Thursday, February 18, 2010

TAB Is Getting Older – And It’s Getting Better

TELLURIDE – Every year the Telluride public asks, “How is the AIDS Benefit Fashion Show going to top last year’s show?”

This year TAB has gone L.A., bringing in a new director, Scott Grossman, and a designer and stylist, Karen Zambos, both from Los Angeles.

Also new this year: TAB Executive Director Stash Wislocki, who says, “We have a demanding audience, they always want bigger, faster and more exciting. We are always striving to keep it fresh.”

Having never before seen the venerable TAB fashion show, now in its 17th year, Grossman came in blind, charged simply with creating a show that’s “better than last year.” He quickly added about 15 models to the show, bringing the already stage-busting total to 50. And judging from this week’s eye-popping rehearsals, the man is undaunted by his task.

Director Grossman has stepped up from his past work with the Miss U.S.A and Miss Teen U.S.A. pageants – which might explain the 50 models. He has also been the head chorographer for the Miss Universe pageant for 15 years.

For TAB, Grossman has taken the theme “Out of Your Comfort Zone, Step Out of the Box” and literally run with it. Or as one model sheepishly, and anonymously confesses, “I never thought I would be doing some of these things. Not that they are over-the-top racy – just incredibly tricky.” Considering that all of the models are regular Telluride folks, (and one super hottie from Montrose), the amount of choreography and action demonstrated in each scene is amazing.

For the last three weeks, the group has rehearsed at the Peaks (who once again gave the models memberships to the gym, and, judging by the zero-percent body fat on the runway, they have been using it. Or perhaps it’s just the long, jam packed rehearsals with a perfectionist director).

“It is exciting working with locals. I am not scared of challenge, it is just a matter of adapting, looking for the best that they have to offer,” says Grossman. “I am not going make them look silly. We take what they have to give the show and embellish it.”

Via Grossman’s agent, TAB patriarch Ron Gilmer contacted the openly gay director about taking on this year’s show, and he immediately understood the significance of the opportunity. “This cause speaks to me,” he says. “I have lost many friends to this disease. When this particular epidemic was forming, there was a big scare when you were diagnosed, because it used to be a death sentence. It is still urgent to educate young men and women. We still have an epidemic on our hands. We have to make sure that people have a proper respect for and information about this disease. And coming to Telluride was a chance to continue the advocacy work I have done in my 16 years of battling this disease.”

Grossman + Zambos = A Whole New SHOW!

Recruited by TAB Boardmember Tammy Strome, designer and stylist Karen Zambos procured nearly half of the clothing for the runway this year. Her role was meant to stop there, but it quickly snowballed so that now she’s the official stylist for the entire show. Flying in from L.A., Zambos spent two days last weekend going through every outfit with each TAB model – a professional approach new to a production that previously expected its models to provide their own shoes and accessories to wear with the outfits.

“Styling a show like this has so many things that are involved, when you see so many different designers and colors,” says Zambos. “You have to work with each model’s body and what will look best on her, and what will be best to create the whole look. If a model is heavy on the bottom, obviously, no prints there. You use monochromatic colors top and bottom so they look taller. If someone has a big bust, no print and not too much fabric up there.

“The designs were all-over-the-place; there is no central theme,” she continues. “It was challenging, but the whole trip was very creative and fun.”

Director Wislocki, who participated in the marathon fittings, says, “I learned that ‘Belt It’ doesn’t mean ‘Hit It.’ Karen was amazing; she would just look at something and know exactly how to make it look perfect.”

“Belts are a very important accessory, as they accentuate the waist and, like pieces of jewelry, they make an outfit complete,” she says. She backed this up by donating over 50 belts for the show.

Zambos’s client list includes Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, and Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere, along with many other A-listers. She has styled for the covers of numerous magazines, shows and red carpet events. She got her start in clothing design by reworking vintage pieces that, over the years, evolved into collections that vary from hippie-inspired to classy and elegant. More than anything, Zambos “is happily dressing confident, sexy and playful women worldwide in vintage clothing with a modern twist.”

Of Grossman’s work with TAB, Zambos says: “His ideas are just great. The show is going to be unbelievable, I mean it is going to be awesome, each scene and each designer are just so different. ”

Tickets for the Telluride AIDS Benefit Fashion Show – both the Thursday’s rehearsal and Saturday’s gala – are sold out, although some tickets are being sold on E-Bay.

by Kandee DeGraw

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