Denver designers, Rachel Marie Hurst and Jeremy Willard.
Rachel Marie Hurst
How does being a “Denver-ite” influence your work?
Denver has one of those unique cultures where there’s an eclectic group of people. There’s still a fashion scene, but I think comfort is very important, so that’s something I try to have in all of my clothes.
It is also one of those places that feel like home. I’m not originally from here, but I’ve lived here for 20 years, so it just feels like family and every time I do a show or an event, it’s such a warm welcome.
I did New York Fashion Week back in 2012, and it’s a great experience, but it’s just more of that ‘time is money’ mentality. You get to see that business side of fashion, which is all what we’re trying to do, but Denver is a bit friendlier.
It’s more forgiving, and that allows designers to be more experimental so that we can be more artistic. We can have a little more fun with our fashion, whereas in New York, you might be a bit more scared to take a risk. I feel like I’ve evolved as a designer and an artist here because I was able to explore and find what I like and what I don’t like as a brand.
What’s something that your followers don’t know about you?
Probably how big of a nerd I am. I love anime, and I love K-pop, I love things that traditionally designers aren’t supposed to love. We’re supposed to be these chic creatures, and everyone wears black and is very serious, but I’m more of a kid at heart, and I think that’s what keeps my brand alive. I like to bring a little more whimsy to my collection.
How are you planning to shake up the Denver fashion scene?
My studio is broken up into two sections–one side is where all the magic happens, and the other space is used for meeting with clients and has that fashion atelier feel. I’m trying to bring that culture back where it’s a more intimate [shopping experience]. You can come in and feel like you’re shopping in your own closet.
I think there are those people who love fast-fashion, but there are still those people who are looking for really unique pieces and want to get pampered and know the face behind the brand.
“My clothing line is combination of sexy, edgy, flirty and chic. I like things to be very feminine, but still have bold, masculine details or little touches that give it a unique twist.”
Have you been a part of the Denver fashion scene for awhile?
I would say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because I’ve been here eight years and, in our twenties, my partner, Sean, and I used to go out and dress crazy, club-kids style, and go to fashion events and art shows. But I really just recently started getting more serious about it and being more active in the fashion scene and not just showing up and being ‘fabulous.’
You just had your first run with Denver Fashion Week, how do you think it went?
I’m super proud of myself! After doing three months of straight work and stressing myself out, overall, it went well, but I realized that I work better at my own pace.
I pretty much dyed everything myself and a lot of zippers were involved, like the backs of the jackets unzipped and the pants unzipped, so it was a lot of work! I think I would do even better if I had six months and could leisurely work on it and have my ideas develop more.
I noticed you have zippers as your earrings, too. Are those kind of your thing?
Yeah, [growing up] I was a little ‘punk rocker’–I put that in air quotes because I was such a poser–but I was in that scene for a few years, and I guess it really soaked into my brain. They’re very decorated–the colorful hair, paint everywhere, plaid, leopard and fur–that’s just kind of what I find cool now. I was basically babysat by MTV and Nickelodeon, so 90s and 2000s hip-hop is another thing that I think has seeped into my [style].
What is your favorite look you’ve ever put together?
I took a tailcoat and a pair of jeans, bleached it and then had Sean, who does hair and makeup, paint it. We took different color fabric dyes and put them in shot glasses and he watercolor-painted the tailcoat and pant, so it’s just this beautiful rainbow piece. I originally made that for myself, and I wore it to Artopia in Denver a few years ago, and I kind of brought it out of the woodwork recently, and everyone loves it. It was a good project because I got to collaborate with Sean and his work is amazing–anything he touches is gold in my opinion.
“In real life, when I’m just hanging out or going to the bar, my style is actually just cut-off jeans and ripped up old shirts.”