On Thursday, January 30, Westword's second annual Whiteout will fill the McNichols Building with fashion, live music, specialty vendors and classic cocktails. We've been profiling many of the designers who will be featured in the runway show; producer and creative director Jenny Baker-Strasburg recently took a break from putting the finishing touches on the show to answer some questions.
See also: Whiteout Fashion 2014
Westword: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get into fashion?
Jenny Baker-Strasburg: I was born and raised in Denver. My dream was to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. My parents were opposed and felt a liberal arts education would be a better choice. After graduating from the University of Denver, I moved to NYC to pursue a career in fashion. I applied and interviewed for countless jobs, which was terribly daunting. Finally I was offered a marketing position with Liz Claiborne. A year later I was promoted and began managing special events, as well as the in-store marketing program for DKNY Jeans, Kenneth Cole and Laundry. Under the Liz Claiborne umbrella I had the privilege of working with Vogue,InStyle, Glamour and Self. What was the first event you ever produced?
The first event I produced, styled and commentated was at Burdines's in Miami, attended by over 200 guests. This was my first professional public speaking engagement. I was incredibly nervous thinking I might pass out before taking the stage. Thankfully I didn't, and after getting that first show under my belt I knew this is what I was meant to do. I went on to execute over ten large-scale fashion shows per season for the next five years. Additionally, I managed over 200 small, in-store events per season.
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many things -- music, art, film and travel. Particularly music and film. I adore Edith Head and greatly admire her work. Alfred Hitchcock films have been a tremendous source of inspiration: Kim Novak in Vertigo, Grace Kelly in Rear Window. I'm also consistently inspired by my mentors and peers.
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What is your take on the fashion scene in Denver? What is good, what's bad, what needs work?
The fashion industry in Denver is steadily growing. When I moved back from New York, I was surprised to find such a large talent pool. There are different organizations within the Denver fashion community that all have value. I'm starting to see these organizations come together more and more to move the industry forward as a whole. I do believe there's strength in numbers, and the more we support each other and collaborate, the more the industry will continue to flourish and grow.
Why are you looking forward to Westword's Whiteout?
I'm excited because I'm passionate about the Denver fashion community and love working with the individuals who make this event possible. It's an honor. Westword is going above and beyond to support and showcase Denver's vibrant local talent. The Whiteout team puts a lot of thought and attention into every detail of this event. I look forward to seeing the components come together in one incredible evening.
What are you excited to see on the runway?
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Everything -- the looks are eclectic and strong. Many are designed specifically for Whiteout. The featured designers and boutiques are unique. Each has something unexpected and stunning that I can't wait to see come down the runway.