There's New York, L.A, Miami, Atlanta, and even Baltimore Fashion Week. With a laundry list of American cities shining the spotlight on style one might wonder exactly why we need yet another Fashion Week . But for Lisa Johnson, the mastermind behind the just launched Aspen Fashion Week, the question was why not?
"Aspen has always had a style of its own and is home to more high end designers than most big cities in the country. It's an important market filled with influencers who not only help drive trends but have the affluence to purchase."
In fact, Hollywood celebs like Michelle Pfeiffer, Kurt Russell and Jack Nicholson and uber wealthy politicos like Prince Bandar a former Ambassador from Saudi Arabia to the U.S call Aspen home. The cache they add has attracted several international luxury houses including Chanel, Dior, and Fendi -- all of whom make brisk business selling chic winter gear. Now with the creation of Aspen Fashion Week, which wrapped its debut last week, these same retailers have the opportunity to showcase Aspen's particular brand of winter-chic to a select group of buyers, media and guests.
"Aspen style has always been a celebration of fashion and function," explains Johnson. "It can look great but it must be functional on the mountain as well."
With that in mind Johnson and her team set out to make Aspen Fashion Week the first of it's kind entirely dedicated to showcasing winter resort, ski and snow board collections on the runway.
"We had a mix of designers during the week who embody that intersection (Fendi, Rossignol, Isaora, Ed Hardy SNOW, Circe SNOW, Kaestle, Obermeyer, Under Armour) as well as those that represent the après ski lifestyle (Dennis Basso, Gabriel Conroy) and in store collections from Moncler."
Johson, who is officially the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and her team lined up sponsors such as W Magazine and Sky Hotel for the event. In addition to boutique style fashion shows, the week featured a host of parties, mixers and a movie screening hosted by legendary designer, Rudolph Valentino.
"I was fortunate enough to see Valentino: The Last Emperor at the Hamptons Film Festival and fell in love with the film," shares Johnson. "I found it to be a beautiful tribute to the life and career of one of the most talented and successful couture designers ever born. It seemed like a perfect fit to kick off Aspen Fashion Week. We knew of Mr. Valentino's love of skiing, mountains and our chic lifestyle and invited him to host the screening at our historic Wheeler Opera House. He graciously accepted. The only other task we asked of him was to enjoy Aspen for a week of skiing and shopping which he did. "
Valentino's appearance was the highlight of a spectacular debut for Aspen Fashion Week. As lavish as the debut was Johnson plans for an even better showing next season.
"The possibilities are absolutely endless. My vision for this was Sundance meets Bryant Park in Wagner Park (our local Aspen park)... And this is really what we'll have in less than a year. Sky is the limit."
Can they top Valentino?
"I have been asked this question and wow, did we set the bar high! However, I think Valentino's appearance here illustrates the magic that Aspen can offer -- it's not a hard sell to get people to want to come to this special place. I don't think we can ever trump Mr. Valentino but we sure will try to continue to impress everyone. "
Clearly, she's just warming up.