When visiting Carbondale last spring, I was prepared for great skiing, delicious food, and typical off-slope entertainment, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the impact and imagination a small mountain community could have over the broader world of fashion.
I used to live in New York City, where fashion, culture, music, and art seemed to permeate every street corner. Whether you are waiting for the subway or passing through Lincoln Center, there is an underlying artistic rhythm that keeps the city humming day by day. Here in Colorado, I tend to use my free time for hiking, biking, skiing, and other outdoor sports. It is hard to justify heading inside when the magnitude of the mountains impress such grandeur on daily life. In fact, since moving West, arts and culture have simply taken an unintentional back seat to my outdoor lifestyle—and that’s OK. But this lack of regular creative exposure gives artistic moments more of an impact when they do make their way into my experience.
Denver and Aspen have become the go-to fashion locales in this corner of the west, yet little Carbondale down the valley from Aspen, has one of the most eco-fashion forward movements in the state, with its Green is the New Black fashion extravaganza.
Green is the New Black is all at once a fashion show, performance art, and multimedia experience happening in on March 14-16. The 11th annual show will launch the small mountain town into a big city night of entertainment. The eco-conscious fashion show attracts local and national designers, is presented by a mix of local and professional models, athletes, and performance artists, and all of the proceeds benefit youth education in the Roaring Fork Valley.
When I attended last year, I was filled with eager anticipation. Entering the performance space I encountered an eerie darkness partnered with festive lighting that created an atmosphere in keeping with the show’s theme, “Supernatural.” I wove my way through the myriad of artists, locals, critics, and models, and finally landed in my front row seat. Over the next two hours I was confronted by raw beauty, unbridled creativity, incredible physical strength and stamina, and above all, stunning designer garments—all from sustainable materials and construction. I found myself surrendering to the otherworldly environment and was moved (at times to tears), by the diverse community of artists. As the show concluded, I pondered the unique combination of art forms that mingled on this small mountain stage. And while I couldn’t find the words at the time, I left that weekend, bewitched and beguiled by the unexpected sophistication presented by this community of mountain lovers.
Where to stay
Over the last ten years, Carbondale has become one of the most sought-after destinations in the Roaring Fork Valley. Its small-town charm is met with new businesses and concepts, making it as enjoyable as Aspen, but without the crowds.
The Marble Distillery has brought sustainability and creativity to the west end of town with its distillery, Marble Bar, and Distillery Inn. With a major nod to sustainability practices in production and a swanky sensibility, the bar and inn make the perfect basecamp for a visit to Carbondale. The inn only has five guest rooms and is modern, eco-friendly and takes a fresh approach to luxury travel with a less-is-more approach to service. Check in occurs at the Marble Bar where casual lingering over cocktails is encouraged. The rooms are sophisticated without feeling stuffy with personal community touches found throughout in the amenities.
Where to dine
Carbondale is a hub of culinary diversity. Start your day right with a stop at the Village Smithy. This classic diner offers traditional breakfast favorites, (some with a southwestern flair), all without the side of grease. For authentic Italian cuisine, enjoy a leisurely, European-style meal at Allegria on Main Street. Here, a carefully curated wine list accompanies a rotating menu of seasonal favorites. This quaint spot provides friendly service and exceptional food in a laid-back, familial environment. For a meal that packs a punch, head to Phat Thai where flavor reigns. Share a collection of small plates to taste the diversity and freshness that they are known for, or splurge on a delectable rice or noodle bowl. And for traditional farm-to-table fare, head to Pan and Fork. This restaurant offers tasty, fresh meals along with a stunning view of Mount Sopris and the surrounding valley.
Be sure to set aside some time to check out the soul-inspiring and invigorating True Nature Healing Arts center. Experience true self-acceptance at a yoga class with one of their experienced guides or walk their healing garden if you are short on time. The center also boasts a full-service spa with a diverse treatment menu to tackle whatever ailments you may be harboring. Finally, make the short drive to Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs. Open to the public during the day, the ranch provides a hot springs environment without the crowds that plague so many of Colorado’s accessible springs. The Ranch has three pools with varying temperatures and an adult pool to keep kid play at bay.
Green Is the New Black Fashion Show
Tickets: VIP, $100 (Includes drinks, runway seating and dessert reception); general admission, $30
The Distillery Inn
150 Main Street
Carbondale, CO 81623
Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs
Redstone, CO 81623
Jordan Martindell explores hidden pockets of Colorado looking for her next best adventure. While she spends most of her time outside in Boulder, she loves any excuse get dolled up and head out for a hearty dose of Colorado’s many diverse cultural offerings.
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