Francis Roces on the Apocalyptic Ball, breaking your own rules and finding a groove
Editor's note: Longtime Denver fashion designer Francis Roces, whose brand name is KimonoDragons, is half of 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 latest post follows.
Apocalyptic Ball 4: The Awakening is just around the corner, and I am in the process of finishing a new collection I'm creating exclusively for it. I have about seven male models and ten female models, a total of seventeen.
Apocalyptic Ball is a yearly fundraiser for AIDS Walk Colorado and the Colorado AIDS Project. The theme of this year's ball is "Awakening." When I was contacted to show my designs in the fashion show, I was given the choice of being in the "Light Section" or the "Dark Section."
I always gravitate toward dark colors. So I wanted to do something different and still stay true to the KimonoDragons brand -- I opted to show in the Light Section, and my idea was to do a Madonna '80s-inspired theme. For the overall look, I wanted a layered look with a mix of prints, textures and colors, which is what I remember and loved about the '80s.
For the women's designs, I went with leggings paired with the "Warp Dress" (see picture), lace tops and kimono-style tops. I realized I needed to do something for the male models that would convey the Madonna theme and also be consistent with the women's looks. I drew basic sketches of the women's designs and used that to decide what the men should look like. For the men, I created cropped hoodies, T-shirts and long shorts.
All fabrics I'm using for this collection came from my existing fabric inventory -- I have not bought any new fabrics. That is a challenge in itself. Surprisingly, I was able to find stretch fabrics in bright colors outside of my comfort zone and luckily, those fabrics had enough yardage.
Then came the cutting and sewing of all the garments and making sure that I have all the details completed. I am in the process of trying to break my habit of doing short cuts. I have learned in the past that it doesn't complete my vision if I take them. For this collection, I believe that I have achieved this goal, and the big test will be when I do the final fittings.
The show came with other challenges -- namely, that I was required to find my own models, contact them and work closely with the hairstylist and the makeup artist. When I contacted the models, I requested that they submit headshots promptly, and I gave them the date and time of the rehearsal and the actual show. I informed them that since this is a fundraiser, there is no compensation for their time. I gave them the option of bowing out. I try to be open and up front with models, as I know that it's fair to be paid if at all possible.
I also realized that given all these details, time management is a major part of making this event successful, and I have to stay on top of everything! Trying to find balance between what I want to do and what needs to get done is one of my biggest challenges. The past few weeks, I have not only been working on Apocalyptic Ball, but also custom designs for my clients.
It's been hot this summer, and I have found that I work better in the morning when it is a little cooler. I start getting distracted mid-afternoon, as it gets hotter and the day goes longer. I find my focus again in the late afternoon, when the sun starts going down. I know that I am going to have to rethink my schedule when winter comes around.
I have accepted I am getting older, and my life is changing. How I have done things in the past does not work currently. I have faith that I am flexible enough to adjust to the trials presented before me and to accept the benefits that come my way. I love what I am doing now, and I am open to what is ahead.
-- Francis Roces, July 11, 2013
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