An Inside Out fashion show –

There’s a fall fashion show coming to Huntsville. There will be three runways. There will be many models. There will be glam and style and sass. But this won’t be a traditional fashion show. Inside Out Studio doesn’t do traditional.

The artists at this Lowe Mill art center are making their own fashion statements, less haute couture and more creative expression. One artist throws paint on a thrift store jacket she’ll model, then sews on colorful buttons and adds feathers and a pink scarf. The ensemble would look at home on the stage of a rock show or in a rodeo.

Another artist changes up the little black dress by gluing on a deck of cards. She calls it “Mad Hatter.” One works at painting black cowboy boots a cobalt blue.

The 25 or so artists make their own decisions about what they’ll create. This self-direction is what the Inside Out Studio director, Sherry Broyles, has encouraged for the three years the studio has been open. She wanted to provide a space for creative expression so that special needs artists have a place that supports and encourages them and their work.

“Just like everybody else,” she says, “our artists want to be creative, to contribute to the culture. They want to be included in all aspects of the human experience.”

Broyles got the idea for a fashion show from a similar studio in Oakland, California, called Creative Growth. They serve artists with developmental disabilities of all kinds. Their “Beyond Trend” fashion show is now a yearly event.

After her visit there, Broyles met with Alabama Fashion Alliance members as well as a local production company, Dawson. Along with other volunteers, fiber artist Dennis Potter and designer Le Jeune of AFA agreed to work with Broyles on a runway show with a difference: the models will wear the fashions they created at their work tables at Inside Out.

If the runway seems intimidating, they can simply walk around with their wearable art and have their picture made in front of the red carpet background. If they choose to walk down the carpet, they can do it at their own pace and in their own way, as performance artists do.

Other models will include Inside Out Board Members and volunteers. A fashion photographer will take pictures and a videographer will film the show. Family members and caregivers are invited and the event will include food and beverages. The guests will come back to the studio for a fashion Inside Out party. Some of the artists will sell their work that lines the walls of the art studio. When this happens, Broyles says, it can be life-changing.

“When someone buys your art, it means they value what you do. Who wouldn’t love that?”

The “Fashion Inside Out Runway Show” will be held on Saturday, October 19 from 2:00-5:00 at Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment, 2211 Seminole Drive SW. There is no cost to attend but donations are accepted.

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