DENVER — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was haunting Duane Topping, a veteran who served in Iraq.

He said sewing and fashion helped him escape a world of darkness and anger associated with the mental illness.

Organizers selected Topping to showcase his designs at the Lumenati in northeast Denver Sunday night. It is the opening show for Denver Fashion Week.

“To be here is such a tremendous accomplishment. When we first started in fashion, this was the first show we’d ever been to,” Topping said. “The biggest issue is you have to find your peace… just find your passion and that’s where your peace is.”

For Topping, that passion was sewing.

“This is how I fight these demons. This is my tool bag,” he said.

Never did the he think he’d be opening the show. His wife said debuting at the show demonstrates that its organizers have faith in Topping.

“They believe in your message. They believe in your story,” said Jamie Topping, who is also Topping Designs CEO.

Denver Fashion Week provides a showcase for both local designers like Topping and hometown superstars like Mondo Guerra known for his appearance on Project Runway.

“I feel that you can be a designer anywhere and be just as fabulous as living in New York City or L.A. or living in Paris,” Guerra said.

Both Guerra and Topping proving that’s true.

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