The pandemic dismissed the Telluride AIDS Benefit’s iconic Fashion Show Gala last year not just at another time, but at another location.
Covid-19 forced the creative talent behind one of the winter events, if not the most popular, to push themselves to the limit to make the show happen. The results were skyrocketing, literally: the show was held at Telluride Regional Airport, literal runway model runway.
“It was an outrageous success,” recalled Jessica Galbo, Executive Director of TAB.
The “only fashion show of its kind in the world” and the highest in North America (TEX’s altitude is 9,078 feet), “was a great challenge” to do.
“We loved it,” said Galbo.
Indeed, the forces behind TAB appreciate enormous challenges. And fast as you can say, “micron variant”, here’s another one: the increase in Covid cases has forced some changes to the TAB fundraiser, set for February 17-19 in its usual (winter) and local season (the Telluride Conference Center).
“There will be limited participation this year,” Galbo said. “We usually have 500” in the audience. “This time it will be about 300”. Audience size is the only thing smaller than usual – the word certainly doesn’t apply to the ambition and enthusiasm that are the hallmarks of TAB’s signature event. Auditions for his show, for example, took place at the Palm Theater last weekend.
“We had a high turnout, the highest we’ve ever had,” said Galbo. “We had to make some tough decisions. There were double the number of people compared to the number of places we have available “.
Just like at last year’s benefit (which was only about six months ago), seats at this year’s party will be in capsule form.
“People like that concept,” Galbo said. Pods allow for a “much more customer-centric experience”. For those who choose the VIP service, “drinks will be brought to your table”, plus a pre-selected assortment of snacks and appetizers if you wish. “You don’t even have to get up.”
The artistic director of the show is Molly Wickwire-Sante; choreographer (and assistant director) Diina Tamm is expected to arrive in Telluride from her base in New York City this weekend.
“Diina’s first experience in Telluride was modeling for the show,” said Galbo. “I know that she and Molly are up for the challenge. I’m sure we will face challenges, ”she added. “We will have the same number of models as before. Everyone must be vaccinated. We are as safe as possible. If we keep the same number of models, we hope they can cover each other ”if anyone tests positive. “I’m sure we will face challenges in terms of personnel, just like everyone else.”
The mechanics of the show will present other challenges. The catwalk, for example, is an innovation: it’s shaped like an X. “It’s completely different and very exciting,” said Galbo. “The first time in 29 years that the catwalk has taken a different shape.”
The anticipation for fashion week is also skyrocketing: around 75 percent of tickets for the Saturday show sold out almost as soon as they went on sale.
“I want to express my gratitude to the community for coming together to help the less fortunate,” said Galbo. “It is really difficult for everyone right now, regardless of your position or economic level. At the same time, we have to celebrate ourselves, ”he added. “We have to learn to live with this virus as safely as possible, but we also have to live with it. Our vulnerable population is affected by two pandemics “, Covid and HIV,” and in some cases HIV testing has dropped by 80% “due to the pandemic.” So we can’t really take our feet off the gas right now. “, summed up Galbo,” and this is not my style “.
To find out more about TAB beneficiaries and to purchase tickets for Fashion Week shows, visit tellurideaidsbenefit.org.