Last week, designer Skye Barker Maa held a party to introduce her brand SKY|AIR and displayed her models in a mini-fashion show. Kept in Fashion factoryowned by Maa, guests were able to mingle and then find seats at the entrance of Stanley Marketplace for the runway show. With a love for avant-garde fashion, design was something Maa never considered pursuing. However, the beginning of Fashion factory helped change its trajectory.
What started as a music school called Neighborhood Music evolved into an extensive vocal program. This then inspired her to open her own theater program called Factory 55. It was during her theater program that children and adults wanted to get more involved with the production and learn how to create props and costumes. With that in mind, Maa hired professionals to help teach costume design classes.
From there, she realized that working with professionals who were also designers, there was a fashion need that wasn’t being met. With this idea she bought a 2500 square meters Fashion factory space to focus on creating more classes for adults and children.
“My evolution as a designer was that I had all these highly skilled staff members around me, and whenever we had downtime or were in the middle of projects, I’d show them a sketch and be like, let’s do this, ” Maa said. “I was already producing small fashion shows on the side and ended up doing my first collection with my team.”
While Maa sold it recently Factory 555 business and Neighborhood Music – something she has owned for 13 years – Fashion factory has continued to grow by offering series production. This means that Maa and her professional design team work with regional designers to make their clothes and help them bring them to life. Together, they take the design sketch and put it through the fashion design process of making, building, producing and fulfilling the patterns. There are also opportunities for established designers who need help sewing or want to focus more on design.
“It’s been such a journey, I’m always amazed by people who start careers at this point in their lives,” Maa said. “The reason I sold Neighborhood Music and Factory 555 is because I found my passion and this is my path.”
In addition to owning her own business, Maa also showcased her first collection titled “Life Aquatic” at Denver Fashion Week (DFW) fall season. Inspired by visiting the aquarium with her son, Maa decided to turn the sea creatures she saw into fabric for her designs. She created a black and white pattern to represent a Stingray with Spotted Eagles and blue and pink patterns for an octopus.
“Eagle Spotted Stingray and Octapod are original designs. I created them with a graphic artist,” Maa said. “I basically took my pictures of the Spotted Stingray Eagle and gave them to a graphic designer and he and I worked on the fabrics.”
Although some were quick to judge the unusual collection, Maa has always had a passion for the avant-garde and understands that her designs may not be for everyone.
“It’s definitely original, hopefully not like anything else on the runway,” Maa said. “I hope that’s always what I do and that it sparks conversations anyway.”
With that said, her launch party was a way for her to introduce her brand to the public and give people a chance to see her collection who weren’t able to attend DFW. Maa also debuted with it SKYE|AIRE website. Although her DFW collection primarily featured womenswear, Maa said this menswear is also available on her new website. This includes hoodies and bodysuits made from the same fabrics as her Life Aquatic collection.
“There’s also a practical design based on it,” Maa said. “Things with really long trains, there are versions without them that exist as well – that’s usually what people buy.”
While Maa hopes to one day showcase her designs internationally, she is now focusing on preparing for her non-traditional fashion show held inside the Dali Alive Exhibition located in Stanley Market. The show will include dance performances by jk-co adult contemporary dance and a photography experience by Tony Gallagher Photography — all designs are also inspired by Dali.
“[My collection is] beautiful, but it’s also quirky and made from non-traditional fabrics,” Maa said.
See SKYE|AIRE, Rachel Marie Hurst, Matilda Marginal, Adobe Darko, Tyne Hall, MadVan Designs, Romper Girl and Hott Pink Matter take the runway on January 31 at 7pm at the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace. Get your tickets here.
All photos by Jackson Davis
Video by Brian Lanzer/Lanzer Productions
Makeup: Guerrero Virce and Jocelyn Cruz
Models: Londyn McClain, Lauren Walker, Grace A Obrien, Rian Williams, Angelina Moon, Izzy Balcer, Vanessa Gallegos, Haven Mayer, Ariah Shuffler, Awetash, Skye Barker Maa, Guerrero Virce, Genesis Ashley Gomez, Shayna Boydyn, Sam Cruz