Crystal Lee avoided the curse of beige nylons by creating Block Party
Crystal Lee is a fashion designer, seamstress, stylist and all-around bad ass. Shunning the corporate world in order to follow her passion -- and avoid beige nylons -- she is pursuing her love of fashion as a student at the Art Institute of Colorado. Her line of super-easy, fly and breezy clothing will make its debut this Sunday at Beta.
Since Crystal Lee's Block Party will also mark the launch of CRLeedesigns.com, Lee is pulling out all the stops for a sunset runway show like nothing Denver has seen before, featuring hairstyling by Ed Gillespie, a photography collaboration with Rosco Guerrero, and a cameo from hometown hero Bo Scaife of the Broncos. Crystal Lee designed, crafted and poured her blood, sweat and tears into each outfit.
We caught up with the visionary to get the details on her fashion world:
Westword: You've said you want the runway and event to showcase your personality and perspective as a designer. Talk about the idea to launch Block Party.
Crystal Lee: Originally when I came up with the idea, I wanted to do a show that displays my personality and my perspective as a designer and introduce people to my aesthetic, which is easy and breezy and fun. I like to get together with people and have fun so the decision to call it Block Party was easy. Obviously, the theme is color blocking, which is hot this season. I like to create things that are easy to wear for everyone. My models are all ethnicities and body types. I wanted to bring something totally new to Denver. What you won't see from me as a designer is a Lady Gaga meat dress. I don't try to create the next bubble jacket or whatever is hot at the moment. It's important for me to show my aesthetic, which is incredible fabrics, creating silhouettes and clothes you can wear at multiple kinds of events.
How are trends chosen? Whether it be color-blocking, bell-bottoms, or otherwise?
Corny enough, what I learned in a lot of fashion history classes is that different trends come back every 35 to 40 years. The next trend that you'll see after color blocking is Aztec, tribal prints and different interpretations of that style. You'll typically see things on the runway in Europe first. Color blocking was huge in the '80s. People are taking that spin and not using just primary colors but incorporating more sherbet tones as well.
Who are the models you're featuring for the runway portion of the show?
Two of my models are my cousins from Phoenix but all the other girls are from here, and are girls that I know. That's who I want to design for: the average girls who are fashionable and like to have fun on any average day. Girls who like to dress up or even keep it casual, fun and chic.