Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

I met Colorado native, Brooks Luby years ago at a "Day of Caring for Breast Cancer" event (founded by the late Sue Miller).  A graduate of George Washington High School, Brooks is a 29-year breast cancer survivor who is involved with many breast cancer causes, and she still stays close to the people in the breast cancer community.

For years now, I have been dreaming about wearing a beautiful creation made by Denver’s nationally known, recognized designer, Brooks.  My dream came true this October when I wore a specially designed for me ensemble by Brooks to the 2019 Carousel Ball.

The threads of her talent, and her early in-life design creativity served her well towards pursuing her passion and vision.  Brooks opened her independent, unique, contemporary, special occasion boutique (prior to having various shared spaces), Brooks, LTD, in Cherry Creek North in 1979. 

Now with her design studio in LoDo, at 1616-14th Street in the Acme Lofts, Brooks says:  “I work by appointment only because I can give my clients individual attention in a quiet, comfortable environment.”  Always venturing out to be bold, but create easy-to-wear designs, her work is like walking art.

As a person, Brooks impresses with her honesty and inner calm, although I enjoyed bringing out her fun sense of humor.   She’s Zen-like centered, and I believe she knows her clients’ style from the moment she meets them.  Regardless of age, body-type, or taste, Brooks uses her heavenly fabrics and turns them into a personalized masterpiece customized just for you!

When did you know you wanted to design clothes?  What age? Around the age of 10 I became interested in making clothes, it blossomed from there.

First design you made?  A very difficult box pleated skirt and a striped vest to go with it.  I guess I’ve always liked to challenge myself!

How did you prepare to become a designer?  I started making clothes for myself, my family and friends.  Then I went to college with the intention of exploring where I could fit into the fashion world.  I found myself at FIT in New York, which was the beginning of my formal training.

What was your defining moment that set you on your path?  The very first design I made  and received recognition from was used antique silk scarves which I made into a chic dress.

Does anyone in your family share your talents?  My Mother was a master knitter, she was a perfectionist.  Growing up I was always around beautiful textiles crafted into unusual pieces of clothing, mostly sweaters.

Who is your favorite designer?  This changes all the time.  I have many that I love, I think what Vera Wang has done for the bridal industry is brilliant.  She is edgy, and unique. I love her editorial shoots, keeping in mind editorial doesn’t always translate into sales.  I also respect what Donna Karan is doing with her Urban Zen collection as a lifestyle look.  Of course there are many European Designers that I also look up to.

When you first opened your business, what was your greatest challenge?  Expectations to do it all – running a retail store to making the product, fitting the product and selling the product.

What do you love most about Denver?  Today?  Denver about 25 years ago?  I think the audience in Denver is a diverse community.  We are active, like to dress up, and like to be casual.  I think this translates into why I design what I do.  25 years ago it was mostly a community of active outerwear, ski clothes and western wear.   I remember a down coat I designed (and had made locally at a skiwear factory) where the skirt unzipped at the waistline to showcase just the short jacket.  This was innovative at the time.   Now the local designer offering is more well-rounded and all-inclusive – from street wear, daywear, and date-night to gala events. 

What do you see as some upcoming fashion trends?  I think fashion trends trickles down from what the industry is doing globally.  With the internet so accessible it is easy to see those trends.  I break them down into what I believe my audience would entertain wearing; I create my own viewpoint.  As for specific trends: intentionally oversized shapes, and interesting, unexpected pattern mixes of which I’ve always embraced.  Interesting shapes and colors can look elegant and graceful when draped and done correctly.

How much are you influenced by the trends? I am influenced but only to a certain degree.  It’s important to maintain your own vision and know what works for you and your customers.

 What’s special about the fabrics you use?  Fabrics are my go-to inspiration.  Not all fabrics do the same thing.  When I use a specific fabric a pattern must be created to adapt to the drape of the fabric.  I don’t think people realize how complicated translating fabric into a good design is.

After first talking with a client, how quickly do you know what you want to create for them?  When I first meet with a client I listen to what their needs are for the specific ensemble we are talking about.  I have them try on prototypes, show them possibilities and then ponder it.  After sketches are finished we get back together and decide what the best idea would be for their body type and the event.  Listening is very important.

How are you going to “design” your life in the next 10 years?  I have decided that “slow fashion” is how I will continue to explore and express my creativity.  Working closely with tactile, luxurious fabrics gives me a lot of joy.  Educating the public about ethical fashion, as well as the value of good design and fit are important aspects of design going forward. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?  Last month I was invited to showcase my collection at Mayor Hancock’s Diversity & inclusion Awards Presentation.  The runway show highlighted a diverse group of models & Commissioners wearing my designs. It was a range of body types, personalities as well as ages.  I emphasized that fashion is more about style than age.   In this day of ageism I help women express themselves to be their best dressed self, no matter their size or the current stage of life that they are in.  I am happy to have a voice in this movement.

I also am grateful to have had the opportunity to dress women who are breast cancer survivors, like myself.   When their world was looking dismal, I was able to help lighten it up by creating beautiful dresses for them to wear on the runway.  It’s amazing what a beautiful, wearable piece will do for a woman’s confidence.

Are you still involved with breast cancer causes?  When were you first diagnosed?  I am always involved in breast cancer causes.  I was diagnosed 29 ¾ years ago!  I am always sensitive to women’s needs when it comes to how they express themselves through clothing.  But body image during and after having breast cancer was especially a challenge for me, as it is for most women.  I think the experience has made me even more sensitive to women’s needs and insecurities.

Tell us a little about your journey with breast cancer?  It’s always been an emotional journey.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I am reminded of how lucky I am to be able to say that I am cancer free.  I realize that this could change at any moment in time.  As a 29 years survivor I see that current technology has come a long way and I am hopeful for a cure and empowerment for survivors to lead a fruitful life.

Where is somewhere in the world you would still like to visit?  I have been lucky to have traveled many places, Africa being my favorite.  I would still like to go to Machu Picchu.

What do you want your legacy to be?  This is a difficult question, as clothing can be a materialistic thing.  To me clothing has a much deeper meaning.  There is a psychology of dressing that goes into each day when we decide what to wear.  I know that a lot of women have my clothing designs and save them because of our personal connection.  I hope that I have educated women about the beauty of dressing from the inside out.  It is my aspiration that I have, and will continue to have, a voice in women choosing a unique, creative way of dressing, a way to express their innermost being.