Fashionably Philanthropic

The Founders Junior Council’s longstanding Fash Bash has become one of the DIA’s most anticipated events


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It’s hard to imagine the Detroit Institute of Arts looking more beautiful than it already is, but the annual Fash Bash event transforms the museum into an even more idealized version of itself. 

This year’s event will be held Aug. 11. It begins with an outdoor cocktail reception on the front steps of the museum, followed by the “Art of Fashion” runway show put on by Neiman Marcus inside the museum’s Great Hall. 

To close out the night, guests will enjoy dancing and cocktails outside the DIA at the Lincoln Black Label After Party. 

The Founders Junior Council (FJC) and DIA have hosted Fash Bash since 1970. Originally held at the Pontchartrain Hotel, it later moved to locations like the State Theatre and Renaissance Center. 

Today, the Fash Bash is held at the DIA, and more than 800 people are expected to attend. The event has evolved over time — with celebrities like Cindy Crawford and Brooke Shields attending in the past — to become one of the DIA’s most anticipated events of the year.

“We see many return guests, but are always looking for ways to expand our reach, grow the event, and create new connections with first-time guests,” says FJC President Amy Zimmer. “There is no ‘typical guest’ at Fash Bash.”

The event’s increased popularity has allowed the FJC to announce a $1 million pledge to the DIA’s operating endowment — the largest single commitment from an auxiliary in DIA history. In honor of the gift, the museum’s Egyptian gallery was scheduled to be renamed the “Founders Junior Council Gallery” in late July. 

Fash Bash co-chair Michael Ziecik has been attending the event since the early ’80s. “Early on it was a small fundraiser, but as we got bigger it evolved from there,” he says. “We’ve had participants from all over Southeast Michigan come to this event since the beginning — and fashion was the reason they came.”

Ziecik’s wife, Carol, is also an event chair and emphasized how impressive Fash Bash was — even before Detroit’s renaissance. 

“Fash Bash has always been a little ahead of its time, and now Detroit is catching up,” she says. “The fashion show is a highlight and it’s evolved to almost theater … it’s very elegant and high fashion.”

Staged by Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus’ senior vice president and fashion director, the show has become one of his favorites.

“As a part-time Detroiter, it gives me great pride to be part of an event that brings so much joy to a city I love,” Downing says, adding that it’s a way to  “give back to the DIA, an institution that represents the past, the present, and the future of the hottest and most talked-about city in America.” 

While the show’s theme is always kept a surprise, expect lots of color at this year’s cocktail event. 

“I love that the show is in August; it allows me to push the ideas of fall, especially many of the Ziggy Stardust/glam rock references that I am particularly excited about currently,” Downing adds. “It’s going to be an over-the-top translation of the season.”

Zimmer adds that this year’s event theme is especially inspired by collections of Alice + Olivia, Libertine, and Rosie Assoulin, “with wistful, eclectic, and diverse viewpoints of the designers and their chromatic palettes with cool embellishments, geometric prints, and exaggerated shapes.”

Event co-chairs  and FJC board of director members Sarah and Calvin Ford will attend Fash Bash for the first time this year after moving from Denver to Birmingham. “This is a signature fashion event of the city,” says Sarah. “So I think Detroit and the surrounding community is very excited about putting on their best and taking fashion risks by pushing the envelope in their own unique way.” A third pair of co-chairs are Tony and Tiffany Saunders.

And the historic success of Fash Bash syncs up with new DIA President Salvador Salort-Pons’ goal of turning the museum into a “town square.” 

“Fash Bash is an event that draws a crowd for a good reason,” says Michael Ziecik, adding: “People-watching is the best part.” 


Fash Bash prices range from $150-$750; a portion is tax deductible. Visit dia.org/fjc or call 313-833-4005.
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