NOiR fashion show
7 p.m. Sunday
At the Union Ballroom
$12

While most style-conscious women shop and read fashion magazines for leisure, the girls who make up NOiR’s executive board approach the fashion industry with a completely different conviction.

“Fashion’s important because it’s a way to unite people from everywhere, even if you like different types of fashion,” NOiR Production Director Alexandria Glispie explained. “Everybody kind of has their own style and their own fashion sense even if they aren’t aware of it.”

Glispie is one of seven executive members of NOiR, one of the University’s many fashion-oriented student organizations. And although the group is devoted to showing Ann Arbor the latest trends, that’s only a small part of what the group is about. NOiR integrates fashion with community service to propel awareness for many social issues — past ventures have included raising awareness for HIV/AIDS and domestic violence. It’s clear the members see the fashion industry as a vehicle for change.

“I think it’s a great way to communicate your opinion without words,” said Ashley Lee, LSA sophomore and NOiR’s finance director. “It’s a way to give a specific message without having to write it down to get it out.”

With a fall semester geared toward awareness campaigns, winter semester for NOiR is a hectic effort to produce a runway show that stays fashion-forward while displaying the importance of a chosen charity.

This year’s focus is on the environment, and the executive board has been working all semester to put together its 10th annual fashion show, titled “Decadence.” The show will run in the Union Ballroom at 7 p.m. on Sunday with an after party at 5th Quarter. Tickets are $12 and all proceeds from both the show and party will go to The Nature Conservancy to help prevent deforestation.

Perhaps just as notable as NOiR’s commitment to social awareness is the grandiose nature of its student-run show.

“There’s around 55 or 60 models — it’s a big show this year,” NOiR Creative Director Brittany Kozerski said. All the models are students, chosen in a December tryout.

Not only will the NOiR show benefit a great cause, but it’s also a chance for local designers and models to show their work. The clothes are all provided by local boutiques and designers, and students from Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University are also showing their creations. With former NOiR participants having moved on to professional modeling and designing careers (including NOiR founder and University alum Maryam Basir), those involved with the show are hoping it will be another small step toward making it big.

Evette Hollins, NOiR director of business affairs, explained the outlet that comes with participating in a NOiR fashion show: “NOiR is an opportunity for students on this campus to express a creative side that they wouldn’t normally be able to because we don’t have a fashion curriculum at the University of Michigan. So we try to give students an opportunity to get involved in all aspects — students as models, students as designers.”

“It’s really good experience to go into the professional world — I want to go into fashion journalism,” Kozerski added. “So it’s really helped, just having the leadership experience.”

With such a large show, Hollins and her colleagues hope to cater to as many individual tastes as possible.

“This show in particular, we’re trying to cover different personalities,” she said. “I want everyone to come to the show and be able to find someone who they aspire to look like or some sort of style they connect with.”

They promise the show will include everything from swimwear and lingerie to casual and party looks.

It’s NOiR’s enthusiasm for both fashion and the University that has driven it to create such a large-scale show.

“The University of Michigan is very diverse and here we try to reflect that in our shows,” Glispie said. “This is the number one public university in the nation, and we try to portray that by being the number one fashion show. We’re trying to make it as big as the school is to reflect all the students.”

Despite their desire to create an amazing show, NOiR’s members never lose sight of their main goal. They truly understand the power of fashion. Whether they see clothes as a means to unite a diverse campus or as a way of communicating new ideas, they understand the importance of social awareness and love what they’re doing at the same time.

NOiR Director of Social Affairs Danielle McDowell said it best when explaining how she became involved with the organization: “Being able to come here and fuse fashion and community service together, I thought it was just a great organization to be a part of.”

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