The third annual Aspen AIDS Benefit–a theatrical fashion show that blends dance, story, and music into a carefully curated and choreographed evening–holds court at the Belly Up Aspen on March 29, 2014. Co-produced by Aspenite Ramona Bruland and Katy Parnello, this high-energy spring soirée is a sister event to the highly successful Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB), which raises funds for AIDS advocacy in Colorado and Africa. Expect a silent auction, beautiful live models, dancers, and actors, showcasing the latest Aspen fashion trends. We caught up with Bruland and Parnello on the eve of their big weekend.
How was Aspen Aids Benefit born?
KATY PARNELLO: It was started in 1994 for Robert Pressley, a Telluride local who was HIV positive and wasn't able to pay for his medication. Robert was an elaborate costume designer, so his friends banded together and created a fashion show to raise money for him. $12,000 was raised and Robert was such a kindhearted person, he decided he wanted to share the money with others and donated the money to an HIV organization. From there it's grown to what it is today, donating 2.1 million to beneficiaries in Colorado and Africa.
What designers will we see on the Belly Up runway?
RAMONA BRULAND: High-end designers such as Rebecca Taylor, Kenneth Cole, and Donald J. Pilner, to streetwear indie designers such as Scotch & Soda and The Reformation.
Why is AIDS a cause near and dear to you?
KP: Before working for TAB, I was uneducated about this virus. It had fallen out of the headlines and there was, and still is, a wide spread misconception that AIDS has been cured and/or you can lead a full life with the drugs that have been created. And as those drugs are amazing and have given individuals the chance to lead a long life, they are also incredibly expensive and don't make all ailments disappear. This is a disease that can be stopped. It’s a virus that we as people are spreading on our own. No one else has to ever contract this virus. Through education, awareness, funding allocated to treatments and prevention programs, we can eradicate this virus and make it a thing of the past.
What are the fabulous fashion trends you're seeing on Aspen slopes this season?
RB: Ski fashion can be timeless, some of the time. This year when skiing I wear my favorite Authier pants from Performance Ski and a Frauenschuh grey and white jacket. Not very colorful this year, neutrals, black, grey, and white have been totally in this season. Snowboarding, I still love my colorful items from Gretchen Bleiler’s Signature Series by Oakley. I’m really enjoying the style of the skinny snowboard pant with a longer jacket, like my O’Neill get up. Super cute. For après ski, I just can’t live with out my grey KJUS hooded puff vest.
You're an expert snowboarder. What gear are you currently most obsessed with?
RB: I don’t ever hit the mountain without my POC Fornix ultra lightweight helmet (I feel naked with out it), a good chapstick, and my buff. That thin layer of face protection from the wind, cold, snow, and sun is a lifesaver. When I was 19 I dug the goggle tan look but now that I’m in my 30s covering up is the best thing you can do for your skin. So when it’s 55 degrees out and I’m covered up like a bank robber, don’t laugh. I’m maximizing my time in the outdoors. Plus, did you know it can double as a boob tube?
Belly Up Aspen, 450 S. Galena St., 970-544-9800
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ROSS DANIELS