CARBONDALE, Colorado - Imagination is a word taken seriously in Carbondale. If artists build it, people will come.
In Carbondale, that just seems to work.
Keeping with that mindset, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH) continues to build on the success of its large-scale spring event, the Green is the New Black Fashion Extravaganza. The show, themed with myths and legends this year, takes place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Carbondale Recreation Center and supports CCAH scholarships and programming for artists of all ages.
"I think we have a great show here," said CCAH executive director Amy Kimberly, at Wednesday's dress rehearsal. "The clothes are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, and you all look great in them," she said to the models.
The fashion show is a two-night fundraising showcase involving more than 150 volunteers - 70 of which are models - who dedicate their time to support the arts in the valley. Green is the New Black offers VIP tickets, a pre-show dessert reception, martini bar, silent auction, mermaids, Greek gods, mythical creatures and a designer trunk sale following each show. Designer Tawnya Black, a winner in last year's show in the creative couture category, said her designs follow this year's theme by exploring the forces of light and dark.
"We're pushing the boundaries of fashion for sure," she said. "I'm not done with experimenting with the themes. It's challenging, and how cool is it that we can be a part of that?"
Kat Rich, a mixed media artist and longtime volunteer for CCAH, said she can't miss a year modeling in the show.
"I love the explosion of creativity," she said. "It's just an amazing collection of community creativity."
In the last four years of the show, Rich has modeled a variety of sustainability-focused fashions on the catwalk. From a bikini made with repurposed fabric to a Henry the VIII-inspired couture gown, Rich is always willing to wow the crowd with original designs by local artists.
"It's empowering," she said. "It's the weekend in Carbondale where we can strut our stuff."
In its first year participating in the show, Harrington Smith Florists created a line of clothing inspired by Henry the VIII and his six wives, using recycled materials. In fashion lines such as these, Kimberly encouraged the models to play the part of the story told through the clothes after Wednesday's walk-through.
"Each of you, think of the dress or outfit you are wearing and show the clothes' personalities," she said. "Let us feel the clothing."
First-time models Meagan Goodwin, Shanti Gruber and Marilyn Lindquist will be joining their fashion designer friends and Starlettes bandmates, Ananda Banc and Nicole Miller, for Miller's Green is the New Black fashion line premiere. The group will model Miller's original dresses while singing The Beatles' "Because."
"It's much harder that I thought it would be, being on stage walking as a model and singing," Goodwin said. "I'm used to being on stage singing, and I usually don't get nervous, but this is different."
Gruber said the energy the singers and Miller's fashions bring to the stage will make an impact.
"I just thought it was so cool we would be modeling and singing a capella," she said. "I figure The Starlettes can do this. Once the five of us get together, we become a force to be reckoned with up there."
Valley local Matte Curry, a fashion show veteran, enjoys the spotlight that comes with volunteering each year as a model.
"Well I love everyone looking up at all the models because we're drop-dead gorgeous," he said. "I do love meeting the new people, and I love the designs. It's just very different, just like me."
Peter Gilbert, a model in his fourth year, shares Curry's sentiment on the show's camaraderie.
"I do it to meet new people. Yes, it's for a good cause," he said. "But selfishly I like to meet new people. It's just a lot of fun. I love how the theme of the show is ever-present, and it links together with the story in the beginning and the dancing throughout."
To help drive the myths and legends theme, show producer/directors Kimberly, Deborah Colley and Laura Stover are enlisting the help of projection mapping technology to bring life to mythical creatures. Basalt-based Alchemy Audio Visual Concert Systems is behind bringing this state-of-the-art, dynamic video display to the Green is the New Black runway.
"It's a new computer technology that allows you to project images, and they can be moving images, to the stage," Kimberly said. "The imagery wraps around whatever is 3D."
Kimberly said Beyonce used projection mapping in her Super Bowl halftime show, and the technology has been used at the Grammys and the Academy Awards this year.
"It's just a way to further the creativity," she said. "You can have birds fly across a set or have snake go down a hole. Anything you can imagine."
Only in Carbondale.