As part of their VOTE! 2018 initiative, the University of Michigan Museum of Art partnered with SHEI Magazine, Bronze Elegance Fashion Show, NOiR Runway Fashion and enspiRED to put on a voting-themed fashion show Monday night. Also present were students from the Stamps School of Art and Design’s Voting is Sexy class and members from the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning who were helping about 75 students in attendance come up with a voting plan for Tuesday’s election.
The show was the culmination of a series of events about voting and civic engagement that has been going on all fall at the museum. Lisa Borgsdorf, manager of Public Programs at UMMA, said she thought the fashion show was a great way to make voting fun.
“We were really thinking about motivation to go to the polls, and making it fun … (and) a way to do that that gets a lot of people here, and hopefully that translates to getting a lot of people to the polls,” Borgsdorf said. “It’s such a serious time, it’s such a big midterm election. It’s very important, but we also felt like there was room to have fun with it for the purpose of motivating people.”
LSA junior Sarah Jacob, a member of the UMMA Student Engagement Council, said she felt the fashion show was a great way to motivate people who were interested in the arts to vote.
“I think it’s a really cool way to the keep the conversation going about voting,” Jacob said. “I think this is one of the years that I’ve heard people talk the most about midterm elections which has been crazy because that’s not usually the case, so I think adding a fashion show really brings in the arts, and forces people who don’t think they are political to just think about the fact that they should be voting.”
The show was split into two parts — the first focused on what to wear to the polls. The models walked the makeshift runway wearing jackets, scarves and jeans, all in fall hues. LSA senior Kamaaria Sanders, an executive board member of Bronze Elegance Fashion Show, said she thought fashion and politics were deeply related, even though people might not think about it.
“Fashion plays a huge role in politics,” Sanders said. “If you think about how people dress when they are politicians, they are very particular about what they pick, as we were particular about what we picked in the show, like the tones, even though it’s something you don’t really pay attention to.”
Engineering senior Lauren Huang, an executive board member of NOiR Runway Fashion, agreed with Sanders and said she felt fashion had a large influence over elections.
“Depending on what (a politician is) wearing, it will give you the vibe or tone of what they’re standing for, or what they’re trying to get at,” Huang said. “Sometimes, if someone’s not dressed the right way, you might not vote for them or not believe what they’re trying to say. But if they are dressed the right way and look very presentable, that will affect people’s opinions and their vote towards that person.”
The second section of the show was America themed, with models strutting down the runway in “I voted” and “voting is my superpower” T-shirts or more subtle red, white and blue looks, while Childish Gambino’s “This is America” played in the background.
After the models did their final walk, LSA senior Liv Velarde, editor-in-chief of SHEI Magazine, closed out the show by asking everyone in attendance to vote Tuesday.