Leslie Horna Talks Shopping and Celebrating Fashion to Raise Funds for Denver Health

Cherry Creek North has been one of the top shopping destinations in Denver for decades -- and on Friday, September 19, it will celebrate that status with the much-anticipated CCN Celebrate Fashion Show. Leslie Horna, CCN director of marketing and communications, took time out from her packed schedule to talk about the Celebrate Fashion Show, the partnership with the Denver Health Foundation and the derided CCN construction.

See also: Kathy Bacon Bringing Fashion to the Airwaves With Fashion Forward Radio

Westword: Leslie, tell us about yourself and you landed in Cherry Creek North. Leslie: Prior to Cherry Creek North, I worked for HealthONE's healthcare corporate division office in marketing, public relations and community affairs. One of the things I enjoyed most about that role was working with community organizations, business and government officials, and the connection with members of our community. In my personal time, my passion for art, food, fitness and fashion drew me to Cherry Creek North often. Working for Cherry Creek North seemed like the perfect marriage of community, art, dining and fashion, and it has proved to be very exciting! I love that I can park once and walk everywhere for meetings, shopping, dining and even running my errands.

What is with all the construction in CCN!?

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There is construction all over Denver right now, a sign of a strong economy and jobs. These projects are necessary modernizations to existing buildings and renovations that will allow for new or expanded retail, dining and services. The City of Denver's Storm Drain and Street Paving Construction project is disruptive, though a necessary improvement so that Cherry Creek doesn't continue to flood. Many people are choosing to live in an urban area where everything is accessible. Over 1,500 new residential properties will soon be available for live, work and play in Cherry Creek North. The investments in Cherry Creek North taking place now will set us up for a vibrant future. Our best days are ahead of us!

There is definitely a different vibe happening in CCN. How is it a different shopping destination from five years ago? More shoppers today are interested in finding something creative and unique while also supporting small business. Cherry Creek North is the largest collection of independently owned businesses in the region. With the addition of larger, corporate retailers, we are able to offer the best of both worlds to our visitors. Cherry Creek Shopping District continues to be the #1 visitor destination in the state, with new retailers opening regularly -- including recent additions O2 Aspen women's fashion boutique, Polished Nail Boutique, Duke's Corner Store, City Velo bike shop and Aspen Art Gallery. Coming very soon is The Shade Store and Aspen Juice.

Service and personalization has also become more important to shoppers. We have retailers that serve as a stylist for their shoppers by pulling a rack of clothes they think the customer will need for a special event or trip and properly fitting clothes or shoes for the shopper's body type. This is a departure from the customer trying something on and the sales associate telling them it looks great just to capture the sale. HMK in Cherry Creek North, a boutique retail experience from Hallmark, will personalize gifts in-store as you watch, making that housewarming gift of a cutting board even more special by engraving your gift recipient's names and the move-in date on the board.

How is the fashion community doing in Denver? What could we improve on?

Denver is quickly gaining a national reputation for an artistic and entrepreneurial vibe. Fashion is a form of self-expression, so we're seeing more experimentation and creativity with fashion -- hether it's created locally or shoppers seek unique items from national/international designers and brands. I love fashion and am encouraged by the tremendous growth Denver has seen in recent years. With the addition of the Fashion Design Center and things like the Fashion Truck, local designers are able to make fashion more accessible to our community and strengthen the city's creative economy.

The city has seen more national brands and retailers (think Hermes, H&M or Kate Spade New York) choose to open a location in Denver -- a sign that this is the place to be! Coloradans love to work out, and that means lots of casual or athletic wear worn around the clock. I'm guilty of wearing yoga pants while running errands on a Saturday in Cherry Creek North, but don't get too comfortable. I value dressing up. I love how Europeans always look their best -- cobblestone streets and stilettos, no problem! Keep reading for more on Celebrate Fashion.

This is the second year for the Celebrate Fashion event in Cherry Creek. Why is this event important to the community?

Celebrate Fashion in Cherry Creek North is a great way to support several restaurants and fashion retailers in the district. The runway shows will feature twelve boutiques, makeup and hair salons, and food and beverages from seven Cherry Creek North culinary purveyors. Our event takes place outdoors on Fillmore Plaza, just as the sun is setting, with an 84-foot runway, lights, VIP seating...it's spectacular! Proceeds from the event benefit Denver Health Foundation, the charitable support organization for Denver Health Hospital. Those funds will be directed to women's health services to benefit women in our community.

How did you decide on the Denver Health Foundation as a partner?

Cherry Creek North sought a partner that wanted a true partnership -- an organization that shares in our stride for excellence, a commitment to community and has the resources to co-produce a high-quality event. This is our second year with DHF and they been great to work with! Thank you to [DHF CEO] Paula Herzmark and her team.

What do you have in store this year for Celebrate Fashion attendees?

Bust out of work early on Friday and get your night started with cocktails, food, music and discounts at the free in-store events, from 4 to 6 p.m. at participating locations. Then, head over to Fillmore Plaza for more delight with food and booze before the show starts at 8 p.m. The adult fashion show will showcase the best 2014 fall trends -- sparkle, lace, fur, fringe, lingerie, evening wear...there's something for everyone.

What -- or should we say who? -- will you be wearing on September 19?

My best Cherry Creek chic!

CCN Celebrate Fashion is set for Friday, September 19 at the Fillmore Plaza, with all proceeds going to the Denver Health Foundation. Tickets start at $60; to purchase them, go to Denver Health Foundation.com.

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