Green fashion has come a long way from hemp sacks and garbage bag pencil skirts. And while few statistics exist to show the exact growth of the burgeoning industry, even Vogue magazine admits that it's “much more than a short-term trend.”
So it's no surprise that Carbondale, the Roaring Fork Valley's own personal bastion of sustainability, was ahead of the curve when it launched the annual “Green is the New Black” Fashion Extravaganza in 2009. The fifth iteration of the event, running Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, has doubled in size over the years from one night to two.
“Five years ago, I finally saw a creative group of people in the valley that I could tap into, and I knew that with the right folks on board, we could really grow this thing,” says Amy Kimberly, events director for the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanity, for which the event is a benefit. “We started out doing one night, and now we're up to two shows that sell out every year with a cast of over 100 people involved.”
This year 40 designers — with 35 coming from the Roaring Fork Valley — will showcase their designs on the Carbondale Recreation Center stage.
"It's much funkier, and a fun kind of experience than people's image of skinny models walking down the runway," Kimberly adds. "This show, more than anything, is a celebration of our community, and it's raising funds for a very important organization. It's something that reflects our community.”
Past years have included designs made from everything from used tea bags to old knit caps. But sustainable, or eco, fashion also includes both plant and animal fibers, cellulose fabrics like those from soy, corn, banana, pineapple and beech wood, and recycled or reclaimed fibers that are made from scraps of fabrics collected from clothing factories, which are processed back into short fibers for spinning into new yarn. Both ready-to-wear looks as well as more avant-garde wearable art will be showcased during the event.
“The quality of the designs this year is exceptional,” says Kimberly. “And it just blows every other year away. A lot of these designers have been with us since the beginning, and I've just seen them grow so much in their craft. And I think that really just echoes the growth that is happening in the eco-fashion industry.”
But the “Green is the New Black” Fashion Extravaganza wouldn't be a true Carbondale event without a vaguely hippie twist. And this year that twist comes from the theme of “Myths and Legends.” As Kimberly describes it, myths and legends were used to describe the environment and natural phenomena long before science provided more fact-based answers. And so, she says, the theme ties the event back to the environment in a very visual and ephemeral way.
Only some of the designers adhered to the theme, but the production — a much better word for the event than fashion show — will explore the myths and legends of various cultures with appearances from the Hopi Spider Woman, Hathor the Egyptian goddess of the skies, and Neptune, representing the seas. The show will also feature music, theatrics, dance by the Co-motion Modern Dance Troupe, and a multi-media visual presentation that brings the theme to life.
New this year, the event will feature a designer trunk sale following each fashion show. Racks of sustainable items from as far away as Los Angeles will be available for purchase alongside a silent auction.
“It's just another opportunity to support designers working consciously to create a healthier environment locally and globally,” says Kimberly.
General seating to both shows is available for $25 for CCAH members, $30 for non-members. VIP seating is available for $90 and $100, respectively. Each evening a dessert reception sponsored by Whole Foods Market, Pan and Fork Catering and Aspen Candy Company will kick off the evening starting at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m. A martini bar as well as beer and wine will be available throughout the evening.
‘Green is the New Black’ Fashion Extravaganza
Presented by the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities
Friday, March 8 & Saturday, March 9, 7 p.m.
Carbondale Recreation Center