Going back to the future at Green is the New Black
Post Independent Arts Writer
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Whatever you do, don’t call Green is the New Black a fashion show.
Amy Kimberly is sitting in her office at the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH) – ironically, wearing all black. She’s remarkably calm considering that she’s in the midst of planning Carbondale’s Green is the New Black Fashion Show … er … Extravaganza.
“Don’t say it’s a fashion show,” Kimberly said to this arts writer. “It really is so much more than that. It’s a multi-media extravaganza. There is something for everyone.”
Although the extravaganzas aren’t meant for kids under 15, Kimberly said men enjoy the event’s theatrical performance art as much as women do.
“Men love it, too,” she said with a smile.
This is the third year that Melanie Finan of Carbondale has modeled and participated in the event. She is a clothing designer and a member of a newly formed textile arts group called the Carbondale Sew-Op.
“It’s so inspirational, so touching and so profound to see how the community comes together for this event,” she said. “All artists really shine – in video, dance, music, wearable art, and choreography. And the models really express who they are in their walk and attitude.”
To add to the spectacle, the Carbondale Recreation Center becomes an out-of-valley experience.
“From the moment you walk in, it feels like we’re in New York,” Kimberly said. “It’s very urban, very hip.”
Now in its fourth year, Green is the New Black is at the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center for two nights of fun and fundraising tonight and Saturday. The ecologically focused evenings generate money for CCAH for arts education.
“Friday night we pull out all the stops with gift bags, special runway seating, a martini bar, a dance party, and more, so we don’t encourage kids attending,” said Kimberly. “The second night doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, though it features the fashion show. That’s fine for kids 15 and older.”
This year’s “Back to the Future” theme shows that, in many cases, everything old is new again.
“We’re not talking about futuristic fashion, per se,” said Kimberly. “We are looking at ways that films and books in the past interpreted where we’d be in the future. Then we’ll show some of the ways we’re making conscious choices to do better for our Earth.”
Concepts such as today’s sewing cooperatives and reusing fabrics and materials come from the past.
“A lot of sustainable products being made today are based on old techniques,” said Maura Masters, who coordinates CCAH public relations. “For example, sewing bees [groups of seamstresses who meet together to sew] are coming back in fashion. They may be considered futuristic, but the concept is retro.”
At the core of the event is a focus on the use of eco-friendly design and materials. Clothing designers – who come from the local area as well as several Western states – apply to CCAH participate. They are selected based on their original and fresh use of reclaimed and sustainable materials in their designs.
“Sustainable fabrics mean those that are made organically,” said Kimberly. Much of the cotton on the market is grown using pesticides that are detrimental to the environment, she noted.
“We also promote the use of organic hemp,” she said. “We have a designer out of Oakland, bringing high fashion hemp silk wedding gowns.”
Olivia Pevec of Carbondale’s Aloha Cyclery is a local designer who will be featured during the two nights. She has turned used bike parts such as old tires into fashions that will be showcased at the event.
And recycling existing clothing is another way to go green.
“We support looking differently at second-hand clothes, such as recycling old sweaters and cashmere. Fabrics such as polyester take lifetimes to break down in landfills,” said Kimberly.
If you have a preconceived notion about what this event is all about, it’s probably best to leave it at the door. What you won’t find are a bunch of rail-thin, six-foot models with sucked-in cheeks. The call for models back in January stressed diversity.
“Looking for all ages, gender, shapes and sizes,” read the notice.
The extravaganza’s uniqueness is important to Kimberly. She is well versed in entertainment event production of this kind. Before moving to the Roaring Fork Valley, she was one of the first directors of the annual Telluride AIDS Benefit, which began in 1985. It, like Green is the New Black, involves a fashion show, music, film, an art auction, party and a trunk sale.
“Ironically, Aspen Fashion Week is next week,” said Kimberly, smiling, about the Bentley-sponsored event held at the St. Regis hotel, among other Aspen-based venues.
“But Green is the New Black is the hottest thing going, and we have the most fun!”
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