“EnspiRED differs because it’s not a fashion organization. It’s an organization based in the arts. It’s […] made up of artists. Everyone on the e-board, we’re artists in some way. We have […] all of these brilliant creative minds, who put aside their own artistic endeavors to raise money for this charity and to produce an event. We all do these separate things, but we all come together and work towards this one show, this brilliant show for everyone to enjoy.”
— Tyrell Collier, former president of EnspiRED and University of Michigan alumnus ('14)
On January 25th, an E-Board of endeavoring artists presented to 550 University of Michigan students, alumni, and parents the 9th annual EnspiRED Charity Runway Show: Red Express. Donning dress shirts, furs, plunging necklines, and heels, the show’s audience members arrived at the Biomedical Science Research Building, mirroring the caliber of fashion showcased on the runway. Such reflection is indicative of how EnspiRED influences and encourages self-expression within the collegiate community.
Red Express presented fashions representative of seven countries: Russia, Japan, India, England, America, Ghana, and Brazil. It concluded with an eighth scene, in which models styled their own garments in accordance with the colors of the organization: red, black, and white. Alex Worix, LSA senior and model, described the theme as being an incisive look into an abundance of cultures. "It’s the Red Express," Worix said. "We’re going around the world. So we bring each and every part of us and our personality to the plate.”
Set to backdrops of time lapse footage of the feature cities, Red Express was an accumulation of international aesthetics. Its success was largely due to the cohesive collection of atmospheric, visual, and musical elements that aided in transporting viewers from their seats into virtual metropolises.
MOSCOW, the opening scene, featured artificial snow and clothing from the Junae’ Raye Collection, modeled to the sounds of The Art of Noise’s "Moments in Love." The slow tempo enabled the dramatic and measured entrances of the models. This prolonged exposure introduced the models to the audience and set the stage for the heavier collections clustered at the outset. MOSCOW’s ensembles were a unique collection of neutral sportswear. Standout pieces included a draping hooded crop top, a quilted vinyl high low dress, and luscious fur coats. In the aesthetic of Juane' Raye, the styling accentuated one’s ability to play with different textures, layers and shapes, and ultimately garnered one’s appreciation for the subtleties of fashion.
TOKYO consisted mainly of a black and white palette set to "Talk About" by Les Sins, featuring clothing from Verbena. The garments ranged from sportswear to evening wear and also exhibited mesh, a mixture of body con and straight silhouettes, geometric prints, and clean lines.
MUMBAI shifted the mood with Lookas & Dirty Audio’s remix of "Beware Of The Boys." The song’s upbeat tempo gave models an opportunity to be interactive and also provided a backdrop for the rich fabrics and colors of Orchard Lane’s apparel. Claps, shouts, and verbal praise accompanied the models’ idiosyncratic poses mid-runway. The energy of the room was embodied in the cropped tops, exposed midriffs, vibrant solids, and flowing prints of maxi skirts.
LONDON, composed of clothing from Pitaya, the Juane’ Raye Collection, and Spectacles, took a suave and broad approach set to sounds by Abjo. From snake skin to camo, the English theme offered a wide range of silhouettes, textures and prints. The presence of eclectic elements was offset with an emphasis on layering and composition. Memorable items included a plethora of hats, ranging from fur pillboxes and trappers to plaid caps. LONDON epitomized the blend of high and low fashion displayed throughout the show.
DETROIT brought the show out of intermission with “I Don’t F*** With You” by Big Sean. Immediately heads were bobbing and bodies were swaying in the audience as models donned everyday urban wear from Detroit Sports Mania, Detroit vs. Everybody, Cool Club Clothing, Spectacles, and Anjeil. Leather, camo and jersey-inspired dresses accompanied beanies, Shmoney dances, and laughter from the crowd. The popular track and conventional attire gave models the chance to interact with the audience, revealing a bit of their personalities. The collection, which incorporated music from a Detroit native, showcased clothing from Detroit companies and the president of EnspiRed Cyrus Tetteh, and selected student models with roots in the city, was distinguished by its authenticity.
GHANA was introduced by the sounds of the drum group, Nano Djiapo. African textiles from the African Student Association were used to fuse the traditional with conventional: African prints embellished body con dresses, blazers, wrap skirts, and peplum tops that were paired with jeans or cut-off shorts. Nano Djiapo returned for the outro, and the audience clapped along with the rhythmic din of the djembe drums, proving that EnspiRED is not exclusively a fashion show, but an immersive experience in the arts.
RIO shifted the disposition of the GHANA chapter from an audible to a visible feast, as the first model took to the runway donning a bikini and a live snake. Sheer and thin fabrics moved with the models in the form of cover-ups, wraps, wide-legged palazzo pants, and maxi sundresses. Vibrant clashes of warm and cool colors transported the audience to Brazil. But the most convincing elements were the exhibits of bare skin, accredited to a plethora of bikinis by Shani Iman, high waisted shorts, swim trunks, and crop tops.
The show concluded with the announcement of Arts & Scraps as the beneficiary of Red Express's proceeds. Arts & Scraps is a non-profit organization that encourages Detroit kids to creatively engage with recycled materials repurposed into art supplies. In addition, Darnell Hood, Michigan alumnus and founder of EnspiRED, shared his vision to establish a platform for various art forms at the University. Today, EnspiRED continues to implement Hood’s desires through other campus events that serve as channels of exposure for creative and aesthetic talents of students.
Arguably, the most rewarding part of Red Express was not exposure to compositionally diverse fashions; rather, it was the show’s ability to simultaneously give students of the University a chance to support, experience, and celebrate the collective capacities of their peers while fostering community in a high fashion and entertaining environment.
Photos and videos courtesy of EnspiRED's, Jessica Gray's, Arnold Reed's and Bre Wyrick's Facebook and Instagram pages.