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“Green is the New Black” fashion show amplifies community in Carbondale

Courtesy, CCAH.

The Green is the New Black fashion show in Carbondale is in its eighth year. The two-day event starts tomorrow. For first-time and experienced models alike, the event is one that means a lot for community members. Marcia Flaks has been a fan of the event since she moved to Carbondale from New York a few years ago, but she got a little bit more involved after a visit from her daughter.

At the suggestion of her daughter, she got involved in the fashion show.


“The next thing I know, they’re measuring my waist and hips and whatever else,” Flaks says. “The next thing I know, I was auditioning.”


Her daughter said the event was as good as Broadway. But Marcia wasn’t on board at first. The idea of modeling was not something that had crossed her mind. Now she is part of something bigger than she ever could have imagined.

At the Green is the New Black Fashion show, models show off clothing made from all sorts of recycled and sustainable materials.The event is a fundraiser that supports youth education. Amy Kimberly, the current executive director of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, brought the idea over from a similar position she had in Telluride.


“I saw the power of the runway and how you can utilize that format to put forth a lot of other kinds of expression,” Kimberly says.


The fashion is all environmentally conscious. The cloth could be recycled. It could be responsibly sourced. Last year, there was a dress made out of an airport windsock. Lucy Kessler got to wear it.


“It was completely bizarre and unusual and somehow the designer had turned it into an evening gown,” Kessler says.


The event has become a community staple. Kessler has been a part of the event for three years. She says Green is the New Black is right up there with Mountain Fair and Potato Days. In fact, the event was one of the first things Kessler saw when she came to Carbondale.


“It’s amazing seeing the transformation that takes place,” says Kessler. “People think it’s just a fashion show, but it’s so much more than that.”


In addition to the runway fashion events, there is dancing and projections.The thing  Kessler misses, though, is actually being able to see what happens on stage.


“My only regret is that when you’re in the show, you don’t get to see the show,” says Kessler. “You’re backstage for a lot of it.”


When the event started, it was a tiny show in the Carbondale Community School. Now more than 500 people fill the Carbondale Rec Center, and people come from as far as Vail to participate. The first night of this year’s event (Friday) is already sold out. Kimberly says it’s a sign of the event’s evolution.

“Every year the designers get more and more involved,” Kimberly says.

Patrick Fort grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, nurturing a love for ice hockey and deli sandwiches. After moving to Colorado in 2010 to attend the University of Colorado to study music, Patrick discovered his love for journalism. In 2013, Patrick created and hosted the award-winning radio program Colorado Stories, a news program that covered CU and the surrounding community. An avid mountain and road cyclist, Patrick also referees youth ice hockey. He loves '60s pop bands and and trying new recipes ranging from milk-braised carnitas to flourless cakes.