Over the past eight years, Frost: Fashion Denver's Holiday Market has established itself as more than a gathering place for local vendors: It's also it's a hot spot for designers looking to connect with stylish buyers. In fact, the marketplace -- going down this Sunday, December 16, at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion in Denver -- has proved so popular that it's been expanded this year to include 31 designers.
Westword caught up with five of the independent creators to find out what they'll be bringing to this weekend's bazaar.
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MKaltenbach Presenting simple but bold jewelry is what MKaltenbach does best, and designer/brand owner Megan Kaltenbach brings a wealth of experience to the pieces she creates. But that experience isn't from a jeweler's angle; while working as a model and stylist in New York City, Kalten began crafting her own jewelry for fashion shoots. She soon was immersed in the work and found her way back to Colorado, where she now bases all of her operations.
"Everything is handpicked, nothing is bought in bulk," says Kaltenbach. Because her pieces are truly one-of-a-kind, being located in Colorado is key to finding the best materials -- and inspiration. Her necklaces start at $80, and Kaltenbach says she will also be bringing some bracelets to the market, a newer addition to her brand. For more information on the hand-crafted jewelery of MKaltenbach, visit the brand's website.
50 Dresses Local designer Tess Vigil started with a basic goal: to make fifty dresses in her basement. "I wanted to be an expert dressmaker and I wanted to create styles that were flattering for all body types," she explains. After she reached her fifty-dress mark, though, she kept going -- and the result was 50 Dresses, her own company.
With no formal design training, the then-schoolteacher began the fifty-dress project in 2010 in Los Angeles, where she was also taking pattern-making and sewing classes. She interned for a small apparel company there before coming back to her home state to apply what she learned.
At Sunday's market, Vigil will be showing and selling solid color and print scarves, a new edition to her line, as well as some of the dresses that have walked local runways. Scarves cost $48; dresses run form $60 to $128. For more on 50 Dresses, visit the brand's website. Mama Mahoney Creations Who knows the correct specs for a functional purse more than a mom? Janice Mahoney, the woman who give birth to Mama Mahoney Creations, figured this out when she made her first bag. A gift for a friend with four kids, Mahoney put her expert sewing skills to use and created a giant, one-of-a-kind tote with pockets in all the right places -- and requests started rolling in.
A business was born, and Mahoney began cranking out made-to-order bags. "I'm a perfectionist and I don't like using cheap material," she explains. And it shows in her work. Customers pick out the fabric, bag size, number of pockets and type of closure they want on their bag -- which is washable, and fortified with a heavier quilt batting that stands up to purse wear and tear. Embroidered names and phrases are also an option.
Though the majority of her business comes from custom orders, Mahoney says a marketplace like Frost gives her an opportunity to show and sell her smaller pieces -- like the genius "wristlet" design. A functional take on the clutch, the bags hang from the wrist and are big enough hold cards, keys and more.
Mama Mahoney Creations' ready-made pieces will be available at the market; prices from from $9.50 up to $50. Custom orders -- Mahoney will have some of those on display -- start around $10 and go up to $100. For more information, visit the designer's website. MEANt Clothing Inspiration can come from unexpected places. For Talia Sandoval, artist and co-owner of MEANt Clothing, it was a piece of found art, a simple paper crane. Inside that crane was a quote, one that spoke to the idea of creating beauty that moves. From there, Sandoval began making art though clothing -- hoodies decorated in vibrant colors, hats embroidered with paint splashes, patterned leggings and loose-fitting T-shirts.
Along with her business partner, Lauren Kettle, Sandoval creates uniquely patterned clothing that's meant for movement; before selling online and in local boutiques, Sandoval could be found hawking MEANt's designs at concerts. "It's a little luxury, a little classic, a little street," says the designer of the brand's aesthetic.
From infinity scarves and men's T-shirts to headbands and the brand's signature "whomper" -- a sleek tank-dress in multiple colors and pattern variations -- MEANt has something for everyone. At this weekend's market, MEANt will be selling bracelets beginning at $12, with hoodies that go up to $120. For more information or to see the brand's futuristic designs, visit the clothing line's website.
Bustle Packs The Bustle Pack's truly unique design takes the purse to the next level as a wearable accessory. In what creator Lillian Kafka aptly describes as an "1880s throwback," the functional piece becomes as integral to the wearer's outfit as pants or a shirt. The hip-slung design with accentuated ruffles simultaneously blends into an ensemble while standing out, all while hiding pockets for use as a purse.
"It's blurring the lines between your outfit and your utility," explains Kafka. Designed for her own use as a purse alternative for a trip to the Burning Man festival, Kafka was soon fielding orders for Bustle Packs. Now available through her website and in several Denver shops, the brightly colored, strongly stitched zipper bags are getting some serious attention.
In the coming year, Kafka hopes to expand into the realm of sustainability, and she'll start by showing some pieces made from reclaimed vintage fabric at this weekend's market. All Bustle Packs retail for $65; for more information of Kafka's eye-catching designs, visit her website.
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