On Jan. 23, EnspiRED, the University’s student-run fashion organization, hosted an Instagram-worthy event right here on campus in celebration of its 10th anniversary: Rouge. Rouge was a fashion show meant to bring awareness to the arts, not only on campus, but also to the Fleming Elementary School community in Detroit, to which the event’s proceeds went. Reminiscent of Fashion Week, the long runway was surrounded by rows of seats for family and friends alike to truly appreciate the unique styles that strutted down the catwalk.
The event was comprised of eight individual themed scenes. Accompanied with videos, music and fabulous walks to match, the varied themes included mimes, dolls, clowns and in true freakshow fashion, monsters. With a lively and packed room, LSA senior Brysan Porterfield, EnspiRED president, said this year’s show yielded the largest amount of donations so far.
Rouge featured apparel and accessories from many designers that ranged from local Ann Arbor businesses to University alumni and high profile chains. Pitaya, Verbana, Victoria’s Secret, Ragstock and Today’s Clothing, to name a few, loaned clothes for the Rouge event. Local designers such as Grant Henerson and Caleb Moss also helped curate looks. With apparel supplied from such varied sources, the range in fashion ensembles we saw crossed lines and transcended boundaries.
With an impressive and expansive array of sponsors, EnspiRED’s event was calculated and ultra posh. This atmosphere was exemplified by all of the little extras the org provided, from freshly popped popcorn and colorfully spun cotton candy before the show to the various raffles and prizes that were given to lucky guests with a winning ticket.
Though the fashion seemed an afterthought compared to the show’s stunning theatrics, it was far from forgettable. Among the various thematic “scènes,” aesthetic standouts included the Scène du Clown, Scène de la Poupee, Scène la Rue and Scène Sauvage. The opening Scène du Clown consisted of relatively tame looks in comparison to the rest, but was punctuated with playful touches — punchy, bright makeup, jugglers and a skirt replete with balloons.
The models in the Scène de la Poupee channeled their inner dolls with more fanciful, delicate dresses and tutus, with the makeup transforming models into mannequins. Models also slowed their sashays down the runway with an eerie stillness for a complete doll effect. Scène de la Rue showcased the most wearable looks — activewear, ripped jeans, boss vests and an unforgettable gold jacket for the adventurous menswear shopper. Things took a more risqué turn as the models of Scène Burlesque nearly bared all in lingerie of the lace, silk and net varieties. The penultimate Scène Sauvage also took a strong activist stance, stressing the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement. Models rocked nearly every subtype of dress — prep, hippie, boho, professional and urban trendy.
Needless to say, the Daily Style Squad was impressed with the sheer amount of talent and fashion choices we saw. However, what does it take to plan an event like this each year?
Turns out, a lot of hard work went into putting on Rouge, from choosing the theme to deciding between the carefully curated models. With the planning beginning in early September of last year, LSA junior Ify Odum, EnspiRED Image Consultant, explained to the Daily that it takes “a lot of teamwork, communication and dedication to pull off a show like this.”
Besides planning the themes and coordinating the logistics for an event such as this, there is also the key task of assembling the models and the style looks. Everything from the clothing, down to the makeup and props used on the runway, was specially designed and curated for each scene’s theme.
“Model coordinators work with fashion consultants and creative directors to ensure that the models we chose for this year’s show had the right walk, attitude and confidence,” Odum said.
EnspiRED’s model coordinators are specifically responsible for choosing which outfits each model would wear based upon what they were comfortable with as well as what the coordinator’s vision was for the theme.
This wasn’t an easy process, Odum said, adding that it took hours of fitting sessions to decide and coordinate individual ensembles. To choose what each model was going to wear in relation to the different scenes, Odum and fellow image consultant, Darbee Pass, also an LSA junior, both worked for two days straight to decide individual outfits and get the fittings perfected.
And just like in typical runway show fashion, there was little input from the models themselves, in terms of the outfits and makeup they adorned. That was left up to the image and fashion consultants to decide.
Beauty is a huge part of any stylized look; hair and makeup can make or break an outfit choice. Makeup artists drew inspiration for the makeup looks by working with the scenes that the models were in. For this show in particular, the makeup and hair was unique, trendy and flawless.
In addition to the fashions, what impressed us was the professionalism of each model. Right away we knew this wasn’t going to be just a fashion show run by University students. The confidence, grace and pure passion each student had on and off the runway made the experience all the more fun and authentic.
“The models practiced every Sunday for two hours for about four months,” Odum said. In addition, in order to walk in the runway show, each model had to do one day of community service. One option was volunteering at the local children’s Hands on Museum, holding true to the organization’s mission of bringing awareness to the arts in our local communities, especially amongst creative youths.
“Each model had their own reasons for modeling, whether it was to get over a fear or just to strut their stuff,” Odum said.
Having raised just shy of $1,000 for Fleming Elementary’s arts programs, Rouge was fashion for a significant cause, in support of creativity amongst University students as well as our local communities.