Alchemy: the word conjures mystery, magic and a sense of wonder. Or maybe skepticism. But make no mistake about it - matter can indeed be transformed, as the Glam Trash Fashion Show has been reminding us since 2001.
And this year's show promises another glitter-filled extravaganza, said Sara Basehart of Seconds Eco Store. "This free public art event is edgy yet totally family-friendly, glamorous, fabulous and loaded with strut and swagger - and, yes, glitter. Mucho glitter!"
So plan this Saturday (Aug. 31) to be on the historic Taos Plaza at 5 p.m. when entrants take to the runway in their fashions of alchemic upcycling, as last year's grand prize winner, Natalina, coined the trend. Her winning entry combined inner tubes and a discarded tent, highlighted by wings of kombucha scoby, and it was unquestionably glam. Who can even imagine what this year will have in store?
"Every year we get more entries, and especially from kids and men," Basehart continued. "As much as the audience anticipates what's coming from behind the curtain, so do we. The surprise and the spontaneity of the show just can't be beat. It's part of a bigger community movement, a sense of joy about Taos and a true celebration."
Expect a saucy, whimsical mix as "art, recycling and fashion combine into a glamtastic all-ages, nonprofit annual event" that celebrates "creativity while bringing up issues of waste and consumption," according to the Glam Trash Fashion Show's Facebook page. Kids 12 and under, teens from 13-19 and adults over 20 will be competing in those categories for an array of prizes, which are supported by the event's fundraising and partners, including Pieces and Guerrilla Graphix.
"The grand prize is $250, teens can win $100, and the kids are eligible for a $50 prize," Basehart said. "The kids are especially fun to watch. Backstage, they're terrified of stepping out but, once they do, they're brilliant. They walk with so much confidence and are the embodiment of style."
Nick Hans and friends will rock the show with a musical backdrop of funked-up, bluesy, New Orleans-style street jazz, while photographer Frederick "Rick" Aragon and videographer Jon Vigil capture all the newsworthy moments from this epic production. "We're welcoming Winston Woods as our emcee this year - the sax-playing artist and dancer who moves like he's made of water. What's not to love about this lineup?" Basehart wondered.
The "we" to which Basehart refers includes the founders of Glam Trash, Nicole Kowalski and Jean Nichols. "I joined with them six or seven years ago, but these two ladies are its heart and soul," said Basehart. She noted, with regret, that Kowalski will be out of town for this year's show, and that Nichols is retiring. "This will be Jean's last Glam Trash and we will miss her mightily. There are no words to describe how hard these two have worked," on what has become an iconic late-summer Taos event.
Basehart noted the show will also be bidding farewell to grand dame Katy George, who is relocating. "She has been so fabulous - her time spent in Paris shows in her every gorgeous move. We hope everyone comes out to express their thanks to two of the pillars of Glam Trash."
After moving from different venues, including the John Dunn Shops and the Historic Taos County Courthouse, the event lands at the Taos Plaza this year.
"We're excited to be returning to the plaza, thanks to the continuing commitment from the town [of Taos] and [Facilities and Special Events Director] Mitch Miller, who have our eternal gratitude. The Glam Trash fashion show would not exist without the support we've received from them."
Glam Trash will use the plaza's gazebo as both its staging area and showcase. After the show, Basehart noted, the town will be sponsoring a concert from the same venue. "Watch for it - I heard it's a pretty amazing Cuban band." Sounds like a perfect Labor Day weekend outing.
Kowalski and Nichols, both of Peñasco, became fast friends during their time working together at the Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort. "A number of things converged to open our eyes to the enormous amount of discarded clothing materials," Nichols said last year. Sharing a ski lift, they said, "Why not?" to the possibility of a recycled fashion show.
In addition to their shared environmental concerns, Kowalski, Nichols and Basehart likewise share a broader commitment to the community at large. Kowalski is a dedicated teacher at Taos Integrated School of the Arts, and Nichols has been long associated with Art for the Heart and its focus upon wellness through creativity, which earned a nod from the United Way as a center for nonprofit excellence.
Basehart's establishment, Seconds Eco Store, has become a center for Taos' monthly First Friday walks through the John Dunn Shops. Locals and visitors are attracted to the extended shopping hours, food carts, vendors and entertainment that have become a mainstay in the quaint shopping district.
So, set aside this Saturday to support our community heroines, and enjoy an afternoon full of the collective artistic exuberance for which Taos is known. And, while you're at it, sprinkle yourself with a little -- or a lot -- of glitter.
Details on the Glam Trash Fashion Show can be found on their Facebook page, or stop by Seconds Eco Store, 120 Bent Street, Suite D, or call (575) 770-7790.