On January 30, the second annual Westword Whiteout will kick off Denver's 2014 fashion season at the McNichols Building. The evening -- which raises funds for the American Transplant Association -- will include live music, specialty vendors, classic cocktails and some of the city's top designers in a signature runway event. Over the next several weeks, we'll be profiling some of the creative people who are contributing to Whiteout. Next up: Vanessa Barcus, founder and owner of Goldyn, which will be providing designs for the event.
See also: Westword Whiteout: Meet designer Brandi Shigley
Westword: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get into fashion?
Vanessa Barcus: I'm originally from Boulder, Colorado, though I came to Denver after living in Los Angeles for five years. I went to college out there, and then worked for a designer, which is how I first got into the industry. When I came back to Colorado I missed being in the fashion industry, and I felt there weren't enough forward-thinking, progressive designer labels available out here, so I was motivated to start Goldyn.
What was the first thing you ever designed/made?
I'm not a designer, so this doesn't really apply to me.... The first designer I worked for, Trovata, made casual wear like tees, button-ups and chinos... I worked in marketing, though, and my background has always been in marketing/advertising.
What inspires you?
I'm always inspired by counterculture, and what's happening on the street. Fashion oftentimes travels upward from there... . I see people I know pushing boundaries and trying new things in a very organic way, and lo and behold I'll see it on the runways a couple years later. I'm also very inspired by the arts, especially music. Art, music and fashion are always kind of interrelated, but it's good to get out of your genre for a bit and see what's going on elsewhere.
What is your take on the fashion scene in Denver: What is good, what's bad, what needs work?
It's an exciting time to be in Denver... it's really having a bit of a creative renaissance. There is a group of us here who are really trying to push the fashion industry in particular forward, and I see it happening little by little. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back, but we're trying! There is a growing community of some really fantastic local designers here, like Imminent Rise, Cartel Noir and CarolAnn Wachter, for instance, and places like the DDI and other organizations are starting to come together to create a voice for the community. For my part, I carry a handful of local brands to help create awareness, support them with mentoring, and help with marketing and PR, and I try to stay involved through the different non-profits and professional organizations. The one thing that I see that's holding us back here locally is our lack of production facilities.... Most local designers have to outsource to other states, or out of the country, in order to produce their collections. It makes being a designer in Denver that much more challenging. If we can start getting more production here locally, I think it will help us reach the next level.
Why are you looking forward to participating in Westword's Whiteout?
Whiteout is always a super-fun event for us, and we get to see old friends/other designers who we usually haven't seen in a while... it's always exciting to see what they bring to the table!
What can we expect to see from you on the runway?
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You can usually expect to see an intersection of minimalist, modernist style with a bit of a downtown street edge. Specifically, we'll be showcasing resort and early spring looks from designers like Helmut Lang, VPL, Iro, Lizzie Fortunato, Pamela Love, The Woods and more.