Crystal Lee avoided the curse of beige nylons by creating Block Party
Crystal Lee is a fashion designer, seamstress, stylist and all-around bad ass. Shunning the corporate world in order to follow her passion -- and avoid beige nylons -- she is pursuing her love of fashion as a student at the Art Institute of Colorado. Her line of super-easy, fly and breezy clothing will make its debut this Sunday at Beta. Since Crystal Lee's Block Party will also mark the launch of CRLeedesigns.com, Lee is pulling out all the stops for a sunset runway show like nothing Denver has seen before, featuring hairstyling by Ed Gillespie, a photography collaboration with Rosco Guerrero, and a cameo from hometown hero Bo Scaife of the Broncos. Crystal Lee designed, crafted and poured her blood, sweat and tears into each outfit.
We caught up with the visionary to get the details on her fashion world:
Westword: You've said you want the runway and event to showcase your personality and perspective as a designer. Talk about the idea to launch Block Party.
Crystal Lee: Originally when I came up with the idea, I wanted to do a show that displays my personality and my perspective as a designer and introduce people to my aesthetic, which is easy and breezy and fun. I like to get together with people and have fun so the decision to call it Block Party was easy. Obviously, the theme is color blocking, which is hot this season. I like to create things that are easy to wear for everyone. My models are all ethnicities and body types. I wanted to bring something totally new to Denver. What you won't see from me as a designer is a Lady Gaga meat dress. I don't try to create the next bubble jacket or whatever is hot at the moment. It's important for me to show my aesthetic, which is incredible fabrics, creating silhouettes and clothes you can wear at multiple kinds of events. How are trends chosen? Whether it be color-blocking, bell-bottoms, or otherwise? Corny enough, what I learned in a lot of fashion history classes is that different trends come back every 35 to 40 years. The next trend that you'll see after color blocking is Aztec, tribal prints and different interpretations of that style. You'll typically see things on the runway in Europe first. Color blocking was huge in the '80s. People are taking that spin and not using just primary colors but incorporating more sherbet tones as well.
Who are the models you're featuring for the runway portion of the show? Two of my models are my cousins from Phoenix but all the other girls are from here, and are girls that I know. That's who I want to design for: the average girls who are fashionable and like to have fun on any average day. Girls who like to dress up or even keep it casual, fun and chic.
More than just a fashion show, there will be design services, tailoring, image-consulting and more at Beta this weekend. What should we expect? Yes, it's about the whole experience. Tthere might be a girl who hands you a sherbet-colored Popsicle, there will be someone doing manicures. We want you to get the full experience of a fashion show, not just sit down and wait. It's a nostalgic block party theme so everything will be centered on that.
The fashion world seems complicated to those not fully immersed. What should we understand about the concepts for CRLeedesigns.com? The main reason why I started to do this is I felt like people were missing the fine details in fashion. If you keep things simple and pay attention to small details, you can create something wonderful. Not only am I presenting fun and easy stuff to wear, but I pay attention to the little details. I also don't just design for myself. I can't fit all of the clothes that I make, but I know how to tailor something that's perfect for someone's body type. This is the debut of the Block Party line and the launch of your website featuring all of your clothes. Can you believe it's almost here? I've really had so many good people backing me, and that means so much. Jevon Kearse is flying out to support the show and model in the show. Even Beta nightclub believing in me and the vision because they know how hard I've worked on this, it really means a lot. Block Party begins at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, and will feature a sunset runway walk. The event is open to the public and the cost is $10.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.