Meet the Fashion Designers of Artopia 2016

Plans are looking good for Artopia 2016 at City Hall on Saturday, February 20 — a night of art, culture and fashion. And cocktails, of course, which you can enjoy as you move through eight levels of art installations and exhibits, curated by Jolt from Guerilla Garden, and showcasing Denver's most exciting artists, as well as some stars on the national scene. Whiteout, the Westword fashion show, will return to Artopia, too, featuring local designers and their interpretation of “The Art of Fashion.” 

Meet the designers responsible for making Artopia look so good: 

D'Lola Couture
Designer Deedee Vicory launched D'Lola Couture in 2010. At her launch, she closed out a large fashion festival named Fashion Fest 2010 with the debut of her first twelve wedding gown designs and the opening of her flagship boutique in Historic Olde Town Arvada. Since 2010, she has appeared on numerous local television shows and played an integral part in multiple large fashion shows. D'Lola Couture wedding gowns are truly vintage-inspired, with a kiss of contemporary flair. Vicory loves the deep ivory colors and the modest, elegant but sexy look of gowns from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Having worked with wedding gowns since 1993, she truly understands the way a wedding dress should fit on the body of a woman, making her feel like a rock star on the very biggest day of her life!

Vicory was honored with a 2015 MasterMind award at last year's Artopia.
Denver Bespoke is a project of designers AJ Machete and Lianna Kachmar. The brand focuses on highly structured and hand-tailored suits and overcoats that are custom-made to fit each client using a unique fit system. Denver Bespoke employs ten local artisans who work with the designers to create pieces for clients around the world using incredible fabrics such as hand-woven Harris tweeds and durable American-woven gabardine. All of the pieces are sewn by hand or on restored early- and mid-twentieth-century sewing machines. Lianna and AJ met at Pratt Institute, where Lianna earned a BFA in fashion design; she later designed clothing for brands at all levels of the industry, including for the label JH Collectibles at Liz Claiborne immediately before starting Denver Bespoke in 2009. AJ has worked as a copywriter, designer and filmmaker; he has a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a master's degree from Harvard University.
Equillibrium is a lifestyle streetwear brand specializing in apparel, handbags and accessories for both men and women. All designs and products are created with triple bottom-line principles: people, planet and profit. Founder and creator Deb Henriksen has a background rich in urban roots from skateboarding, city roots in high fashion, and sustainability roots in green building and environmental health. This homogenous mixture is what inspires Equillibrium's style. Equillibrium is a brand that stands out among competitors. The company's organic roots and its solid reputation have inspired consumers, colleagues and the apparel industry to become more conscious in process and less wasteful in general.

Henriksen was honored with a MasterMind award in 2007.
Gino Velardi
Gino Velardi is recognized as one of Denver's most prominent fashion designers. He received the Wake Up Your Warrior award — given to recipients who are fulfilling their dreams and goals despite great illness or disability — in 2012; the award for Denver's Best Fashion Designer at the annual Denver Style Expo in 2011, a huge honor considering that the Denver area had three designers on shows such as Project Runway up for consideration; and Fashion Group International's Rising Star Couture Designer of the Year award in 2007. His high-energy fashion shows over the past decade have created a base of clients that demand his gorgeous evening gowns, flirty cocktail dresses and stylish coats for their own fashion collections. Velardi's love of the female figure shows in his continuous search for designs that complement a woman's body. He is a self-taught fashion designer who has been refining his craft for over a decade in the Denver market. He works hard to stay in touch with what today's client is looking for while not straying from his own personality and design esthetic. Velardi's designs utilize luxurious fabrics to create elegant, high-end designs for the woman who demands to feel beautiful and will not be satisfied until she has achieved her goal.
Mona Lucero
Mona Lucero will present her Spring 2016 "Les Inspirations du Papillon" collection for Westword's Whiteout. Each dress comprises vintage scarves draped in the manner in which a sculptor would create an artwork. Lucero works in a three-dimensional manner, draping the fabric on the dress form and contemplating every angle in order to enhance the lines of a woman's body. Each piece in the Papillon collection is one of a kind. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado and an associates' degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Lucero brings art and fashion together in her signature style, which can be described as playful, colorful, unpredictable and chic.

Lucero is also a Westword MasterMind.
Cisco, a Mexican-Italian designer from Denver, Colorado, began the journey toward his dream in the summer of 2013, when he launched YOCISCO Underwear. YOCISCO entered the market with a limited-edition brief featuring color blocking and a design of the Denver skyline. Cisco boldly became the face of the brand, pulling from his seventeen years of experience in underwear modeling. The brand was welcomed with open arms by consumers throughout the country. In early 2014, YOCISCO released a larger collection, using whimsical designs and colorful bamboo fabrics. Retailers across the country began to take notice. In just under two years in the market, YOCISCO has released its latest line — the Most Wanted Collection — accompanied by a powerful, thought-provoking campaign. All YOCISCO underwear is made from bamboo fabric, which is moisture-wickening, odor-absorbing, uber-soft and eco-friendly. Cisco believes that feeling confident and comfortable is sexy, and since underwear is the first thing a man puts on, YOCISCO truly is "Where Sexy Starts."
Elyse Rainbolt
Elyse Rainbolt is a native of Ashland, Oregon, who now works and resides in Denver. She is a furrier and designer and loves working with leather, fur and silk. Her textile design is inspired by Peter Max, the Beatles and Chris Jagger, who designed and hand-painted jackets for his brother, Mick Jagger, as well as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. Elyse is also inspired by Art Deco design, Busby Berkeley films, and music and the musicians who create it. She designs for full bands, solo musicians, fashionable audiophiles and exclusive boutiques.
Anna Festa
Born and raised in Denver, Anne Fanganello worked in the fashion industry in New York City for eighteen years. Her varied and extensive background includes positions with Zac Posen (COO), Nanette Lepore (head of production, technical design and operations teams), Victoria's Secret, Cynthia Steffe and more. She was intricately involved in producing New York runway shows as well as overseeing technical design, fitting, pattern-making and sewing techniques to perfect the collections for production and sale. Anne has moved back to Denver to create her own line of clothing for today's real woman. The AnnaFesta brand offers a curvy collection for women who want to feel confident in beautifully fitting, curve-enhancing, high-quality, on-trend clothing. All garments are produced in Colorado and designed with one-of-a-kind ‘FestaFit’ measurements to visually enhance the bust and derriere while slimming the waist. Anne is an advocate of positive body image, no matter what a woman's shape or size. The team motto at AnnaFesta: Love your body!

Hair and Makeup

El Salon

Owner and stylist Steve Trujillo established El Salon in 1987 and currently shares ownership with his nephew, AJ Garcia. For over 28 years, El Salon has contributed to redefining the Denver hairstyling industry, hiring and developing talented top professionals and maintaining high standards with up-to-date education and training. El Salon has been recognized on numerous occasions for its top stylists and unique atmosphere, winning not only industry awards such as Southwest Hairstylist of the Year 2015, Colorado's Hairstyling Awards, Hairstylist of the Year 2014 and also Colorist of the Year 2014, but 5280 magazine's "Top of the Town," 303 Magazine's "Best Salon" 2015 and 2009, and the Rocky Mountain News "Top of the Rockies" honor.

Vanity Dollz
The Vanity Dollz beauty team is full of artists with eclectic backgrounds. Cha Cha, the team lead, has over twenty years of experience, ranging from retro replication to high fashion couture. The Vanity Dollz have worked on runway, print, commercial, video, short film and movie projects.Here's the fine print: 
Happy Hour Tickets (sold out): Come at 5:30 p.m. for a special reception featuring food samples from participating restaurants and a chance to preview the art, then stay for all the fashion and fun of Artopia itself as a general admission ticket-holder.

VIP Tickets (sold out): Come at 7 p.m. for a special reception featuring food from Troy Guard restaurants, an open bar and a gift bag; enjoy special runway seating during the Whiteout fashion show (runway area limited to VIP only).

General Admission Tickets: Come at 7 p.m. for all the art and entertainment of Artopia, which runs until midnight. Tickets are $40 until 11:59 p.m. Friday, February 19, and go up to $50 on Saturday.

Find more details and buy tickets now on our Artopia 2016 site.