Sarah Lapinski and Sarah Lurtz, designers of the local menswear label Wound, wanted a unique venue to show off their new collection. The Sarahs asked themselves: What's the biggest engineering feat we could pull off?
During their perpetual search for the cheapest place to park in the city, the duo developed an affinity for the People Mover. It has stellar views, it's high-profile, the scenery is constantly changing the perfect setting for a fashion show, no? Although the concept seemed pie-in-the-sky, the Sarahs easily scored clearance to host their fashion show inside the People Mover itself, a feat that still shocks them.
"They're serious over there. They run it like it's an airplane. We thought we would have to do it renegade-style," Lurtz says.
It's a happy coincidence that the People Mover fits so perfectly with the show's cheeky theme, "Official Business." The two were regularly appalled (and amused) by how badly most professionals dress and they saw plenty of fashion misdemeanors, given their headquarters: the Pure Detroit Design Lab, smack-dab in the middle of the downtown business district.
Incorporating themes of travel and secret agents, with such props as briefcases and business cards, the fashion show weaves sordid fictional tales of business trips gone awry and top-secret missions foiled by faulty electronics.
Here's the plan: Meet at the Financial District Station at 3:30 p.m. sharp on the day of the show, Saturday, March 11 (entry is the mere 50 cents it costs for turnstile fare). From there, guests will board the People Mover, taking them to their final runway destination. The gals have rounded up a fine crew of Detroit's most fetching gentlemen musicians: Jeffrey Thomas of the Genders, Chris Pottingers of Cotton Museum, Rob Smith of Paik, and Zachary Weedon of Lee Marvin Computer Arm.
"The rocker-boys know how to wear our stuff," Lurtz says.
Current Wound favorite Jamie Easter (who's collaborating with the designers and modeling the final product) will display a special collection of his artwork: charmingly deformed creatures, silk-screened on shirts designed by the Sarahs, as well as a series of T-shirts donated by one of the show's sponsors, Alternative Apparel.
As anyone who's seen Bravo's Project Runway knows, throwing a fashion show is a major undertaking which often results in fits, tears, stress-meltdowns and, occasionally, hair-pulling.
Not so with the Sarahs. At their sewing studio (the attic of Lapinski's new home in southwest Detroit), just a few weeks before showtime, the girls were still a long way from finishing, but laughing and relishing the work (they've been toiling away for more than 20 hours a week for the past four months). Due to the high volume of work for their first solo Wound show, the duo hired a few seamstresses to help with final details.
The girls won't make a dime on the fashion show, aside from any ties or T's they sell at the afterparty at the Design Lab (profits that will ultimately go toward recouping their production costs). But they hope to attract buyers to the show, in the hope that a select few will decide to take a chance on Wound and carry the line in stores.
Lurtz and Lapinski spent four days in New York last summer and brought home 40 pounds of fabric in deep eggplant, olive, inky black, charcoal and espresso. While there's a heightened sense of indie charm and irreverence to the show, the clothing itself is surprisingly wearable.
"We tried to design things that normal guys can wear not just our rocker-model boys. There are conventional pieces," Lurtz says.
Expect to see tailored slacks, jackets, sweater-style crews and hoodies, ties and scarves, and outerwear each piece with unexpected, clever detailing. The obligatory trench coat is crafted from sports nylon, lined in jersey mesh with parachute stripping under the arms, a pleated back-flap, a double row of useless buttons ("There's nothing wrong with a little clutter," Lapinski quips) and oversized lapels for a clandestine look. Very Brooks Brothers-meets-Inspector Gadget. A pair of herringbone trousers feature three rows of stitching, matching military strapping, back pockets with switched grain, and a stealthy pocket-within-a-pocket for your corporate (or fake) ID.
(There are also some quilted jodhpurs and skintight snakeskin pants for the more daring).
"The collection has a dirtiness to it ... in a way that you're masking yourself," Lapinski says. "It's very incognito."
"We're all over the place with our message," Lurtz says. "And it's always changing. We have a political stance"
"Mixed in with our personal interests," Lapinski finishes.
If you're paying attention, you just might find as much, hidden in the seams of one of their shirttails flouncing down the transit runway.
Boarding time starts at 3:30 p.m. sharp at the People Mover's Financial District Station (on West Larned, between Shelby and Griswold) on Saturday, March 11. For more info, visit puredetroitdesignlab.com.Meghan McEwen is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]