The fashion event of the summer came down Friday night when Fallene Wells introduced her Modern Nouveau collection at Fall Friperie, a show at Walker Fine Art. The line received a rave review from its audience, which appreciated Wells's concept of mixing and matching separates and fun patterns.
The show featured models standing on giant hatboxes and swapping clothes to create new looks -- essentially playing dress-up in front of an audience that could buy the pieces and then do the same at home.
Wells, the Westword MasterMind, designer, hairstylist, makeup artist, Project Runway season nine contestant and creator of Forever Darling, pulled out all the stops for her first solo show, which featured eleven pieces on five models. The models wore big fluffy hairstyles, towering high heels and garments in both floral patterns and earthy tones including yellow, nude and black as they strutted around the gallery. which was inspired by 1930s and how those styles remain relevant today. "I wanted it to be similar to a Parisian storefront, and the models were styled to resemble dolls, or dramatic fashion illustrations that I'm in love with," explains Wells.
She created ten foot-by-eight foot decals that gave the space the feel of a French boutique, and a Denver prop-maker had created platforms for the models to stand on that looked like vintage hatboxes. A coat-rack was perched by the DJ. The staging seemed like a set from a film or play, with the models as actors. As a result, the show was more like performance art than the usual long walk down a runway.
Wells's next show will be in September and will include eight designers; she's not sure if there will be another solo show. "It depends if I have another collection to show or not," she says.
In the meantime, this beautiful line goes on sale this week. Next week it will be off to production, with a return slated for November. After the show, interested customers could enter their size on a computer for any garment that caught their eye. Later, it will be made for them and delivered.
"I've been in love with fashion design since around I was eleven years old," she says. "I would sketch out collections from head to toe, and not much has changed, except now I'm taking that passion off the paper."
Keep reading for the crowd's reaction to the show a photo of Wells's tattoo.
Along with the interactive fashion show, the pop-up shop Swank visited the gallery, and a bar served everything from cocktails to chocolate-covered cake balls while the well-dressed crowd shopped and chatted.
Among those in the crowd was hat-maker Susan Dillon, owner of Kitty Mae Millinery (and some serious pink hair). " I loved the show," she says. "The clothes were so feminine and yet so strong and versatile." Jewelry maker Coeri Arajo of La Samara studio agreed. "I thought the show was very playful and light-heated and fun in the way that the models dressed each other and traded pieces to make new outfits," she adds. Matthew Brown of Fancy Tiger, aka DJ Matt Brown, played upbeat dance music during the interactive show. "I loved Fallene's designs," he says. "I always have since we carried her stuff in Fancy Tiger five years ago." Wells hopes that this new line will be available at the store soon, too. Other local vendors at the show included Wandersketch vintage dishware, which features custom illustrations from artist Erin Sketchler. "I enjoy [Wells's] philosophy of things having to match," says Sketchler. "I loved her dynamic prints that go well with each other, instead of clashing. It was really cool the way that the models dressed each other -- and her interpretation of what the '30s and '50s would be like today." Like the fashions themselves, the show came together to create a very good look for Fallene Wells. The designer was sporting her optimistic tattoo that urges viewers to "Look on the bright side," and her future looks very bright -- and fashionable.