Denver fashion maven Brandi Shigley is all bounce and determination; even when she cries (yes, even the most cheerful people lose it once in awhile amid the trials of entrepreneurship: After vandals broke a window at Shigley's Fashion Denver boutique and headquarters last week, Brandi admits that there were tears), there's something hopeful and right and about it, like at the end of a movie when the protagonist heads out into the sunset.
And she's chosen her motto -- "Do what you love, love what you do" -- for a reason: It's a message she emits nonstop to all who seek her skills as a promoter and cheerleader for local designers and fashion artisans. It's also the name of the formal pep talk she gives periodically at Fashion Denver and other fashionista hot-spots; an inspirational message inspired by her own story of a young girl who decided to make and market her own line of handbags and who eventually morphed into what and who she is today: a mentor to clients trying to make it in an entrepreneurial world. To that end, she showcases many unique clothing, jewelry and accessory lines, both at Fashion Denver and at quarterly fashion markets (such as last weekend's Vixen holiday market at the Grant-Humphreys mansion). In Denver, Brandi is the local designer's best friend.
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In the coming year, Brandi expects to continue towing the the line in an upward motion: In the boutique she hopes to keep evolving, depending on the staples while trying new things. "I want designers to have a home, a place where they can put themselves out there without having to do everything themselves," Brandi says. "And I want to take our designers to the next level by focusing on business development through agencies like the Denver Design Incubator. I love spreading the word about them." By the next level, she means to lead clients beyond the world of piecework and into the realm of line production, and Brandi thinks more than a few of our local designers have the chops to do it. Right now, the boutique is decked and and still Christmas-ready, with items both gift-worthy or begging to worn for a holiday night on the town: Some of Brandi's many favorites include the sexiest lingerie ever (fetching, youthful and modern sweet nothings by Young Blood Couture that channel the trendy, from burlesquey touches to pure plaid), Lily Bell's adorable sparkly holiday head gear, bags from So Whimsy, plumped-up knit caps by Sarah Brist, whimsical reversible aprons by Gnarls Zombie and so much more. It isn't unusual for Brandi to throw on something sweet from the boutique, but today she's wearing an outfit by in-house French designer (and Shigley's roomie) Raf LoBello: a brown babydoll blouse topped with a fitted shrug vest and worn over skinny jeans and brown buccaneer boots. What does she like about it, other than it looks incredibly comfortable, not to mention cute? "I like his construction and the attention to details," she says, showing me the vest's neatly tailored, body-hugging seams. "I love it -- it's totally my style, really comfortable and I can wear it with my favorite leggings. And it's nice to wear something that was custom-made just for you." In general, Brandi dresses according to her mood. "Just be you, don't put on a front: Just two weeks ago, all I was wearing was boyfriend shirts with leggings and sneakers," she explains. "Or I might start with one little piece, usually a stocking cap.... On other days, I'll pick a cute fun outfit, when I think, 'I need to kick ass today,' and it makes me feel motivated, like a woman on the go. And I love dressing up, and I love wearing short things, because I like my legs. When I was little, everyone teased me about my legs because they were like toothpicks. But now I've grown into them." Outside of the boutique, she shops at thrift stores, the Buffalo Exchange and Rainbow in the Broadway Market Place (where she once bought five identical pairs of the brown buccaneer boots she's wearing today) and that's about it. But when you've got so much to choose from in your own back yard, why go anywhere else? We, then, recommend you shop at Fashion Denver like Brandi does, while the holiday shopping is still hot: Tonight's Fashion Denver Holiday Party, 6 to 9 p.m. at the boutique, 1070 Bannock Street, includes eggnog, goodies and an opportunity to meet-and-greet the designers and shop, shop, shop. It's free; call 720-974-2200.