Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
So I got to play Heidi Klum last weekend as a judge for the “Green is the New Black” fashion show in Carbondale.
It is always an honor, and I am always a little bit surprised, when people ask me to participate in these events. It’s not like I have the paparazzi following me around or people waiting in line to have me sign their newspaper or need a manager to help me organize my social calendar. It always feels good to be loved.
I took my role very seriously and wanted to make sure I lived up to the task. I planned my outfit in advance (bell-bottom disco pants by Free People, cowl-neck tank and platform Mary Jane clogs), had a manicure, and didn’t blow-dry my hair all week so it would be extra shiny and healthy looking. The pants were a hit – I got lots of compliments on the pants – so I think I did pretty well at nailing the right look for my debut into Carbondale society.
Ryan and I have been housesitting down in Missouri Heights for the past week, so we’ve gotten a real taste of what life would be like downvalley.
It never ceases to amaze me how seriously people take the whole “downvalley vs. upvalley” scenario. You would think it was Yankees vs. Red Sox. It’s a rivalry so acute that you are literally choosing a side, or even a whole identity, with your ZIP code.
I have no doubt in my artificial blond mind that I am an Aspen girl through and through. I love my fur, my designer shoes, my stylist, Rita, my sheriff, Joey, my friends, my pedal-pushing mayor, my Highlands Ski Patrol, my bowl, my home.
The biggest misconception about Aspen, particularly among those who have chosen to be on the downvalley team, is that we are somehow snooty or elitist. But I gotta tell you, I have never lived anywhere else where people are so accepting. If you want to dress like Paris Hilton every day of the week, no one cares. If you want to be a dirtbag, they still treat you like a princess at Prada, and that is something I know for a fact. After all, how many times have you wandered into Dior after yoga, hair all awry from sweat, and still had the saleswoman entertain your desire to try on every piece in the new spring resort line? I love Aspen, but the simple fact remains: We can’t really afford it. Not really.
On the other hand, Aspenites are ridiculous about thinking anything outside the roundabout is on another planet. “But it’s so far,” our friend Brian whined when we asked why he’s never been out to our house in the Aspen Business Center. He thinks everything is “so far,” and yet he and his girlfriend will regularly run/bike/cross-country ski quadruple that distance just for fun.
When we tell people we are thinking of moving downvalley, they cry, “Don’t do it!” as if we are going to make some kind of permanent, fatal mistake. I’m sitting there going, “I didn’t say I was getting breast implants or enlisting in the Army!” I’m talking about moving, like, 20 minutes away.
“You’ll never ski again!” they cry.
And I’m like, “I’m not going blind, for Christ’s sake.”
“I said ‘ski,’ not ‘see.'”
But their tone suggests otherwise. They act like it’s a death sentence or some kind of failure. Like you’re giving up, throwing in the towel, sinking with the rest of the ship. I don’t get it. I mean, where I grew up we had to drive 15 minutes to go just about anywhere, and it was no big deal. And might I remind you when the pearly gates open at the Holy Whole Foods, my friends from Aspen will probably be begging me to spend the night at our new place just so they can go grocery shopping. Screw Ajax – you can now get grilled tofu at the salad bar, biatch.
There are a few other things you can get downvalley that you’re not going to find in Aspen: free parking, a car wash and detail for 32 bucks, a mani-pedi that lasts, good Indian food and temps in the 60s.
I didn’t say I don’t believe in God or that I wish I was the one who burned the Quran. We’re just thinking about moving is all.
Sitting in my front-row seat at the fashion show, feeling very important and cool, I got a little taste of the Carbondale scene. There were models of all ages, all shapes and all sizes. They made clothes out of bike tires and garbage bags and potato sacks. Some of it was outrageous, some of it was bizarre and some very beautiful. My favorite garment of the evening was a flapper dress by Jenna Bradford. It was beautifully constructed, flattering, fashionable, and the girl made it out of her mother’s curtains. I’m pretty confident Heidi Klum herself would have loved it. I gave her my highest marks, so I was very happy to hear she won the Collage Designer Challenge.
Ryan was the auctioneer for the event and jumped up on that runway and auctioned his face off like he’d been doing it his whole life. I mean, he really nailed it. Not only was he super comfortable in front of the sizable crowd, he was funny, and he looked hot, too. I have never felt more proud. The good people of Carbondale loved him and approached him afterward, and he fit right in. He was king for yet another day.
I don’t know where we stand on our whole home-searching dilemma. It might be as simple as the adage: What goes up might just have to come down.
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