With the pandemic easing and more events going on, the need to dress up is back. If you're looking for something a little “extra” for a special occasion, local designer Alejandro Gaeta is your man.
Elegant gowns and intriguing silhouettes have helped Gaeta make a name for himself in the Denver fashion scene. But it didn't start out that way. He debuted with a ten-piece, Paris-inspired collection for the DenVhere Fashion Show in January 2020, right before the world shut down with the pandemic. “We had no idea everything would come crashing down,” he recalls. “All of a sudden, there were no shows and no opportunities for me to get myself out there.”
Like everyone else, Gaeta had to wait until things started back up again. He re-emerged to show the collection again a year later, and he’s now on his third collection, which he plans to show at the Color of Fashion show on Friday, September 23.
Born in Mexico, Gaeta grew up in El Paso. He was raised by his grandmother, a seamstress who taught him everything she knew about sewing, “I remember she was at her sewing machine, and I was always there with her. She would have me help her with the fabric as she sewed, get her a needle or cut the fabric," he recalls. "I became interested, and it became a part of my life.”
From there, he began making Halloween costumes and costumes for school plays. He was then asked to create an evening gown for his cousin’s daughter’s pageant. “That was when I really started,” he says. “Something started happening at that point.”
Just a year later, he was casting models for his own show.
Gaeta says his confidence in creating women’s special event wear came when his sister asked him to make her dress for a senior prom. “That was a pivotal point,” he reflects. “I was like, ‘I can do this!’”
Evening gowns became Gaeta’s signature for his first couple of collections. However, for his upcoming Color of Fashion run, he says audiences may be surprised by his different direction.
“This collection really came out of nowhere,” Gaeta explains. “I went to L.A. to buy fabric for the planned collection I already sketched out, and I started seeing all these fabrics that were like nothing I’d ever seen before, with colors and patterns and textures. I was so drawn to it.”
The inspiration led him to rethink his plans:. “I came back to Denver and sketched a whole new collection,” he says. The new look has taken him from elegant formal wear to ready-to-wear. “I wanted to do something fun, that a girl would wear on a girls' night out at the hottest club, or to something like the MTV Awards," he says. "It’s very fresh and edgy.”
Westword article. “They have passion and creativity and want to bring something new to the table,” he remarks. “They are the most hardworking women I’ve ever known in my life. They always want to do something different, and I have the same mentality. I’m always thinking about how to top what I just did.”
He credits his friendship with Joseph as a major contributor to his current success. The two met while working together at a restaurant.
“I was mesmerized by her because she’s so beautiful!” he exclaims. “I learned that she was a model, and I was thinking I wanted to be a designer. I showed her a little bit of my stuff, and she was like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to put a collection out. People would love this!’”
The encouragement led him to do a mini collection, photo shoot and video. “That was where they saw my talent and creativity and how I worked," he says. "And they were planning the first Color of Fashion show and asked me to close the show.”
Room for Milly cocktail bar and showed pieces from his UNFRAMED collection, which consisted of all black-and-white monochrome looks. He had three models come out wearing all-white dresses, and they became a canvas for Gaeta to begin live-painting the dresses.
“I wanted it to feel like you were taking an art piece out of a frame and wearing it as a garment,” he says. The audience sat sipping champagne while watching Gaeta paint on the garments to create living art before their eyes.
“People were a little bit like, ‘Whoa, what is happening?’” he muses. “With each model, I got dirtier and dirtier. I started using my hands as instruments. By the time the third model came out, I was just in my element, everything blacked out around me, and it was just me, the paint and the girl. I got completely drenched in paint, and there was this beautiful piece of art standing in front of everybody.”
Audiences will have to wait and see what Gaeta brings with his new ready-to-wear collection at the Color of Fashion show, but he promises it will be different. Mostly, he can’t wait for his grandmother to see the collection. The now-89-year-old has lived to see Gaeta’s quick success in Denver.
“It’s a very special thing, because I feel she is super proud of me,” he gushes. “I think that’s been my only goal — to make her happy and thank her for showing me this talent, because now it is my life.”
Alejandro Gaeta will show at Night One: Jardin du Vert of Color of Fashion, at 5 p.m. Friday, September 23, at Temple Denver, 1136 Broadway. Night Two: Musée de Verre takes place at 6 p.m. Saturday, September 24, at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway. Find tickets, $25-$120, and more information at coloroffashionco.com.