Bronze Elegance (BE) started at the University in 1978, but this year they’ve rebranded. The student organization is breaking free from previous perceptions, members said, and resituating themselves as an organization rooted in diversity, philanthropy and fashion. When asked what she wants people to think when they hear the words “Bronze Elegance,” Christan Worthy, LSA junior and Bronze Elegant President said “We’re a fashion org to be reckoned with, we’re not playing around, we have serious connections and we’re serious about our charity. We’re a pretty dope organization.”
Worthy isn’t kidding when she says that Bronze Elegance has some serious connections. Outside of the University’s Central Student Government and LSA, the organization graciously accepts donations — and in the past year, they’ve received a donation from Ty Hunter, Beyoncé’s personal stylist. The organization reached out to him through his business. Hunter is the creator of Ty-Lite. Ty-Lite is a protective light-up phone case to better-lit selfies. Celebrities everywhere have been seen with the product, from Queen Bey herself, all the way to Kim Kardashian. After BE reached out to the company, they got a reply from Ty himself, stating that he would be donating to the organization. Talk about a connection.
Each year, Bronze Elegance puts on a fashion show that only reinforces the fact that the organization is not one to be ignored. Planning for each aspect starts as early as the year prior. Members are required to make a presentation explaining what they believe next year’s theme should be, and not only must the theme be decided upon, so does the charity. The organization is completely non-profit; every single dollar raised goes to a designated foundation each year.
This year, BE selected the Covenant House of Michigan, a shelter in Detroit for abused and neglected women and children. Last year, they raised around $4,000 toward Detroit Public Schools, and they are hoping to raise a similar amount this year. But the organization likes to go beyond contributing monetary funds — BE has also held clothing drives and organizes workshops for the people whom Covenant House shelters.
In terms of theme, Worthy said this year's came from multiple ideas meshed into one cohesive concept. Thus, “Alternate Reality” was born.
“A lot of people don’t get it, but the point is you aren’t supposed to,” Worthy said. “It’s going to be weird.”
LSA sophomore Matthew Thomas, who currently serves as one of two stylists for Bronze Elegance, is extremely excited about this year’s theme. “It focuses on different realities, and that’s incorporated in the clothes. The looks all correspond with each other, but differ from scene to scene,” Thomas said.
“Alternate Reality” was comprised of six scenes, two of which were divided in half, and featured over 100 looks in total. The clothing was commissioned from across the country, including pieces by student designers from both the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and Parsons School of Design, local freelance designers and New York-based designer Laurel Dewitt.
Worthy connected with Dewitt — who recently presented her Fall 2016 collection at 1Oak during New York Fashion Week — through social media. Dewitt’s intricate work with metal has allowed her to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. She has worked with celebrities like Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and even designed Beyoncé’s headpiece featured in the “Hymm for the Weekend” music video. Dewitt flew in for the Bronze Elegance event and her designs closed out the show.
“Genesis Part One” kicked off the event on a slow, sensual note. The models paced slowly down the runway in clothing that stuck to a monotone, nude palette. The women rocked form fitting beige body suits, while the men sported light khakis and plain white tees. The models came through once more, the second time with a red streak painted on their left arm. “Genesis Part Two” picked up the pace. Sticking to the same palette, this scene exhibited an array of layered sweaters, bomber jackets and sweater dresses.
“Daze Part One,” took audience members into a dreamlike reality. The models muddled down the runway in a sleepy trance before awakening at the end, striking a pose and strutting back. The women modeled long, see-through white gowns adorned with floral appliqués and the men wore blue and white printed pajamas. “Daze Part Two” then took the audience to an alternate nighttime reality, lifting the runway from its slumber and entering into party phase. Fun cocktail dresses, like a hot pink mini with a deep sweetheart neckline and a super stylish two-piece floral get up, paraded down the runway.
“Trippy” began with an EDM performer twirling a crystal ball and flags. Trippy, indeed. This scene featured an array of ultra cool looks; overalls paired with a sparkly gold bandeau, a Bel-Air Academy basketball jersey, a leather jacket matched with a white crop top and colorful lip print leggings. One model came down the runway in grey and black jogger pants and a hooded sweatshirt.
“Regal” featured garments hand-crafted by designer Laurel DeWitt. There was an array of two-piece sets that came down the runway, such as crop tops and high skirts, all in the color gold. Cage dresses (which were quite literally formed like a cage due to the metal structure and make-up), high-low dresses, shorts and rompers all stunned as they clinked down the runway. Because the material used for these pieces is metal, the light danced off the garments, which created a beautiful and natural movement. There was one piece in particular that demanded attention as the model stepped out. Again, it was an all-metal dress, but this time it wasn’t the typical gold or silver, it was made up of different circular colored discs. Greens, blues, pinks and red all made this dress something to take note of. Since it was made up of metal circular discs, the dress itself was able to move more freely across the models body. This, paired with the colors, created a Roma-inspired look. All of the metal wearing models were women but a jean wearing, topless man accompanied each one.
“Forbidden Fruit” was the next scene and it really lived up to its name. Carried throughout the whole segment, was the obvious sense of sex appeal. Before the models even stepped out, the crowd listened to a narrative told by the soft voice of a woman. She was speaking about the man of her dreams, tall, dark and of course, handsome. Then it began with a male model, in a dark blue polka dotted button up, confidently strutting towards the crowd. The scene continued with female models being escorted to the center stage, as the male went to the end. The two would then meet back up to leave the runway, but before they did, there were many instances where the models touched each each other and were even on the verge of kissing. Lots of leather fringe items made their way into the scene. Most of the pieces were primarily mini-dresses, except for one, though it still fit the theme of forbidden. It was a black leather dress that fit the model’s body like a glove, featuring a plunging-V, long sleeves and cutting off right at the knee. This dress was so fitted, that it could easily be mistaken for latex. The infamous dress was the one to bring the scene to a close.
“Rapid Fire” started off with a bang. Five interpretive dancers came onto the runway to give a breathtaking performance. Coordinated, quick movements, set the tone for the rapid fire to come. The garments were brighter in this scene. Bodysuits, dresses, casual day-to-night looks, all took the runway. The male models were dressed in suits and looked ready to attend whatever important business meeting may head their way. One dress that was especially “fire” was a red, faux fur dress. Paired with an overcoat, this dress was unique to the entire show. The scene was quick and punchy with each garment leaving its own mark.
“Comma” closed “Alternate Reality.” Again, designer Laurel DeWitt created the pieces in this final scene and everything was quite similar to the “Regal.” This time there was no color and the models were adorned with headpieces, such as those featured on celebrities like Beyoncé. The entire Bronze Elegance executive board acted as models in this final scene. The formal wear for men was really striking, with accessories like a brushed metal bowtie, both simple, yet impactful. Finishing the show, BE’s president, Worthy, stepped out in a gold dress with a chain link cape. Worthy wore a golden crown and looked as if she were not only the president of Bronze Elegance, but the Queen as well. After she made it to the end of the runway, the rest of the metal-clad executive board stepped out to say a few words, and the show came to a royal close.
The BE 2016 fashion show was bold, sexy and truly an art form. It kept its promise and succeeded in providing an alternate reality experience with its performers, voice overs and music. While providing a platform for students and designers to step out of their comfort zones and express themselves, this event was also meaningful, with all of its proceeds going toward the Covenant House. BE made an impact this year, and there are no signs of them slowing down. It’s clear that as an organization, they are passionate about what they do and are, to quote Worthy, “a fashion org to be reckoned with.”