JACKSON, Wyoming — Bedecked in daisies and chrysanthemums, Penny McBride strolled regally down the runway Thursday during the Nature's Beauty show outside the Center for the Arts.
Eleven models sported pheasant feathers, wildflowers and even leaves of rhubarb for the inaugural event that was part of the new Jackson Hole Wild Festival.
McBride's design team was inspired by Project Runway, the reality TV show about fashion designers assigned to create outfits in a short time, leader Nona Yehia said.
"We gathered the materials, and it all built through that," she said. "We thought it looked sublime and surreal and kind of dreamy."
The judges thought so, too.
Yehia's team won the Judge's Choice award for its creation, "Nature's Dream."
Art writer Meg Daly and artist Sarah Kariko determined the winners.
Each team received restaurant gift certificates.
Before the show, designers prepped their models in a tent next to the runway. The atmosphere was festive, with drinks for sale as well as Pica's taco truck selling food to spectators.
Organizer Cindee George wanted the creative process to be part of the event, she said.
Kariko said she enjoyed seeing the imagination at work.
"It's been fun to watch the models evolve from when we first arrived," she said.
Foraging for materials to decorate the live models was encouraged, and several artists, including painter Susan Thulin and sculptor Jenny Dowd, took up the challenge.
"Jackson Hole is wild," George said. "This is our idea of a runway show, but it fits in with our community and culture."
It was interesting to see the artists work outside their usual mediums, George said.
Thulin's inspiration coincided with her art show that opened at the center on Thursday. She worked with the Institute of Ethnomedicine on its research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. She decorated her model, 9-year-old Kate Budge, with plants to represent the illness. To signify that the disease starts in the brain Thulin used noxious weeds to make a crown on Kate's head. ALS typically travels down one side of the body, and she painted a representation of the cells on her model's left side.
"She's exhibiting the progress of ALS disease," Thulin said. "The disease travels like a community."
To represent her belief that wellness can also travel like a community, however, she used aspen leaves to create a tunic.
Thulin's creation won People's Choice.
Kate loved being part of the show.
"I thought it would be so fun to do, and it is," she said.
Other models were dressed as poplar trees, adorned with balls of human hair and chicken eggs and festooned with tumbleweeds and even porcelain teeth.
The Art Association of Jackson Hole, which co-hosted the event, dressed up Kristin Sell Smith as "Nature's Beast" with glitter, feathers, flowers and antlers.
The Art Association teachers collaborated on the project, Emily Boespflug said.
"Our inspiration is unity and strength," she said. "We came together and built the beast."
Their invention won Best Use of Natural Materials.
Wrapped in rhubarb leaves, model Tilli Rossetti and her team won Best Team Under Age 15.
"We wanted it to be out of our garden," said her mother and designer, Miga Rossetti. "We cut that down and we'll eat it later."
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com