PAIR resident Francis Roces on designing to a different drummer and sticking to it

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Fabric is where it all begins for designer Francis Roces.
Editor's note: Longtime Denver fashion designer Francis Roces, whose brand name is KimonoDragons, is half of the inaugural pair of PAIR residents at Denver's Powerhaüs Studio. As part of his three-month residency, he and his fine-art counterpart, Charlie Boots, will be reporting from the real world via Show and Tell, as they learn the ropes from studio mentors Mona Lucero, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy and Jimmy Sellars. Roces's second post follows.

See also:
- Francis Roces on KimonoDragons and needle-and-thread inspirations
- 100 Colorado Creatives: Francis Roces
- The world according Charlie Boots: An art-scene newbie on what it takes to get noticed

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Just finished another fashion show, and looking toward two more shows in July. I have set myself a challenge of creating a new collection for each fashion event. So for the Paint the Runway fashion show, the theme I went for was Steam Punk and for the Runway for Relief show, I did a springtime theme.

For the next show, Designers Rock, the theme, '80s hip hop, was given to me by the organizers. To me that means leggings, miniskirts and loose tops for both women and men, and also hoodies and baggy shorts or pants. I will pull out all my knits and prints for this challenge and will prepare twenty new outfits. Ideas are floating in my head -- ready to become reality.

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After Designers Rock will be the Apocalyptic Ball. I have seventeen models lined up for this event. The event's main theme is "Awakening," and the show is broken up into two segments. One segment is about lightness, and the second one is about darkness. I requested to be in the light segment, just to be outside of my usual comfort zone of dark colors. I decided to do '80s Madonna-style for my lineup. The Apocalyptic Ball is one of the main events I look forward to each year.

People always ask, "Where do you sell your stuff?" I tell them I sell at fashion markets and events. I also explain that I have sold at a few local boutiques, but with time those boutiques have closed and I have ended up with more inventory than expected. I also hand out business cards at shows to people looking to buy dresses, and I set up appointments for them to look at my designs.

I do what I need to do to keep my business going, and I know that what I just said seems like non-traditional retail. But although I have a bad habit of going against the grain, I do have my exceptions to that rule. The Denver Fashion Truck is selling a few of my dresses and menswear, and sales are going well. As Tim Gunn of Project Runway would say, "Make it work" -- words to live by.

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People think that I have a crew of people that work for me, but I surprise them when I tell them that it is just me. How do I explain that people have disappointed me so many times that I have developed a deep distrust of others? How do I explain the work and hardship that go into creating a clothing line?

I know my goals for KimonoDragons, and I'll do what I can to achieve that. If outsiders don't like how I do things, that is their problem -- but I am willing to accept advice.
Another question people ask is, "What are your goals?" Inside my head I would say, "None of your business." But I can't say that. My goals are to be successful, happy and living the easy life with my chosen partner. The American Dream would be a nice goal.

But people want details, a plan, pie chart and a slide show. I don't really like to share details of my inner workings, so here is a glimpse into my goals: 1) to be out of debt; 2) to have KimonoDragons' workspace/retail; 3) KimonoDragons to be my moneymaker.

There have been times when I just want to scream and yell that life is unfair and that I deserve the good life. I have come to face the fact that that voice is just my selfish, spoiled ego complaining that it has to work.

I don't listen to that voice anymore, and I am working hard to stay focused on what is ahead of me and staying positive. I know what I have to do to complete my goals. On that path, I am surrounded by chatter and distraction; I shall just see them as such. I am what I am, and I don't need to be molded into something else.

Now back to sewing!

-- Francis Roces, June 26, 2013




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Powerhaüs Studio

2900 Marion St., Denver, CO

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