After a nine-year hiatus, “Fashion of the Pines” returns to Fire Island on August 20.
Approximately 200 people are expected to attend “A Day in the Pines” during the event at Whyte Hall and the Albert Lepage Pavilion which will feature a nod to the past with a modern twist. While many well-known designers have ties to the island, the show will spotlight young queer minority founders, designers and artists.
The show is an orchestrated production in association with the Fire Island Arts Project, an organization that has been organizing events and performances on the island for 35 years. JD Winston, board member, producer and former multidisciplinary performer, and Ryan Espinosa, fellow FIPAP board member and owner of the Denizen store on the island, are overseeing the revival of the event.
The track will feature items from the store and other stores, as well as donated parts. “We don’t sell a particular brand. Essentially, it’s a celebration of where we are as an island in this truly expressive moment of individuality. The island is very DIY. People will put on a headband, maybe a pair of designer shorts and the rest will be made as they go,” Espinosa said. “If you’ve spent a lot of time here, you know what can happen in a very free and safe space. The rules are abandoned [behind] when you get off the ferry.
Dating back to the 70s, “Fashion of the Pines” was an annual celebration of local style. The late Fire Island developer and former model John Whyte was instrumental in creating the show and hosting the pool festivities at the Botel.
The “Day in the Pines” theme was first used in the late 80s by Russell Graham. Andy Baker and Ward Auerbach helped plant the seeds to revive the event, which Denizen is touting. Winston said he and Espinosa started talking about the Fashion of the Pines events that ran from the ’80s to the early ’90s, and the prospect of having them again. The event started in the 70s but the onset of AIDS led to its suspension.
The duo pitched the idea to some of the people who experimented with the original shows, like Bob Howard and Scott Bromley, and gleaned some ideas. Some people from the Fire Island community have been enlisted to serve as role models. They will be showcasing Pins-related sports fashion, including a few styles from past Fashion of the Pines events.
An open bar with DJ and a silent auction will take place during the first hour of the first hour of this month. Guests will also find nostalgic ephemera from Fashion of the Pines events from years past. Once the crowd has moved inside, Luis Villabon will perform “My Strongest Suit” from the musical “Aida” in drag and Hal Rubenstein and Espinosa will host the event.
Noting how Fire Island first became a popular getaway for many gay artists, designers and celebrities in the 70s, Winston said it was known as a haven to escape, feel safe and be yourself. -even, “when it wasn’t the easiest thing to do” at that time.
In the 1980s, proceeds from the annual exposition went to the Pines Conservation Society. In recognition of this, the benefits of the 2022 edition will go to this organization and to FIPAP.