Friday night's MAX Fashion Show turned out to be a great night for the Children's Hospital Colorado and for Denver fashionistas.
This year's MAX Show featured a special visit from designer Maria Cornejo, who made her first public appearance in Denver showcasing her spring/summer 2012 collection.
Cornejo, whose New York fashion brand Zero + Maria Cornejo began in the late 1990s, now counts a number of successful women as her fans, including Michelle Obama, Tilda Swinton, model Shalom Harlow and more.
Proceeds from the show benefitted the Mike McMorris Cystic Fibrosis Center in the Breathing Institute at Children's Hospital Colorado, and earlier that day, the MAX Fashion store in Denver also hosted a trunk show during which another 10 percent of proceeds were donated to the hospital.
Before the big show, The Huffington Post chatted with Cornejo about fashion, Michelle Obama and strong women:
How did you feel when you first saw Michelle Obama wearing your designs?
Very excited, I mean who wouldn’t be excited? She’s sort of the epitome of who I’d want to dress. She’s intelligent and a mom, and I love the fact that she wears the clothes when she’s being herself. She was wearing them at the G20 summit, and during an appearance for the "Let’s Move" campaign.
What and who are you inspired by?
Design-wise I’m not really inspired by one sort of particular person, I’m very so in my own head. There are so many women who I’m inspired by.
I met Christiane Amanpour and was amazed by her, that she travels across the world to bring the news to us. I’m really inspired everyday by the women I meet. I think a lot of women are doing amazing things. Like Michelle Obama.
It’s women’s history month. What do you think makes a strong woman?
I think someone who’s a good mother, intelligence, independent thinking, caring--and I think we really shot ourselves in the foot with the women’s liberation movement because we try to do everything. We’re not superman!
I think there’s a balance to be reached and the fact is that women care about the whole picture. Men are great also, but women are much more overseeing. And hopefully that’s what we manage to do in society.
And what is it about fashion that is empowering?
For me, it’s about making women feel good about themselves. If they’re wearing great clothes, it’s important. I mean, if it's great for your job interview and makes you feel better, they’re great. I used to think they didn’t matter, but no, clothes are important. Clothes empower people.
We’re also producing 70 percent of our collection here in New York so that it doesn’t go overseas--and sometimes when it is produced overseas, we want to make sure it benefits people. We've already hosted shows benefitting earthquake victims and the Japanese tsunami, but also in Bolivia we have a group of women who knit all the alpaca for us, and make things that are handmade. Then I have each woman sign the piece.
My grandmother used to always knit me things and that made it special. I think that’s lacking now--to have that human touch.
I’ve read that you generally don’t like shopping. How did you get into fashion and design?
I like designing. I’m not a shopper. When you design you’re very critical and you don’t like anything. I like shopping for things that aren’t clothes, because fashion is what I do.
But coming to MAX was pretty cool because I got a pair of boots (laughs)! For me ignorance is bliss because it makes you want to be creative.
All photos by Bernard Grant.