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Inside the Hythe hotel ballroom, 50 models from the National Brotherhood of Skiers donned parkas, hats and goggles to showcase the latest in winter fashion — including garments borrowed from members’ personal wardrobes.
The personal touch was a key element of the 50 Shades of Chocolate Apres Ski & Fashion Show, held Tuesday night as part of the group’s 50th anniversary gathering in Vail.
Models assembled outfits from dozens of racks of clothing, supplied by four vendors, ranging from ski suits to fur-fringed outerwear and formal attire. About 200 people watched as they walked the runway in the tony hotel.
“We love fashion,” NBS executive secretary Sophia Stampley said. “We want to feel good when we come to the summit. And we have some icons in this room right now. When we go to their closet, we follow them. We want to be like them, right?”
The summit fashion show was a staple in the 1980s but got an overhaul by the Sugar and Spice Snow and Social Club for the 2020 meet up at Sun Valley in Idaho, Stampley said. After a virtual festival in 2021, the NBS fashion show had another strong showing at the Aspen-Snowmass summit last year, and the tradition continued in Vail.
Many of the members come from colder places of the northern and eastern U.S., so they’ve had time to refine their winter looks. “It’s nothing more than people’s personal styles,” two-time NBS president Rose Thomas Pickrum said. Members “own very nice outdoor winter clothing. They own very nice boots for snow. And so it becomes a personal style. When you come to the summit, you’re not showing off, you’re just exemplifying your personal style.”
TOP: Henri Rivers, president of National Brotherhood of Skiers, wears the 2001 Winter Carnival shirt. ABOVE: Models wait in the dressing room for their turn on the runway. BELOW: “50 Shades of Chocolate” was the theme of the fashion show this year. BOTTOM: Western and city chic intersect in model Ron Coleman’s ensemble of denim pants and a fur bomber.
People of color are generally underrepresented in the outdoor industry. The show embraces members’ spin on the predominantly white outdoor industry and the American West.
The general theme of the 50th annual NBS event was Soul on Snow, a reference to creativity and heart, as in classic African American cuisine. “Soul food is that food that our grandmothers and our mothers went in there and created. There was not a recipe — (it) came from their heart. It came from the depths of their soul to make sure their families had a good, well-rounded meal, “ said Tracy Jones, a longtime NBS participant who was at the show. “They made a delicious meal with what they had.” A similar feeling went into the fashions on display, she said.
NBS is not only about skiing and snowboarding. The camaraderie, the reunions and the cultural mix are part of the overall experience of the annual event in ski towns.
“It’s just not having some skis and boots on there,” Pickrum says. “It’s the whole thing; it’s how you learn. It’s how you look. It’s how you move. You know, it’s how you raise your goggles and go ‘wink.’”
TOP: Icelantic skis decorated with Lamont Joseph White’s art. BOTTOM: Alaska Fur Gallery, Pepi Sports, Halfdays and Vail Resorts Retail provided garments for the fashion show.
Article and photography by Hugh Carey.