I couldn’t think of a better ending to a day of worldwide activism.
This past Saturday night, student organization EnspiRED presented their annual runway show in the main lobby at the Alfred A. Taubman Biomedical Research Building.
The night began with a VIP pre-show featuring a complimentary buffet, gift bags and a live performance by singer-songwriter Rella. The pre-show chatter consisted of attendees complimenting one another's outfits and taking pictures for the ‘gram.
Around 6:45 — the show was slated to begin at 7 — the speakers cut from Rella’s velvety vocals to the thumping, uncensored beats of hip hop's current hits (think "Bad and Boujee," "Caroline"). General admission audience members began filing in from all entrances. Though most appeared to be close friends and family of the EnspiRED team, the excitement throughout the event space was palpable.
The show began at approximately 7:30. Titled “Urban Behavior,” it featured eight separate “scenes,” which functioned as mini fashion shows with their own individual sub-themes, ranging from “City Necessities” to “For Us, By Us.” The production kicked off with a dimming of the lights, and soon the audience was immersed in a dreamy string of Detroit-centered visuals created by University student Corey Johnson. Soon, models of every race and size were parading up and down the runway, eliciting boisterous cheers from the ever-involved crowd (think: “YES CANDACE! GET IT GIRL!” as the model in question strode about in her streetwear-inspired garb).
The clothing was provided by a wide range of designers, from the Detroit based-youngsters at 51/50 to monster brands like Windsor. Styling the outfits entailed some occasional gender-bending: Girls strode as confidently in basketball shorts as their male counterparts did in pink pantsuits.
Although every look was beautiful, what struck me most was the kinship between model and audience member. The entire night felt remarkably familial, especially given the fashion world’s frequent association with coldness. Urban Behavior was less about the clothes, and more about the sense of unity that the event fostered.
Midway through the show, EnspiRED’s Community Service Chairs took to the runway to let everyone know what the purpose of the event really was. Everyone in the organization is involved in some form of service, the girls explained, and this year EnspiRED had come together to raise funds for Northwestern High School in Flint. They would even be holding an activity day at the school in February with the intent of preparing students for their futures.
The show closed with homage to peaceful protest in Scene 8, “By Us, For Us.” Models paraded across the stage holding signs that boasted positive messages, such as “Save Our Earth,” “Yes Means Yes” and the timely “Feminism is Equality.” Each provoked a new spurt of cheers from even the very back row. I felt like I was re-experiencing the Ann Arbor Women’s March, which I had attended that afternoon, in an even more diverse, optimistic way.
EnspiRED’s Urban Behavior was inclusive in the truest sense. For the first time since my arrival at the University, I finally felt like I was experiencing genuine diversification. The organization presents our campus with a pocket of beauty seldom found in a whitewashed, pessimistic world.