Sometimes the art and fashion worlds collide — and they smacked together quite beautifully last Friday night at the Lower Highlands Fashion Show. Without even realizing it, Mona Lucero — namesake of the Mona Lucero boutique at 2544 15th Street and organizer of the show — presented a take on the Asian aesthetic that currently pervades both the Denver Art Museum and Robischon Gallery.

As part of the festivities for the grand opening of the Hamilton building, the DAM curators installed Japanese Art from the Colorado Collection of Kimiko and John Powers, which features more than 300 Japanese objects; RADAR: Selections from the Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, a grouping of more than sixty paintings, sculptures and other works from artist around the globe, including dominating pieces from Japan and China; Engi by Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima, a special commission from the Denver Office of Art, Culture and Film's Public Art Program; and Floating Time: An Environment by Tatsuo Miyajima, which the Logans donated to the DAM in 2000 and is now on permanent display. At Robischon, the gallery co-director installed UNDER THE RADAR: Chinese Contemporary Art, which was quite the feat since the People's Republic of China still isn't exactly tossing its doors open wide to the West. But she got almost fifty pieces that represent the first wave of contemporary art to come out of China since Mao. (See Michael Paglia's review in Thursday's edition of the paper.)

So when The Cat's Pajamas walked into Mona Lucero's, she was immediately taken by a painting on the back wall that looked remarkably similar to Yan Lei's "Painting 14" (above) on display at Robischon. Then she saw the new silk skirts Mona is showing for fall (above). And then came the models with kabuki-like hair and makeup. But when Cat asked Mona if she was channeling RADAR, she was unaware of what was happening cross town; she's just always been inspired by Asian prints and contemporary Japanese pop-culture.

Except for the fact that the show ran incredibly late (but nothing in fashion ever runs on time; hence the term "fashionably late"), Cat really loved the show. There was nothing outre or outlandish — Mona only makes attractive, well-crafted wearable pieces — but the whole collection worked cohesively and the range was wide enough to satisfy most fashion impulses. In particular, Cat liked this skirt (right). It's very loud, but it looks very Parisian with the jewelry. Sort of a modern Pucci (even though Emilio is Italian), and Cat's always had a secret Pucci fetish.

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There's also this combination, which while it may appear to come off of Tatooine or New Caprica, is fabulous. Cat loves Mona's new "hoodies" and may have to invest in a couple since her signature "Bronx" and "Brooklyn" jackets have seen better days. Better decades, in fact. Note, however, that these should be worn with long skirts and funky boots — not, under any circumstances, with tights or leggings. No, girls, this is not the '80s. Cat does not love the '80s. The '80s weren't good to anyone but Janet Jackson and Madonna.

Cat also isn't hot on this weird Heidi look. Mona is usually right on with her designs, making them flattering and functional, but this skirt just strikes Cat as Julie Andrews heading up the Alps with Captain Von Trapp and coming back down all, uh, askew. Or perhaps a jacket cover for those Christian romance books by Janette Oke that Cat's aunts gave her as a kid, where the young school marm gets won over — except not as chastely here — by the strapping Royal Canadian Mountie.

No, Cat prefers this little ensemble. Mona makes beautiful lace evening dresses and this new one is no exception. The flamanco flair, the shoes, the fringe, everything is in harmony. The model looks lovely because she is wearing the dress instead of just being a walking clothes hanger. Cat might not pair it with the Japanese-print handbag in every-night life, but it worked in the fashion shows, keeping the theme going.

Congratulations, Mona. Another great collection off the runway and into your store.

And here are some additional photos from the show. Got thoughts? Post your comments to the blog.

This is from the remake of Valley of the Dolls in which Neely O'Hara finds an accessories additction instead of pills. But seriously, the individual pieces here are good, it's just a case of one outfit hoarding the goodness.

The smiley face is fuzzy. You can't get more retro chick than that.

Great skirt, but again with the leggings...

More of that RADAR cross-over.


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Amy Haimerl