Tag Archives: new hotness

Teachable Moments Woven Into Fashion – Part 2

Lights…camera…fashionand teachable moments. Rip The Runway Detroit Style took place last Thursday at The Fillmore Theater in Detroit, Michigan. It was modeled off of the hit fashion show that airs yearly on BET, also called Rip The Runway. The organizer spent two years putting together the event, and she made a commendable effort.  However, she missed some small, yet very key elements to keep her event from being viewed as unprofessional by many of the veterans  in fashion who attended with expectations of something grand. The will call list vanished. This is never good. People who pay money may not want the hassle of keeping up with their tickets and prefer will call because they expect to be able to enter the event without issues. This was not the case. Many seats in front of the stage were empty, yet the back of the theater was full. Whenever you have empty chairs towards the front, it’s customary to invite people sitting towards the back to fill those empty seats. This is particularly important for televised or video recorded events because it gives the illusion of a full house, even if there isn’t one. The NBA does this all the time for basketball games that don’t sell out but are being televised. It’s a free upgrade that is mutually benefiting to the organizer and the patron.

There were too many lags between designers being presented. The Rip The Runway fashion show that is held by BET is edited after the live event to accommodate for commercials. However, the live event is a steady and consistent stream of performers and models. In between, the hosts should fill the time until they are prompted for the next segment to begin. Although veteran DJ Gary Chandler played music during the lag times, it was annoying to people who came to see a fashion show, not a DJ. There were times when you had no idea who the designers or performers were because the monitors weren’t displaying the information and they weren’t properly introduced. This created a lot of “who IS that?” conversation among the audience. Comedian Coolaide and Horace H.B. Sanders hosted the event and were pretty funny, which kept people entertained, however was still annoying to those who came to see a fashion show, not a comedy show.

I heard a lot of complaints about the design of the set. The set was a huge brick wall that resembled a rooftop, with graffiti that wasn’t very artistically done, and two doors for the entertainers to walk out of. There were trash cans on the set, with simulated “garbage” on the floors, which were marked to resemble streets, and street signs posted on poles on both sides of the stage. The street signs didn’t seem to be an issue with anyone because they had the names of the designers and stores on them (clever). However, the trash cans, brick wall and simulated “garbage” came across as offensive because it saidSo, this is what you think Detroit looks like?”  It was one of those concepts that required more due diligence prior to execution. Much like the owners of Biggby Coffee calling themselves Beaners when they first opened, or the JS Roundhouse Mids from Adidas that had chains around the ankles. Everything that we think is new hotness at the time, could be offensive to others if we’re not careful. I also heard a lot of quips about the clothes themselves. The complaint was that most of the clothes were too plain and were clothes that people either already own and were wearing. Sound familiar? People attending the show were more fashionably dressed than the models were. When you produce a fashion show, it’s not always about what you like; you have to consider your audience and what they may like as well.  

Some of the rappers who performed passed out their cds to the crowd before or after their performances. Instead, it would’ve been a better idea to have the performers provide their cds to the event organizer by a specified date so they could be included in the VIP gift bags, since the gifts bags were empty. Yes, I said empty. Large, gold, sparkly gift bags with two fliers inside were passed out to VIP attendees. VIP attendees were also given beverages in fast food cups with lids and straws. Yet, if you bought a drink from the bar, you received a more tasteful cup to drink it from. What’s the point in being a VIP if you have to drink from a fast food cup?

One of the better performances of the night took place by John Brown. Having been blessed to have heard John Brown sing a capella, I can attest to his vocal talent. John seemed in his element on the stage, without over shadowing what was taking place around him. John put on a show. It would’ve been nice if some of the other performers had put on a show during their time on stage as well. It’s what we’ve grown to expect from Rip The Runway.  

This may seem to some as me being critical. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t get paid for my opinion therefore I’m not obligated to lie. This review includes actual feedback that I received from veterans in the fashion industry that were in the room, not just my opinion. It is constructive criticism which is necessary, and should be welcomed, when you are attaching your name to something that is synonymous with style. Although a good attempt was made, it could’ve been better. This wasn’t the worst fashion show I’ve seen. There were two others that come to mind that were worse than Rip The Runway Detroit Style. I will also commend this event for taking place at an indoor theater, with air conditioning, that had kind, professional and considerate staff. The Fillmore is a very nice facility and their staff should be commended for the work they did to assist with the event overall.

Again, you are welcome to formulate your own opinions when it comes to fashion shows in Detroit. I truly believe that in all of our business ventures and creative productions, we need to raise our standards and our personal expectations, and stop being afraid of doing something different. New is not a bad word. We also have to know our strengths and develop our teams based on who possesses the qualities and abilities that we may lack.  Just because you have been a model, it doesn’t mean you can produce a fashion show or design the clothes. Sometimes we have to stop being too proud and ask people who have more experience with the production aspect to become involved. There are a lot of people in the fashion industry in Detroit, who are subject matter experts. They have made or witnessed mistakes so that you don’t have to. Hire them. Ask them to consult on your event. If you’re putting on any kind of show, hold a dress rehearsal and video record it so that you can watch and see what people attending will also see. This will give you the opportunity to make adjustments and improvements to protect your brand. In the end you’re likely to have a better production that you will be proud to have viewed by the entire world.

~ When you know better, you do better.

Click here to watch a clip of John Brown’s performance and the Rip The Runway Detroit Style Show

I Get It…I Really Do…

I’ve come to realize that Detroiters have a mindset unlike many other urban areas. The mindset that Detroiters have is one that says that Detroit is the only place on Earth where there are difficulties – in the school systems, in the economy and in the workforce.

That mindset is untrue.

However, that mindset permeates throughout the community, regardless of how many times we see other urban school districts show their educational issues or hear about how many absentee fathers there are in other cities, or see other people talking about how difficult it is for them to pay bills and buy groceries. Detroiters still believe they stand out and alone in every area. To a degree, we do. But we don’t. We have the same identical issues that almost every other urban area in the United States has. We really do. The difference is that we don’t use the same mechanisms they use to change our situation here. We think we’re SO different from everyone else that what has been done somewhere else, just won’t work here, without even trying it first. That’s what keeps us separate and unequal.

Detroit doesn’t TRY to make changes using the examples set by leaders in other urban cities to change the way things are in Detroit. Detroiters don’t like change. They like to complain. Detroiters don’t believe in tearing down buildings to rebuild. They just build new buildings next to the old ones. Detroiters don’t like to try anything new. Detroiters just seem to like doing the same things the same way, over and over again.  

Fear of CHANGE holds us hostage in Detroit more than anything else does. And excuse making is holding the gun to our heads.

Although I am the first to admit that we do have issues, including the lack of reliable mass transportation that other urban areas do have, I get tired of people who live in Detroit complaining about what we don’t have instead of using what we do have to make things better. The idea that we don’t have successful people living, working and contributing in Detroit is why magazines like UPTOWN, which prints a monthly Detroit edition, only has about 4 pages in it about Detroit. As a publishing company I’m sure they are thinking ‘Why print it if no one cares?‘  As a businesswoman, I see their point of view. As a writer, I want a freelance job to prove them wrong and showcase my own talents.   

Entrepreneurs often have a difficult time using the ‘if you build it, they will come’ model of business ingenuity when it comes to Detroit.  There are so many people who live here, yet they don’t know what’s going on in the city, who people in the city are or what the city has to offer. However, other people move here from other cities, and countries, open businesses, become successful and talk about the opportunities the city has to offer like this city was built yesterday. 

Why is it that people outside Detroit see the potential in the city, but people who live here don’t?  I think that is a large part of all of the issues. If you live here, but don’t know what good there is here, how can you take advantage of it? That, of course, is rhetorical.

Detroiters complain about the school systems and that children aren’t receiving quality educations. Yet Detroiters don’t use head start programs for their children or build an educational and disciplinary foundation at home so teachers don’t have to be wardens and teachers for eight hours everyday. Teachers in DPS are some of the most underpaid and over qualified teachers in comparison to other school districts and charter and private schools. Detroiters complain about the lack of jobs. But when companies open locations in downtown Detroit and hire, they don’t apply because they don’t want to work downtown. Or people won’t seek and attend job training for jobs that are available because they want to stick to building cars. Detroiters complain that there aren’t any upscale venues to go to dine or be entertained, but when upscale venues open, they don’t support them. Then they complain when the venues close.

Detroiters are so hard to please.

No city is an island or the epitome of all-inclusive. I travel because I like to see what other cities have or don’t. I like the experience of something different from what I’m exposed to in Detroit on a daily basis. As a result, I see the differences and still appreciate what Detroit has to a degree that I don’t think many other people do. But I’m just one person. I vote, I’m involved in the community, I stand up and fight when necessary against the things I see that are wrong on behalf of others regularly. But I’m just one person who is trying to set an example that I hope someone else will continue one day. Yes, I get it…I really do. Detroit has its problems; education, transportation, economic and societal. But Detroit’s biggest problem is the people within the boundaries of it and how we see the city as a separate entity, independent from its citizens,  instead of as a result of what we don’t do to make it better.

Detroit makes you want to quit. In my travels I’ve experienced different types of events, venues, locations, and attractions. I would love to bring the new hotness here for people to enjoy. But just like everything else that is new, it takes Detroiters a long time to embrace it… or even notice it for that matter. By the time Detroit knows about something, it’s already extinct in other cities. Sometimes I feel like we’re the only city in the world moving backwards instead of forwards. I understand why creative people feel the need to leave the city. I get it…I really do. Thanks to the encouragement of my team, who worked so hard, I’m going to try, just a few more times to see if I can bring Detroit forward. I decided to press ahead with Sequins & Suits and coordinate it with the I Feel Good: Mind, Body & Soul Women’s Conference in August of this year. I’m changing venues, and eliminating the bad business relationships and bringing in people who want to partner and produce something positive, new and necessary.

BUT I’m not going to keep giving Detroiters chances to disappointment me over and over. Much like J. Dilla, I can take my talents elsewhere and leave a mark as a legend. I have those options and other cities love creative people with fresh ideas and approaches – particularly ones that can become financially lucrative.  And it doesn’t hurt that I’m pretty. So even if Detroit doesn’t believe in Super Woman, somewhere else definitely will. I’m going to do what I said I would, and hold to my commitments, because that is how I am. But Detroit needs to show up or there won’t be anymore Super Events held here.

♦ Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  – Proverb