Category: Good Times

A night among the SWANs

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Audiences celebrated the 10th anniversary of SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day on March 25 with a good dose of music, art, crafts, body painting, live painting, and burlesque.

The event organized by Bristol native Jennifer Hill was held at Trinity-on-Main in New Britain.

Here are some images from this year’s event.

PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN

10 years of SWANs celebrated Saturday

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Ten years have passed since Jennifer Hill launched the first SWAN Day.

And what started out as an arts festival designed to not only pay tribute to film and music but include other art forms created by women has continued as a tradition that tears away the spotlight from male artists and puts the focus on creative women.

This year’s SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day is March 25 in New Britain.

In press materials, SWAN Day explained, “While searching for grants for both her music and her students, (musician) Jennifer Hill found a non- profit organization called Women Arts…Just as Hill was exploring ideas to produce a show, Women Arts wanted to start a holiday to celebrate women in the arts…. ‘I wrote to (the organization and said) I love what you’re are doing. Would it still be a SWAN event if we featured bands, burlesque, and art. And (they) said ‘Yes! we’ve never thought of doing that.we are just starting out.’ So Hill ran with her idea and started producing a SWAN DAY for Connecticut and called it SWAN DAY CT. The first one was in 2008.”

Artist Kerry Kennedy, who paints a canvas live, was one of the first performers in SWAN Day when it was started 10 years ago and she hasn’t missed one first.

“SWAN Day was the catalyst for my first live painting, which has become a signature of my portfolio and had expanded the breadth of my work over the years,” said Kerry.

As one of the first creatives to sign on with SWAN Day, Kerry said she was attracted to an event that celebrated women because, “Gender bias is a reality in the visual arts world as much as it is in any profession. As a freelancer, it has worked in my favor that I have a gender-neutral name. My advisor in art school only used her initials to sign artwork for the same reason.”

“Female artists are often pigeon-holed into certain styles of work,” said Kerry. “Art museums feature more paintings of naked women than they do paintings BY women,” said Kerry.

“I was hungry for a dedicated event showcasing the diversity of styles and broad range of talents that artistic women possess,” said Kerry.

Singer Gracie Day of Bristol came across SWAN Day more recently.

“I was thrilled when I found out about SWAN Day because the music scene is mostly full of men, so it’s exciting to be a part of an event led by females,” said Gracie. “Last year was my first time in SWAN Day and the most valuable thing I personally took away from it, was making connections with other female artists. There was a camaraderie and support system all about raising each other up.”

“As a women in the music industry, I unfortunately experience sexual harassment,” said Gracie. “And because it’s not a regulated industry—especially for independent musicians— there is no (human resources department) to report to or anything.”

“SWAN Day (which is an international movement as well as local) is particularly significant for women in developing countries, whose talent and crafts have been historically undervalued and unappreciated,” said Kerry. “Giving these women a platform to celebrate their skills can enable them to establish income from their work in a way previously not explored.”

“Here in Connecticut, SWAN Day enables all the women at the venue to support each other for one night without worrying about how they will ensure their work gets noticed in an industry that still favors men,” said Kerry.

“SWAN Day is needed especially in this current political climate where women’s rights seem to be threatened,” said Gracie. “I think in this third-wave feminist movement, especially in the creative arts, there has been a focus on eliminating competition amongst one another. SWAN Day has that spirit.”

“We are sisters who have suffered in the same ways and who have soared in the same way,” said Gracie. “We are there for each other.”

Have things gotten better for women since the first SWAN Day?

Gracie replied, “I think once these questions stop being asked it will be indicative of equality.”

Beyond events like SWAN Day, to make things better, Kerry said, “It will take successful artists of all sexes and genders holding each other up and lending their influence and power to those women who need it. Artists need advocates, just as women need advocates in the corporate realm to break that glass ceiling.”

“SWAN Day is not just about women and feminism,” said Gracie, “It’s also just a chance to shine the spotlight on women in charge in the male-dominated music scene.”

The SWAN Day musical line up is Murderous Chanteuse, Tiny Ocean, Nan Roy, Parlor Walls, Elizabeth Dellinger, Nikki Mathi, Patti Rothberg, Canyon, Scarlett, That Virginia, Gracie Day,Terri Gladwell,Sarah Golley, and Jen Taylor. Hosts are Ryan Kristafer from WTNH’s “CT Style” and artist/designer Ebony Amber Parish. Dj Breakdown will fill in the musical voids and Cupcake Wars winners, Hardcore Cupcakes, will be on hand for your sweet tooth. Burlesque acts will be performed by Mistress Leona Star, Vivienne LaFlamme and Harley Foxx. Live painting onstage will be offered by Kerry Kennedy. Both stages run separately so everyone can catch all the happenings of the evening. The show is for everyone 18-plus or all ages if accompanied by an adult. Tickets are $18 resale online and $20 at the door. Tickets can be found at www.showclix.com/event/SWANDAYCT2017

The doors open at Trinity on Main, 60 Main St., New Britain at 4:30 p.m., www.trinityonmain.org

When is a rock show not a rock show… ask the performers at ‘Game of Thrones’

by MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

I went to a classical music concert on a recent Saturday.

But the audience didn’t arrive in the stereotypical jacket and tie or designer dress.

There were t-shirts, blue jeans, nightclub dresses with short skirts, and thigh high boots.

And rather than champagne and wine, they had beer, popcorn, and pizza.

The show also wasn’t presented in an historic theater with a velvet curtain and a balcony. It was held in an arena that recently hosted a professional lacrosse game and would host a country music concert a few weeks later.

Of course, they didn’t dub it a classical music concert.

They dubbed it the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience.”

The show at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Feb. 25 focused on the soundtrack compositions from the cable series, “Game of Thrones.” And it had all the trappings of a big production rock concert.

There were huge video screens across the length of the arena, showing clips from the HBO fantasy series, “Game of Thrones.” There was an elaborate stage that stretched from one end of the arena floor to the other, with trap doors, rising platforms, snow falling, fog, pyrotechnics to emulate a dragon’s flight, and sound effects. There was an intricate light show and there was a top notch sound system.

It was like a Pink Floyd concert—without Pink Floyd.

But it clearly was not a rock concert.

There were no electric guitars or basses. There was no drum kit.

Instead, there was a 30-plus piece orchestra with strings, woodwinds, and (non-rock and roll) percussion. There was a violin soloist. There was a soprano. There was a choral ensemble dressed as monks who harmonized wordlessly as they marched through the arena, across the stage, and behind the symphony.

And there was the music of “Game of Thrones” soundtrack composer Ramin Djawadi, which was not mere background music. Instead they were compositions full of drama, bombast, sturm und drang, and enough heft to give Wagner and Beethoven the blues.

All that said, however, it definitely was not rock music.

However, the crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena was definitely a rock and roll crowd. They would have been right at home at a Def Leppard show

But don’t tell them they were at a classical music performance.

In many ways, the folks at Live Nation and HBO, who organized the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” had a great idea. It was like putting gooey melted American cheese on broccoli. The broccoli is good for you but is not always the favorite of a junk food nation. But if you dowse it in orangey cheese, you get your vitamins and it’s tasty too.

And that was the case here. As music, the work of Ramin Djawadi is very good. It’s complex. It successfully evokes a mood and an atmosphere for the violent and stormy world portrayed in “Game of Thrones.” It definite egghead material. Performance wise, I was impressed with the orchestra. Clearly, they brought along A-game professionals who not only play with skill but passion.

Even without the trappings of pyro and mammoth sized video screens, Djawadi’s work and the performance still would take you on an aural journey.

The tour also mines the rabid fandom surrounding “Game of Thrones.” And the audience loved it. When the screens projected certain characters or portions of storylines, they cheered loudly as if their favorite team had taken to the field. The show was a great opportunity for fans of the show—which is entering its seventh season– to immerse themselves in the show again.

Classical music recently has had a tough time. Its audience is older, and by the nature of an aging population, you lose members over time. Many orchestras are cutting back on their performance schedule as budgets shrink, corporate donations disappear, and audiences distract themselves with other pastimes.

Many orchestras try to find a golden elixir to bring back the crowds. They do pop series, such as an evening of Pink Floyd music or the Beatles or “Star Wars” theme music. Hartford Symphony Orchestra even brought out the spotlight for the compositions accompanying video games.

But HBO and Live Nation clearly found a formula. Rather than force pop culture into the classical music format, force the classical music into a pop music formula. Give the audience dungeons and dragons, give them fog machines, and give them fire and explosions—and let the violins, cellos, and bassoons play along.

At the Mohegan Sun, the crowds enthusiastically filed in… for a classical music performance– and walked away with the rock and roll t-shirts as well.

Overall, I’d give “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” 3 out of 4 stars… only because at times, as someone who is not GoT fan, I was lost watching the video projections. And if part of the experience was the video, a portion of the appeal of the show was lost on me. I’m not sure, th ough,  how you would fix that.

But “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience” was definitely a show thoroughly embraced by the GoT fandom.

PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN

Bring a mask when you celebrate Mardi Gras

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Behind a mask, you can be anybody you want to be.

And at Mardi Gras, the anonymity is all the better.

According to MardiGrasNewOrleans.com, “In the beginning, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. When wearing a mask, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired to mingle with.”

As for the festivities themselves, Smithsonianmag.com explained: “Mardi Gras made landfall in the United States back in the 17th century when the French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville set up camp 60 miles from New Orleans on the day that the holiday was being celebrated in France. He called the location Point du Mardi Gras. But, Mardi Gras and the accompanying masked balls associated with the holiday were outlawed when the Spanish governor took control of the area in 1766 as well as when it came under U.S. rule in 1803. But by 1823, the Creole population convinced the governor to permit masked balls. By 1827, wearing a mask in the street was legalized in New Orleans.”

Mardi Gras – complete with the traditional masks— takes to the colorful halls of carousel horses and artwork this weekend when the New England Carousel Museum hosts its annual Mardi Gras Party..

The fundraising event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 7:30 p.m. to midnight. There will be music, food, bourbon, and beads. The Al Fenton Band will perform as guests dance the night away in the museum ballroom. There also will be a 50/50 raffle, face painters, temporary tattoos, balloon twisting, magic, bourbon, and wine tastings—activities all worthy of the Speakeasy.

And, of course, there will be masks for sale in the museum’s gift shop.

After all, when you’re in a mask, no one needs to know your name at Mardi Gras.

The New England Carousel Museum is at 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol. For more information, go to TheCarouselMuseum.org. Tickets are $50 and are available online.

Steampunks, cinema converge at premiere

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

This Friday night, Connecticut audiences can experience a unique partnership between the steampunk universe and the cinematic universe.

“Tales of a Broken Reality: Fragments” is a nationwide, collaborative series where anyone with a camera and an afternoon can create their own episode for the show.

The Airship Wendigo, a local collective in the steampunk universe, will present the premiere of its entry into the “Tales of a Broken Reality” universe on Friday, Feb. 10 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Innovate Hartford , 20 Church St., Floor 17, Hartford

We caught up with Bryan Oliver, creator of “Tales of a Broken Reality” and Chelsea Renaldi, the director for Airship Wendigo, via email to speak about the endeavor.

Observer: Talk to me about the original inspiration behind creating “Tales of a Broken Reality?”

Bryan: I originally set out to make a movie with some of my friends. We knew it would be low to no budget but was just something fun we thought we would try. I have a background in commercial production and figured I would use those skills for something a little more unique. I was also told I could not pull it off so that definitely motivated me.

O: Why establish essentially a crowd-source web series where anyone can participate?

B: I chose this path because so many steampunks have created great characters, but have very little chance to show off who their character is. Normally when putting on the gear for a con or special event, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to actually “Be” the character. This allows for that. I chose to have it be open to nearly anyone because there are many great stories to tell, each group has their own way of seeing the project, and it allows for a larger series without putting all of the weight on one particular group.

O: Is there a central plot, or is it like an anthology series like the old “Twilight Zone?”

B: Yes and yes, there is the main series called “Tales of a Broken Reality,” which focuses on the story of a character called Tin Man and the people he encounters.

There is a side series of shorter works called “Fragments,” which tells individual stories that are loosely related but are stand alone for the most part.

O: How long is each episode? Does it vary based on the creators?

Chelsea: The main series clocks in at about 30 minutes per episode. “Fragments” has been broken up into more bite sized pieces, running under 10 minutes each. The special episode we are premiering, “Jaws of Hell” is about 30 minutes.

O: Why a steampunk context for the series?

Bryan: I love the look of Steampunk, I love the mixture of science fiction with the Victorian era and the Wild West. That and I know a ton of really unique steampunks who own their characters rather than doing cosplay of something that is copywritten.

O: Are the cast members all from the steampunk community or are you pulling in actors outside of the circle as well?

Chelsea: Everyone on the Airship Wendigo cast and crew is a Steampunk fan to some degree. Due to no budget, we focused on casting individuals who could provide their own Steampunk costume.

O: How many episodes have been filmed so far, what is the ultimate goals for how many series you create?

B: We have four main episodes that have been filmed so far, and we have 12 “Fragments” that have also been completed. I want to keep the series as its two sections but I have no limit on how many episodes they will contain.

O: Where has the filming thus far been taking place?

B: So far we have filmed in Louisiana, Colorado, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and even the Netherlands. We hope to get groups to participate from all 50 states and as many other countries as we can. Our next bit of production will take place in Arizona during Wild Wild West Con in March.

C: Airship Wendigo’s episodes were shot throughout Connecticut in Shelton, East Hartford, and Wolcott, as well as Southern Massachusetts.

O: Talk to me about the Feb. 10 event, why have a “premiere” event? What can people expect from the event?

C: We wanted to reach out to the community and give recognition to those involved, like Bryan and our venue, Innovate Hartford. TBR and Airship Wendigo both have more fun stories in store, so this event doubles as a fundraiser for all of the volunteers involved in this project to keep creating them.

Outside of TBR, Airship Wendigo is a budding Steampunk collective. This screening will not only showcase our contribution to TBR, but all of the talent that went into it. We will have Steampunk vendors, including Wendigo members, Big Bear Trading Co. and Smoke & Steam Productions. We will have a Steampunk bake sale, lovingly made by another member of our team, and photo ops with custom pieces from the episode. There will also be a mini fashion show featuring costumes from the film and a costume contest for guests. To top it all off, the composers for our episode, The Eternal Frontier, will be performing live.

For more information about Airship Wendigo, go to http://chelsearenaldi.weebly.com/airship-wendigo.html

For a trailer, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvRkhrcjfl4

For episodes from “Tales of a Broken Reality,” go to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh6nwJRTjmNXeGlgm4u5zAw

Southington native among dance luminaries highlighted in new photo exhibit

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

The history of dance in Connecticut will be illustrated with photographs.

And as part of an upcoming exhibit, which was organized by the Connecticut Dance Alliance and was due to open Jan. 19 at the Connecticut Historical Society, the opening night focus was to be placed on a Southington man who helped shape the dance world… not only in Connecticut but across the globe.

Bring up the name of Alwin Nikolais in casual conversation in his hometown, you might get a “Who?” or a blank stare.

But in the world of dance, his name looms large.

And he is one of the names that pops up in “Connecticut Dances—A Visual History,” was organized by the Dance History Project of the CDA.

Jill Henderson, the director of the Dance History Project, said Nikolais – born in 1910 and who passed away in 1993— was an important arts figure, not only in the Nutmeg state but across the globe.

“He had a small (dance) company in Hartford,” said Henderson. He was part of a dance troupe at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. And he was a figure on the international stage. (For example, his piece “Schema” was performed in Paris in 1980, the same time his choreography for an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti was performed at the Vienna Staatsoper.)

“He was very much a presence,” said Henderson. “He was a luminary of Connecticut dance.”

Describing the life of Nikolais, Henderson explained he arrived in the world of dance at an age much later in life than was typical for dancer.

When the Southington native graduated from Lewis High School (now Southington High School), said Henderson, Nikolais was a musician not a dancer. He played in the high school marching band.

But as a young man, he attended a dance performance. The performance was very different from the classical ballet he had seen before.

“He was very inspired,” said Henderson.

In a 1992 interview with Susan Beaucar Palmer, which was provided by CDA, Nikolais said, “I was born in Southington, Connecticut and I was taken to see Mary Wigman. She was Truda (Kaschmann)’s teacher. (Kaschmann brought modern dance instruction to the Hartford School of Music.) I fell in love with what I saw Wigman do.”

During his time in Hartford and Connecticut, Nikolais eventually worked with the legendary Chick Austin, who turned the Wadsworth Atheneum and Hartford into one of the THE places for the arts in the 1930s and 1940s. (In the 1992 interview, Nikolais said, “Chick Austin was the ‘big bad boy’ of the arts in Hartford… and a wonderful stimulation to all of the arts.”)

Nikolais also had his own theater in Southington (“We scraped down an old burned fish market and made a little theater of it. We did plays which didn’t require royalty payment. So along with Michael Adrian, I very often directed parts of things or whole little plays,” he said in 1992.) He worked with the Hartford Federal Theater in the 1930s as a choreographer— brought their by Adrian— who had been a Hollywood director at that point.

Henderson said Nikolais was a trailblazer in that he was one of the first “total theater” performers. He did everything. He handled choreography He created his own sound design. He created the light design  as well.

As a choreographer, said Henderson, Nikolais was unique in how he used his dancers. Typically, he used his dancers as objects to create “visually astonishing effects… so the dancers always became integral with what audience was seeing.” He used dancers, explained Henderson, more like props on stage.

Henderson said there were many possible figures in the world of dance in the state who could have served as a figure for the opening night of “Connecticut Dances: A Visual History.” But the decision was made to dedicate the opening to Nikolais because of his international renown and his radical and creative approach to choreography.

As part of the evening, the Dance History Project even invited the sole remaining member of the 1940-42 Nikolais’s dance company, Ruth Grauert, 97, to speak about the man. Also a former soloist with Nikolais Dance Theatre, Lynn Needle, was invited to perform Nikolais’s “Noumenon.”

The Connecticut Dance Alliance in partnership with the Connecticut Historical Society will present “Connecticut Dances- A Visual History” at the Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth St., Hartford through March 4.

The exhibition is the culmination of a crowd-sourcing initiative “All About Dance in Connecticut” that documents the many facets of the history of dance in Connecticut through an on- line gallery collection of over two thousand photographic images submitted by members of the Connecticut dance community over the past two years. The total collection of images can be viewed at www.flickr.com/groups/2734781@N25/.

“Connecticut Dances- A Visual History” eventually will travel throughout Connecticut. The tour listing as it develops can be found on www.ctdanceall.com.

Midnight Orchid’s steampunk style comes calling

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

In addition to a variety of steampunk classes at the Brass Ring Academy this weekend and the steampunk flavored music cranking at the Brass Ring Cabaret on Saturday night, there will be steampunk influenced vendors all weekend at The New England Carousel Museum.

Ginger Seibert, the designer behind Midnight Orchid clothes, will be returning this year for the annual steampunk gathering in Bristol, Conn. Via email, Seibert spoke about her life in steampunk and as a designer.

Q: How did you get introduced to the world of steampunk?

A: Honestly I was chatting with a vending friend and she said, “Hey, you should do this event and so it began.

Q: What did you find appealing about it?

A: I do enjoy the diversity of the steampunk society. It really is a great mix of all ages, families, and imagination

Q: What are some of your favorite dimensions of the community?

A: Again it is the variety. I love seeing what everyone’s imagination merges into. It really is a great community of people.

Q: How did you get into designing clothing for the steampunk community?

A: I started making clothing when I was a young girl for Civil War reenacting. My parents were Sutlers (civilian merchants who sold to goods to the army) and my mother taught me to sew. I won my first historically accurate dress competition at 9 years old. From there, my mom and I moved into the (Society for Creative Anachronism) and I began making belly dance clothing and performing. That was really because there was not much natural fabric clothing out there for a tall girl. Steampunk really fell into my lap and gave me a way to diversify my designs— along with an outlet for some of my crazier ideas that have no real place in say Goth, belly dance, SCA, Civil War, etc.

Q: Describe your particular fashion voice… what is your individual vision for steampunk fashions?

A: I am not really sure that I have a direct fashion voice. My main staple hitcher skirts and boleros sets were built to accommodate all shapes and sizes. From there, the other items I make are built from found objects. That for me is the challenge. An example would be my husband’s old army uniforms, which we have repurposed into crop jackets, shorts, and chap shorts or the World War II Army scarves that I have turned into hooded shrugs and neck warmers. I even work in upcycled kimonos and obi into dresses and tops. Just to name a few things.

Q: What is the challenge in creating steampunk fashion as compared to something that’s more over the counter?

A: I would not say it is a challenge. I enjoy that I can work in alternative mediums and create more wearable art. The biggest challenge for my company is, almost all of our items are one of a kind, which makes posting them for online sales a lot of work.

Q: Who do you see as your particular customer?

A: For me, my customers are everyone. I love that I can make a mother feel beautiful and due to adjustability many times they can share the pieces with their daughter. The men love our steinkirks. It gives them a fun way to express themselves or tie in with the tie vest their wife is wearing. Even our Kimono dresses look wonderful on all shapes and sizes and varieties of layering.

As part of the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret, a fashion show—featuring the guests at the event as the models—will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Seibert was asked to provide some guidance for those attendees looking to be selected for the sartorial showdown.

Q: For you, just as a fan of Steampunk, what are some musts for Steampunk attire?

A: A must would be an idea and time to build it. Don’t just put a gear on it. Make that gear do something. Don’t just wear a corset make it a base layer to a whole outfit. Basically if you can dream it you can work towards building it or having it commissioned. This really is a make your dream idea come true kind of group.

Q: As someone who designs for the steampunk community, what kind of tips would you give to those attending the show and wanting to be featured in the Brass Ring Fashion Expo?

A: I feel just give it a try. Any effort is appreciated. Otherwise bring or wear the piece you love and come visit me at the booth and I will help finish your outfit.

For more information or to buy pieces from Midnight Orchid, visit them at the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret or go towww.facebook.com/MidnightOrchidDesign or https://www.etsy.com/shop/MidnightOrchidDesign

The Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret will be held Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7 and 8 at the New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol.

The Academy is Saturday, Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is all ages.

The Cabaret is Saturday, Jan. 7, from 7 to 11:30 p.m., and is 18 plus.

The Workshop on Sunday, Jan. 8, is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is all ages.

For more information, go to www.brassringct.com.

Cassidee Knapik of Bristol wears Midnight Orchid’s over skirt and bolero jacket at last year’s Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret at Bristol’s New England Carousel Museum.

A garment from Midnight Orchid is worn on the runway at last year’s fashion show held at the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret held at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol. The Academy and Cabaret return this weekend.

Picking up that cute holiday outfit (or 2 or 3) on a $50 budget

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

If you’re directing the purpose of your spending dollars on finding the right holiday gift for your loved ones, you probably aren’t prepared to focus some of those dollars on finding the right, fashionable outfit for your itinerary of holiday parties.

And your gift-giving dollars can be pretty high. Consumers are reported to spend an average of $935.58 on their holiday shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Although the temptation is to focus on the pricey stores at the mall for that evening party look, you often can find gently used designer wear at local thrift stores that is just as stylish.

To prove the point, Savers provided $50 in gift certificates for a shopping jaunt at their 657 Farmington Ave. store in Bristol. And Bristol’s Taylor Plourd, 16, was told to find some outfits, preferably two full outfits, with that $50.

“Right now,” said Plourd as she began her trip down the aisles at Savers, “I’m looking at sweaters… and maybe pair (one) with some jeans or some leggings. That would be a cute little Christmas outfit. Then I’m going to go down to the dresses and see if I can find something there.” She also had plans to find some shoes and accessories.

Plourd, who describes herself as pretty frugal, said “I think I’m going to get a lot for $50.”

Ten minutes later, the shopping trip in full gear, Plourd already had an armful of finds from Savers. “I have a lot of stuff.” And the individual items fit within her imposed $50 budget, she said.

“I picked up some very high end brands,” said Plourd. “I found a Calvin Klein dress (for $15 dollars).”

When the shopping was over, the dressing room test run was complete, and her final choices were made (Calvin didn’t make the cut), Plourd said, “I was definitely shocked. I found a lot of different holiday colors and a lot of holiday trends. I’m really excited about it.”

Plourd said her most exciting find at Savers was a bluish green peplum dress. “It was only $8. Very in style. Very flattering on the body. It was a great Christmas look.”

In the end, Plourd said, “I bought many items for $48.85. Just about right.”

“I enjoyed (the shopping at Savers) a lot,” said Plourd. “I enjoyed experimenting with a lot of different clothing items. It’s just a great experience.”

Going to Savers, which supports Big Brothers and Big Brothers, would be something Plourd said she would recommend to her friends. “Not a lot of people know what good things they can find in here. It’s definitely fun to shop around and find them.”

As a side note, Plourd intended to donate the clothes back to the Bristol Savers so the money provided via the gift certificate could be put to good use.

For more information about Savers and to find locations near you, go to Savers.com.

For more photographs and a video of Taylor Plourd’s shopping trip, go to www. CTFashionMag.com