Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Sarah Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Backstage at City Hall Amphitheater, hairspray hissed and makeup brushes fluttered as models and stylists bustled about preparing for Thursday night’s round of the 2016 Denver Fashion Weekend (DFW). This night featured “alternative” models falling under the descriptive categories of “voluptuous, petite, androgynous, ageless, and inked.” The Denver fashion scene, according to makeup artist Michelle Brianae, is “trying to break the mold” with members of all ages and experience levels coming together in an eclectic mix of creativity.
In the middle of the organized chaos, 17-year-old Camilla Douley sat with her face plastered with silver sparkles while a stylist did her hair. This was her second year at DFW after being spotted in last year’s crowd and deemed model-worthy. She enjoys modeling and hopes to move forward with it, but says that “it’s not as glamorous as people think, plus, it’s hard to make money unless you’re a supermodel.” Walking down the runway is not as easy as it looks, and models undergo training to achieve the appearance of effortless movement. Douley explained that each designer demands something different, but a relaxed, yet stoic look is the norm with absolutely no smiling or indication of nervousness. After all the training, dieting, and exercise regimes, the confidence earned from the experience and “that three seconds of fame all feels worth it.”
The fashion industry is known for many things, but the traditional model aesthetic is being forcefully challenged. Charlie Price, designer and founder of DFW, admits “there’s always going to be a place for the super model, but it’s just about context.” Price has no doubt that the use of alternative models, or what outsiders would consider regular looking people, is growing and will continue to make waves. Companies such as Dove proudly advertise their product with what they’ve branded as “real women”, and Aerie has vowed to stop using Photoshop to alter their models’ bodies to be unrealistically tall and thin.
For now, the alternative label of curvy or petite models is an appropriate description, but runways like DFW’s demonstrate that there are other types of models out there and anyone can aspire to be one. 303 Magazine does an open casting call before planning DFW so anyone can audition; no need for experience or an agency. Kendall Naetzer, a freelance “inked” model, stressed the “need to represent different types of humanity” in the fashion industry and was proud to be doing just that at DFW. Shatika Philips, a “voluptuous” model, agreed, saying, “we want to see people like us, but I would hope that even when looking at models, people would still be happy in their own skin.”
There was an incredibly wide range of colors, sizes, genders, and ages preparing for the show backstage. Among the beautiful blend of people working together to put on a show one resounding theme was clear: be unique.