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Halloween in August? Why not?
Rock the Runway, the 33rd annual Fash Bash fashion show Aug. 9 in Detroit, presented a lavish runway spectacle. But this year's crowd found much of its fun not in the fashions on the Fox Theatre stage, but in the parade of the funky, outre outfits on the other showgoers.
Take Elvis, who remains popular even a quarter-century after his death. Rick Bartus of West Bloomfield, Mich., rented an Elvis costume (the bell-bottomed, embellished jumpsuit from the king's later years). He attracted stares wherever he went. Perhaps it was his improbably thick black pompadour wig. Or maybe it was the way the lights glinted off his shiny Fender Mustang guitar.
Either way, Mr. Bartus turned heads, made folks laugh, posed for a lot of photographs, and thoroughly enjoyed his first Fash Bash. “There isn't any other place you can dress up and have fun like this,” he said.
Kristyn Posch of Grosse Pointe found inspiration in a Detroit icon: Madonna, in her Desperately Seeking Susan, mid-1980s incarnation. From the lace scarf in Ms. Posch's cloud of blond curls, to the large silver belt buckle that read “Sexy” (“because she's sexy and married and not a boy toy anymore”), she looked every inch the lucky star.
“Who else should I dedicate this night to but someone who's from Michigan?” she said. Sweeping a hand over her outfit, she added, “It's an ode to Madonna, and long overdue, I think.”
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Not everyone chose the celebrity route when it came to playing dress-up. Betsy Wood, a fashion design student at Wayne State University, created and wore a dress made of 36 men's neckties.
“This is dedicated to the men in my life,” she said, adding that the ties came from her grandfather and several male friends. “I want to make new fashions out of recycled materials — make something old into something new.”
And current events inspired folks, too. Five friends from Grosse Ile spent a week making their outfits: long red and white striped skirts with blue, starred tops.
“Especially with Sept. 11, it's important to have a patriotic theme,” explained Mary Beth Bodrie, one of the five.
That American spirit permeated the show inside. Actor Kevin Bacon, who sang and played guitar with his brother, Michael, wore a red, white, and blue shirt. Host Steven Cojocaru appeared at one point in a stars-and-stripes robe. And the show itself often drew from American themes, including segments showcasing denim and hippie styles.
The show's fashion sponsor, Saks Fifth Avenue, provided more than 200 outfits. Clothes came from such fashion stars as Badgley Mischka, Dolce & Gabbana, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Armani, Prada, Christian Dior, Ellen Tracy, Versace, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Hugo Boss, and Halston.
The styles themselves — leather jackets, cuffed slacks, tiered, flowing dresses, and even the eveningwear — looked attractive and wearable, if mostly devoid of the fantasy that fashion shows often inspire.
Hippie styles were reinterpreted in more current, bolder hues, including deep reds, greens, and purples. And while the colored animal print tights worn with several outfits probably wouldn't have appeared in collections 35 years ago, they seemed fresh and fun now.
The sleekest, and often edgiest, styles came in a section set to pulsing techno music.
Black, white, and red clothes with clean lines provided a counterpoint to the fringed and ruffled pieces of the other Fash Bash segments.
A black leather jacket with a red and white scoop pattern on the shoulders and chest set the tone for the segment, while a black dress with red, crisscrossing diagonal lines provided an elegant alternative to more traditional plaids elsewhere in the show.
Prices for the clothes shown ranged from about $100 for some of the T-shirts to $95,000 for a sable coat, said Cheryl Hall Lindsay, manager of public relations and special events for Saks in Troy, Mich.
“The clothes were chosen based on what we have in stock, or what we will have in stock,” Ms. Lindsay said. “Everything is available. That was the premise.”
“Every retailer [does] things like this for different reasons,” she added. “For some retailers, it's purely an image. For us, it's image and an invitation to come shopping, an invitation to buy.”
Proceeds from Fash Bash benefited the Detroit Institute of Arts.