Sam Stableford caught in his element during a dance rehearsal for GITNB. Photo by Will Sardinsky

The runway will rise from the ashes for the long awaited 12th annual Green is the New Black (GITNB). The 2020 version of “Mirror Mirror” was abruptly canceled on the eve of opening night when COVID-19 cases proliferated across the state and people took refuge inside their homes.

Fast forward three years, the inception of “Mirror Mirror” would still recognize its reflection, yet transformed. 

“I would say that the skeleton of the 2020 show is the same,” Amy Kimberly, founder and director of GITNB, told The Sopris Sun. “It’s amazing that we are here [three years later],” she continued. “And, It’s also somewhat of a gift to have already created something and be able to delve in just a little deeper.” 

As its moniker infers, GITNB is rooted in environmental preservation. 

“It’s surprising how many popular and mainstream designers are slow in committing to sustainability, but it is creeping into the fashion industry in a good way,” Kimberly is quoted in a recent press release. “Lucky for us, we have many talented designers in this valley, and state, who are devoted to upcycle and reuse for their lines, and it’s exciting to see what they create.”

Annabelle Stableford strikes a pose during a fashion rehearsal. Photo by Will Sardinsky

Mirroring mentors

Some of this year’s younger participants have grown up admiring the creativity of their mentors and now embrace the opportunity to work alongside them. 

Growing up, Annabelle Stableford and her brother, Sam, took advantage of the creative opportunities offered for youth in Carbondale. Sam, 15, always loved to dance and found himself busting moves with Cirque du Sopris from the age of 7 — even participating in the youth troupe’s very own fashion show. 

Sam noted that it was Kimberly who suggested that he graduate early into the adult fashion show. The audience will see Sam dancing — of course — and walking in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” fashion line. 

“I’m really excited to be a part of this line,” Sam stated. “It’s dance, it’s sass, it’s everything I love to do.” 

Sam also teaches a kids’ hip-hop dancing class through Dance Initiative, alongside his fellow Roaring Fork High School student Ava Montemayor. 

“I’m hoping I can take it [dance] further into the future, but what comes will come,” Sam modestly stated. 

Annabelle, 17, is nearing the end of her junior year, also at Roaring Fork. In 2019, she performed during Sopris Soarer’s pre-show to the fashion show and was set to do so again in 2020. This year, Kimberly figured it was time for Anabelle to level up as well. She will walk in three fashion lines and dance alongside her brother. 

Back in elementary school, Annabelle designed junior fashion lines for Cirque du Sopris. “That was a brief two or three year period,” she said, describing her fashion creations as “kind of interesting.” 

“One was kind of a short ‘skort’ thing — shorts with this long, flowing, white tail fabric,” and a layered gold-trim blouse, she explained. She recalled wearing the look to school to test the design among her peers. 

Approaching adolescence, Annabelle gravitated toward aerial performance with Sopris Soarers. You also may have seen her flying through the air during a First Friday event. 

She praised her longtime mentor, Carrie Vickers, as well as Stacey Everson, who founded Sopris Soarers. Vickers regularly performs in GITNB, and Annabelle said it’s amazing to share a stage with someone she’s always looked up to. 

Full circle 

Chloe Brand (Cooper) graduated from Roaring Fork in 2016, then went off to fashion design school at Pratt Institute in New York. 

“I was super lucky to grow up in Carbondale and experience its art scene,” Brand said. 

Even back in high school, Brand was provided the opportunity to show off her designs in GITNB. And, because she comes from a nautically-inclined family, her earlier designs were known for incorporating torn pieces from sails. 

For this year’s GITNB, Brand is reviving a line that was originally intended for her senior thesis project but never made it down the runway due to the pandemic — that is, until now. 

“I have pulled a half-finished collection out of the dusty old bins and am shooting for my ‘full-circle moment,’” the designer explained. “I’m adding some new pieces, mixing up some looks and trying to finish up what I have, closing this New York chapter in a way.” 

While fashion school often pushed the use of processed materials, Brand’s designs continue to honor the ecological element of GITNB, incorporating upcycled and recycled materials. 

This year’s line mostly consists of knitted work. Brand uses a “fully finished” approach where she knits “each piece exactly to the shape it needs to be, so you don’t end up with any waste.” She added that about 50% of the yarn is reclaimed. 

Brand recently launched her own online store, 

“I’d like to give a big thank you to Carbondale, especially Amy [Kimberly] and Laura [Stover], for supporting me and believing in me since I was 14; and letting me do this and figure it all out with them,” Brand concluded. 

“Mirror Mirror” opens Thursday, March 9 at the Carbondale Recreation Center and continues through March 11. Tickets are all sold out at this time.