Jimmy and the ADCD board came up with the Paper Fashion Show in 2004 as a replacement for the annual Christmas Ornament auction/fundraiser that frankly wasn’t raising any money or awareness for the local arts community. He was inspired by a body art ball in Deep Ellum (Dallas), where artists painted live models which then were showcased in a runway competition. The designs as well as the event were just so raw, one really felt like they were part of something underground. Jimmy wanted to replicate that feeling in a way that showcased the raw talent in the Denver design community. When fellow Board Member Sherry Johnston asked if there was a way we could incorporate paper into the event, it just clicked: a paper fashion show. ADCD President George Lim mentioned that Seattle AIGA had just hosted a similar event, so he immediately got on the phone to see how feasible this was going to be.
Everyone wanted to be a part of it right from the beginning and the energy-level was through the roof. The goal became to get as many artists involved as they could find: hair & makeup, modeling talent, photographers, videographers, DJs, and of course graphic & fashion designers. Everyone wanted the show to be part of their portfolio. Even the beneficiaries of the fundraiser (DAVA) wanted to be involved, and integrated paper fashion design into their arts curriculum to later become part of the runway show. The paper companies donated cash and the paper, since they were perfectly positioned to get exposure to designers that would be working with (and printing future jobs on) their paper. Once this stage was set, the media jumped on board, with Kirk Montgomery from 9News picking up the story and airing a 4 minute piece about the show.
The first show was held at Cervantes Ballroom on November 9, 2004, and was hosted by drag-queen comedians. There were 23 total designs modeled in the show, which started fashionably late at more than an hour behind schedule. It was chaotic and the sheer size of the event made it impossible to run smoothly. But they pulled it off, and the most rewarding moment came when Jimmy was able to hand over a $1500 check to DAVA at their annual Gala. The show has come a long way since this first event, but the one thing that has remained constant is the energy created by bringing together such amazing talent from right here in our back yard.