Notes from the DIA’s 2016 Fash Bash

‘Designer threads dead ahead’ at museum’s fashionable fundraiser

On Thursday evening, Aug. 11, the Detroit Institute of the Arts was packed with guests, whose styles ranged from casual sundresses to long, elegant eveningwear. Live statues were scattered throughout the space, wearing neutral dresses with matching mesh draped over their faces. They held up signs scrawled with style-savvy phrases like “Passion for Fashion” and “Designer Threads Dead Ahead.”

As guests waited to be seated, they sipped drinks on the outdoor patio and snagged group shots in front of the Fash Bash backdrop. Waiters stood by at the entrance to the Josephine E. & Walter B. Ford II hall with trays loaded up with wine glasses and miniature champagne bottles for audience members to nurse during the show.

Partygoers quickly filled up the 540 available seats — which were all sold out.

As the models emerged onto the runway, fall trends were in full swing. Many of the looks featured long coats in various shades of tan, with furs draped around the models’ necks or hanging from their shoulders. Other oversized jackets boasted bold patterns, from chevron and houndstooth to polka-dots. Beanies were a must-have accessory, along with cozy plaid flannels and chunky necklaces and earrings. The layered look even carried onto the purses, as smaller clutches were tied onto large handbags.

However, there were exceptions to the concealed, layered feel: Audiences hollered as a particularly scantily clad male model strutted in an all-mesh shirt over a pair of little black shorts.

The eveningwear — coated in sequins and other textural elements such as lace and tulle — glimmered beneath the bright stage lights. Dresses displayed a variety of shapes, including mermaid and sheath.

The hair and makeup was easily as exquisite as the attire. Lipstick in dark shades of plum was a theme, and most of the models walked with feathers, flowers, and scarves entangled in their hair. The 1980s called, and they were psyched about the crimping — also a common hairstyle on the runway.

After the finale run in which the models walked as a group, Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus’ senior vice president and fashion director who staged the show, skipped down the runway with his hands thrown in the air as the audience cheered him on.

As guests flooded out of the Great Hall, they were met by vendors serving miniature versions of guilty pleasures, including cheeseburger sliders, buffalo hot dogs, and egg rolls. Several rooms were open to the guests as part of the Lincoln Black Label After Party. A particularly lively room featured a DJ alongside a drummer, who emphatically beat his electric drums to the rhythm of the fast-paced remixes. Hundreds of guests took to the dance floor between stopping at the open bar and munching on gourmet popcorn.

In addition to the 540 tickets sold, which included both admission to the fashion show and the succeeding soiree, 400 tickets granting only admission to the after-party were sold. All proceeds directly benefited the Founders Junior Council’s recent pledge of $1 million to the DIA’s endowment campaign.

Read more about the Fash Bash in our August issue.

Sarah Farnam is a summer intern. When she isn’t writing papers or crafting advertising campaigns for her classes, she is touring the Midwest with her band, Infinity Now.