Green is the New Black fashion show returns to Carbondale, takes you ‘underground’ |

Green is the New Black fashion show returns to Carbondale, takes you ‘underground’

Aerial performers rehearse at the Carbondale Community and Recreation Center on Wednesday in preparation for the seventh annual Green is the New Black fashion show.
Colleen O’Neil/Post Independent |

IF You Go...

Who: Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities

What: Green is the New Black fashion show

When: Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Where: Carbondale Recreation Center

How Much: General tickets $40, VIP tickets $100 available at (limited number of $25 standing room only tickets available on first come, first served basis at the door)

Last year, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities’ Green is the New Black fashion show took you down the rabbit hole. This year, it’s showing you what’s underground.

The 7th annual fashion show, on Friday and Saturday, features 50 volunteer models, 26 local, regional and national designers, 15 performing artists and a handful of local fine and graphic artists. The event raises funds for CCAH’s arts education programs and attracts more than 1,500 audience members from the Western Slope.

“It’s a wonderful, collaborative experience,” said Amy Kimberly, executive director of the CCAH. “People bring the best they’ve got to it. It grows each year with the talents people bring to it.”

This year’s theme — “UNDERGROUND” — was thought up by the CCAH’s Laura Stover.

“She was inspired by a little kids’ book,” Kimberly said. “Her original vision was about this lifestyle that starts underground, and they eventually end in the light.”

That initial idea was taken in a slightly different direction as more people provided input; now, “underground” also references punk, revolution and the modern human underground experience.

Green is the New Black has grown over the past decade from a street show to an art experience. The very first CCAH fashion show was called “The Fashion of Politics” and happened before the 2004 presidential election.

“It started with an event out on the street at one of our free concerts,” Kimberly said. “A bunch of locals created their fashions out of upcycled and sustainable goods.”

Over the years, the show moved to the Carbondale Community School and then to its current home, the Carbondale Recreation Center, as it’s needed to accommodate larger audiences. It incorporates dance, performance art and projection art on top of showing off upcycled and sustainable fashions.

New this year is a partnership with The Whole Works, a contract clothing manufacturing facility that recently opened in Rifle. Employing women trained by Gar-Co Sewing Works, the public benefit corporation aims to provide full-time jobs for those transitioning from federal assistance.

The Whole Works did not manufacture any of the clothing in this year’s fashion show because of timing, but it is sponsoring the Designer Challenge, which awards participating designers with a Best Overall award of $500, a Most Fashion Forward Award of $250 and a Most Original Award of $250.

“I used to be a designer in Green is the New Black,” said Sadye Harvey, a co-founder of The Whole Works. “I became involved just from being in the valley, from knowing Amy, things like that. We wanted to support the designers in the show and let them know we were there for them.”

The Whole Works will have a table set up in the lobby of the fashion show to get information out to designers about its services, and it will host an open house and factory tour from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

“Designers can come check it out and see if The Whole Works can meet their needs,” Harvey said.

One Green is the New Black designer who plans to take her clothes beyond the fashion show is Melanie Finan, who is getting ready to launch her brand, Soma Threads.

“I’m just growing each year, more and more,” Finan said. “I’ve grown the most in making clothes that are more ready to wear.”

Finan participated as a model in the 2010 fashion show as a designer the next year.

“It sparked an interest in performance that I had let lie dormant,” Finan said. “I’d forgotten how fun it is to be up on stage. And I got a lot of positive response from the community, and it fueled my desire to continue on designing clothes and performing.”

In a way, Green is the New Black is an event you’d expect to find in a big city. But its message of sustainability and cultivating local talent makes perfect sense for the valley, Kimberly said.

“I think Carbondale is a great home for it because it’s a lifestyle that we lead,” Kimberly said. “We walk our talk here.”

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