Covid Is Not In Fashion


Telluride Aids Benefit, Palm Theatre

Emilin Carias and Janette Calvo

Throughout the years, the Telluride community has enjoyed watching our amazing models cruise the runway for the Telluride Aids Benefit. But now, since the pandemic started, the TAB fashion show has to be filmed. Every year, Telluride looks forward to attending the fashion show. Ever since the pandemic, Telluride has been locked down to prevent any more cases. However, the pandemic didn’t stop the TAB student fashion show from hitting the runway. They found a way for everyone to see the fashion show. Our beautiful fashion show creators, Sophia Watkins and Bella Galbo, and other directors, have brought in a professional filmmaker to record the show. 


 The student fashion show has been performed since 2000 and this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the show. In 2000, Sandy McLaughlin started the fashion show for the high school. She thought that it would be a brilliant idea for the students to be part of the fashion show. The first iteration of TAB was free and now it has become an aids benefit donation. Every year there are auditions for those students who wish to participate in the show as models. Once the fashion show directors have their models ready, they practice for a month and a half to perfect the rhythm and choreography of their performance. A month and a half of rehearsals culminate in the big show that we have all been waiting for. Tickets cost ten dollars for students and twenty dollars for adults. The privilege of reserving a special table next to the runway will set you back $160. 


 The structure of the show has remained the same every year. Select clothing stores in Telluride lend some of their most striking outfits for use in the performance. Obviously, they don’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts, they also benefit by self-promoting items in the now-prestigious annual TAB. Once the group is assigned to a specific store brand it is the job of the seniors and juniors to decide which song and dances will complement the clothing (pending approval from Principal Kimble). 


Despite the structure remaining consistent since its beginnings, this year the audience’s experience of the show will be vastly different. The reason, as you may have guessed, is Covid.  Sophia Watkins, a twelfth-grade student who has been involved in the fashion show since her freshman year, spoke to us about the difficulties of carrying out the event during the pandemic. “When we did auditions we really didn’t know if the show was going to be filmed or live”, Watkins remembers.  “It was not until four weeks out from our normal performance date that we knew the show could happen at all.” As aficionados of TAB will know, the big show always takes place the third week of February. However, this year, since the filming process takes more time to prepare, the final version will not be available until mid-way of March. Covid restrictions have resulted in the same disadvantages now familiar to fans of professional sports: “The hardest part of the show being filmed was the loss of energy from the audience”, Watkins admits.  “Obviously, COVID was a huge challenge in itself, but we were really lucky to have a cast that worked around quarantines and safety measures.”


All of us have learned over the last twelve months that the pandemic has been a big challenge and has altered our conception of a “normal life”. And yet, it has also taught us how to adapt to adverse situations. The decision to film the fashion show is just one more example of how as a community we adjust and survive. It’s hard to disagree with Watkins’ optimistic conclusion: “I was obviously disappointed that my final year of TAB was not going to be live, as I know how magical and high-energy our normal shows have been. However, I was mostly happy that we could have a show at all – even if it was filmed.” This is the year of Covid not the year of “No-vid”.

 You can still watch the fashion show film, mid-way through March 2021.