising, and often very intricate dresses were sourced from cultural and personal influences. The Paper Fashion Show, put on by The One Club for Creativity Denver, was a red-carpet event with a deeper purpose: supporting an arts legacy in Colorado.

Paper Fashion Show Participants
Youth fashion designers parade their work alongside professionals. All photos by Lindsey Kennedy

Meow Wolf had its own version of DAVA—and that was a city and certain individuals who took a chance on us. This was back when we were three-other-jobs, warehouse-bourn, broke artists. We know that everyone needs a chance, especially those least likely to get it. For the same reason, DAVA works with at-risk youth. They not only provide after hours training and resources (including a kiln) for artists of all kinds, but they train students in creative fields—particularly at CAL, their Computer Art Lab. This gives young artists a practical path into the professional world of the arts.

Having the right tools to imagine what you can make is the first step between thinking something is possible and making it possible. We discovered that when we had a wild dream to turn a bowling alley into a multiverse. Now that we’re headed to Denver, it’s like entering a gold mine of talent. We’re getting to riff with more and more artists and designers who are helping create our new exhibition.

We’re glad we have two years, because we’re just getting to know these folks, and our art is only getting better and better. As our outreach team connects with our peers (thank you Han Sayles, Merhia Weise, and the rest of the team), they’re also connecting with Denver neighborhoods, particularly Sun Valley, which is next door to our new Meow Wolf exhibition.

This summer, we get to work with Denver Arts and Venues as well as University of Colorado Denver art students to create a pop-up show for the super-cool Americans for the Arts Conference.

The Beautiful Paper Fashion Show Award
The Beautiful Paper Fashion Show Award.

The chance to work with artists, youth, and designers is only the beginning. We hope by the time we open our doors in 2020 that we are already a part of the communities in Denver. It feels good to start.

At Paper Fashion Show, what began as paper in a mill ended up on a runway in Denver. Not just as any dresses, but ones made by professional and youth designers in Colorado. It was surprising. And for us, surprise is what art does.

We're awed by the participants, student and professional, who collaborated and shared with their community. Here's our highlights from the Paper Fashion Show, by photographer Lindsey Kennedy: