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Francis Roces on KimonoDragons, the thrill of the runway and needle-and-thread inspirations

Antjuan, Rachel, Thanh, Parker, Gary and Ariel in KimonoDragons at Paint the Runway.
Antjuan, Rachel, Thanh, Parker, Gary and Ariel in KimonoDragons at Paint the Runway.
Francis Roces.

Editor's note: Longtime Denver fashion designer Francis Roces, whose brand name is KimonoDragons, represents the inaugural pair of PAIR residents at Denver's Powerhaüs Studio. As part of his three-month residency, he and his fine-art counterpart Charlie Boots will be reporting from the real world via Show and Tell, as they learn the ropes from studio mentors Mona Lucero, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy and Jimmy Sellars. Roces's initial post follows.

See also: - The world according Charlie Boots: An art-scene newbie on what it takes to get noticed - 100 Colorado Creatives: Francis Roces - Powerhaus Studio announces its PAIR artist-in-residence program

Fashion designer Francis Roces of KimonoDragons.
Fashion designer Francis Roces of KimonoDragons.

Hello, my name is Francis Roces and my clothing line is KimonoDragons. I became a fashion designer because people tell me that is what I am, that is what I do. Nothing makes me happier than creating something from scratch. I always see myself as an artist, but not in the traditional way. I don't use brushes or paint; instead I use fabrics and my sewing machine.

When I see a fashion designer on TV or in the magazines, I don't feel a connection. I feel more connection to my fellow local designers than anything else -- my friends, and my equals -- as we work toward building a respected fashion industry here in Denver. I feel pride when customers ask if I sew my own garments and I say, "Yes!" I do dream of having my own work/ retail space, someday.

KimonoDragons dress in the studio.
KimonoDragons dress in the studio.

I am one lucky person. I was chosen by Mondo Guerra to be an artist-in-residence at PowerHaus Studios. I was given free studio space there for three months and I'm excited to work alongside the great Mona Lucero, one of the PowerHaus artists and a well-known designer in Denver. I also share the residency with artist Charlie Boots, who is a very talented painter and a great person to converse with.

Roces's studio space at PowerHaus.
Roces's studio space at PowerHaus.

Besides Mona, there are two other artists at PowerHaus, Jimmy Sellars and Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, who are both amazing in their own right. To be surrounded by such talent is the greatest feeling, and I'm inspired to find my own studio space after my residency is complete. I get to work here until summer's end, and I'm using my time to the best of my ability! Continue reading for more from Francis Roces.

KimonoDragons on the runway at Red Ball 2010.
KimonoDragons on the runway at Red Ball 2010.

As a designer, my fashion show calendar is marked by three events: the Apocalyptic Ball in July, Red Ball in November and the Paper Fashion Event is in March. These events are my season indicators, and I plan other events around these three main events. These are all charity fashion shows -- I show in a lot of fundraisers, and I love to do them for a good cause.

Men's vests, designed by Francis Roces.
Men's vests, designed by Francis Roces.
Antjuan and Thanh modeling menswear at Paint the Runway.
Antjuan and Thanh modeling menswear at Paint the Runway.
Robert Rice

I recently showed my designs in a fashion show called Paint the Runway. I showcased a new men's line, and it received great reviews. I found that to be very encouraging since I plan to branch out and create a new men's clothing label this fall.

Vitaminwater dress, 2011.
Vitaminwater dress, 2011.

I don't sketch out my ideas ahead of time. I work with a creative flow and I think of a saying, "Honor in Defiance," which means: Learn the rules so you know how to break them and ask why. I don't like my creativity be limited by a sketch, so I keep my design vision in my head until it is complete. After my creation is completely sewn, I draw it. Continue reading for more from Francis Roces.

Model Katie in KimonoDragons.
Model Katie in KimonoDragons.
Tory Rust

When I do fashion shows, I consider the theme of the event and current colors and trends -- not so that I will follow them, but so I know what not to do. When I share the runway with other designers, I believe they are probably going to be showing what is current. I always want to be the one that stands out, the designer that people remember.

Model Tanner in KimonoDragons.
Model Tanner in KimonoDragons.
Tory Rust

I always make sure that the overall look is consistent and cohesive. I have learned from the past that it is more important to have a finished look than to dress a model with whatever is on hand. I always remember who is sewing the garments when I am picking models for an event -- mainly me! Since I do all of the sewing, I don't want to deal with having a lot of models to dress and not enough time to sew the garments. I don't want to design just for the sake of dressing a model.

Models Tanner, Sane, Solomen and Katie in KimonoDragons.
Models Tanner, Sane, Solomen and Katie in KimonoDragons.
Tory Rust

The biggest thing I love about fashion shows is what's happening behind the scenes. I get to experience all the elements! You've got models, hair/makeup stylists, designers, assistants, DJs and production crew all flowing in hopes of creating the ultimate fashion event. Sometimes that ultimate moment is achieved and sometimes you're left holding the bag. No matter what happens, I look forward to the next event, and move on.

Red Ball 2012: KimonoDragons and Rebelle Salon.
Red Ball 2012: KimonoDragons and Rebelle Salon.

This summer I am slated to do three fashion shows: Runway for Relief on June 23 in Colorado Springs, Designers Rock on July 6 and Apocalyptic Ball 4 on July 12.

-- Francis Roces


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