Here’s your challenge for the day: Come up with a flashy, sassy moniker for Detroit’s love affair with fashion.
I’m on a mission to create something a little catchier than Fashion City – which could be any city when you think about it. I’m not really into Detroit Fashion District ‘cause I’m not sure all of the up-and-coming designers, hot new stores or garment manufacturers are located remotely near one another. And I’m not so sure that we really are the “Paris of the Midwest” any more.
I ask these questions in part because I’m looking forward to two relatively new fashion events in Detroit. The first takes place this Saturday – the aptly named Fashion in Detroit, which is now run by powerhouses Joe Faris and Denise Ilitch. The second, started by FID veteran Leslie Ann Pilling, known as Michigan F.A.S.H. Fest, will happen in September.
Both events are intriguing because they serve to highlight a side of Detroit that few people realize we have outside of the area. That is…we have money. We like fashionable clothing. We may be stuck inside for six months of the year, but when we take off those parkas, we reveal a fairly sophisticated sense of style.
Some basics: Fashion in Detroit has emerged as a go-to event for those who want to sit as judge on “Project: Runway” or on the sidelines of a mega Paris fashion show. The event, now in its third year, is being co-produced this year by Faris, a “Runway” veteran, and Ilitch, who is a jewelry designer and publisher of Ambassador Magazine.
The event’s goal, the duo said, is to show the fashion industry’s deep belief in the city’s rebirth. Their other goal is to promote Faris’ new clothing line, Motor City Blues, along with the work of other local designers – including our faves, Homeslice Clothing. Student designers also will have their spotlight with a display of their own. Along with the show there will be boutiques to buy what you see on stage, a marketplace of other fashionable wares and a huge digital fan base blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking all over the joint.
Michigan F.A.S.H. Fest is Pilling’s tribute to the local, national and international designers who are knocking her socks off right now. She is putting together a three-day event for the fall, and it will take place in both Detroit and Birmingham – two cities that may not seem like they belong together at first. But I think Pilling is onto something. Both have their own styles, I’ll grant you that. But they make sense in terms of how much each city’s residents care about how they show up at the party.
Here’s how Pilling explains it: F.A.S.H. presents Fashion, Arts, Sound, and History to “show and tell” the world about the extraordinary talents in our community both now and historically. The idea is to show off these talents by concentrating on the four cultural elements that have significantly impacted society. In other words, fashion is the catalyst for so many sights, sounds and events in this state that it is worth celebrating, she told me.
“This is not only our cultural platform, but it is an economic platform to tell people about how fashion is empowering the Motor City,” Pilling said. “The garment industry is becoming more significant here, and we need to look at it as one of the more important directions that the state will go into in the years to come.”
I’ll be keeping in touch with Pilling in the weeks and months to come…I’m intrigued to see how her event shapes up. And I’ll be waiting to hear some of those suggestions you might have for how to describe our fair city in terms of its fashion sense. We gotta take our opportunities any where we have them.