Dan Richters brings unconventional designs to Parker Fashion Week

Fashion is an art like any other medium. At least that’s how designer Dan Richters feels. The Omaha-based design approaches making clothes not with a needle and thread, but with clay and silicone.

“It’s a long process,” says Richters. “I found out about it just by doing it. You can’t find tutorials for the kind of stuff I do. I think that’s how you do something original – you just do it differently from anyone else.

For those who typically expect clothing designs to come from fabrics draped over a clothing form, Richters’ approach is a little hard to grasp. “I think about how to get a certain silhouette, then I get out my dress form and modeling clay and build the shape I want. I basically sculpt the dress,” he explains. He makes a clay mold, then casts it in silicon covered with an inner layer of mesh. This provides the stability and shape needed to create wearable garments.

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Design by Dan Richters

Dan Richter

The result is highly visual pieces that look like a cross between evening wear and a sci-fi movie. Clothes cling and move with the body like a second skin. Maybe it’s because they are, in a way. “Silicon is very malleable and mobile. It’s my favorite material,” says Richters, adding that he searched myriad fabric stores for a material that would allow him to create whatever he wanted, but to no avail. “Then I walked into a hardware store and discovered silicon. It’s what you use to caulk your windows, and I started experimenting with it.

It became clear that Richters couldn’t have people wearing window putty. “It smells awful!” he exclaims. “And you must ventilate properly when using it.” He then discovered a brand of silicone used in the film industry to make prostheses. “It’s certified safe for the skin. It is safe for the people who wear it and for me who works with it,” he says.

This is not a traditional way of making clothes. But again, Richters is not a conventional designer who sells his designs to mass consumers; he sees his collections more as an art exhibition. Her one-of-a-kind dresses are on the runway, maybe on the road for multiple fashion shows in multiple cities, and that’s it.

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Design by Dan Richters

Dan Richter

Coins are sometimes purchased, which he says is a nice validation of their value. They have also been rented for special occasions or borrowed by celebrity stylists for red carpet events. He recently had a dress worn at the Cannes Film Festival, and he sold pieces to a Japanese buyer to put them in a boutique in the famous Harajuku district.

Richters also makes parts to order: “I will only do this if someone specifically commissions me for an idea. We get together and we come up with an idea, and I’m going to make it happen. It is always a unique piece. I’m not into the fabrication mentality at all. I’m more handmade.

Richters says he has always been into various art forms, including sculpture, painting and music. He earned a fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a thesis in painting, and drew a lot of inspiration from fashion, especially 1990s designers like Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler. Her beginnings in fashion design began with a group of friends in Omaha who started hosting their own underground fashion shows, discovering a strong fashion community in the city.

Omaha Fashion Week began in 2008, and Richters has regularly appeared there, as well as Los Angeles Fashion Week. He is currently preparing for his first show at Parker Fashion Week on September 9-10. “It’s cool because I know a lot of the same people involved here in Omaha, and I can tell Parker Fashion Week is really invested and committed to making sure a quality event happens,” he says.

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Fashion designer Dan Richters

Dan Richter

Parker audiences can expect to find otherworldly illuminated patterns in metallic highlights that Richters drew from his interest in the fashions of ancient aristocracy and royalty. “It’s very inspiring artistically to see how they dress in a way that sets them apart from the rest of their societies,” he explains.

However, don’t expect the collection to be on sale at a store near you. Richters isn’t in it for the money. He has a day job as a photographer and videographer to support himself financially. He makes fashion for his own creative satisfaction, which he says sometimes confuses people. “I do things because I want to do them. I’m not really looking to sell them. Honestly, I don’t know how to turn what I do in fashion into a job, and if it became a job, I don’t know if I would still enjoy it.

For him, just being in the studio making art is what makes him happy. He says he strives to develop a new method of making clothes with each collection. “The manufacturing process is my favorite part,” he explains. “When you’re in the studio and having so much fun, time stands still. Then seeing it all come together on the track…I just like the idea of ​​putting something out there that sparks the imagination.

Dan Richters, Parker Fashion Week, 5 p.m. Friday, September 9 and Saturday, September 10, West Main Taproom, 18595 East Main Street, Parker. Find tickets, $75 to $100, and more information at parkerfashionweek.com.

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