5Qs: DIA Founders Junior Council President Blake Ellis on the Fash Bash

Published August 2015, dbusiness.com

Now entering its fifth year in a new format, Fash Bash, the fashion-focused Founders Junior Council’s signature fundraising event, will be held at the Detroit Institute of Arts Thursday evening. DBusiness Daily News spoke with Blake Ellis, president of the Founders Junior Council at the DIA, on Fash Bash’s contribution to the city of Detroit, and what to expect from this year’s sold-out event.

1. DDN: What are the goals of the Founders Junior Council?

Our mission is to bring people down to the museum to support the (DIA), to support the arts in general, and ultimately raise funds for the DIA. We accomplish those goals by throwing different events throughout the year. Some are focused on the different exhibitions being held at the DIA, while others are pure fundraisers. Fash Bash is our major fundraiser of the year that we’ve been holding in the summer time, and it’s just a great way to basically accomplish all the goals of the Founders Junior Council.

2. DDN: What are the responsibilities of the organization when it comes to Fash Bash?

Our duties are to make sure we not only have a very fun, over-the-top event that our patrons are accustomed to, but also that it’s very successful in terms of fundraising. We want to make sure we have all the thrills that are needed for a successful and fun evening, but we also want to make sure that we’re generating significant funds for the museum. The museum will let us know where they need the funds, and that’s where we’re going to attribute the funds. In the past the funds, have gone to the endowment and the operations of the museum. Over the last six years, the Founders Junior Council has committed $800,000 to the museum and has paid it in full, and the majority of our funding has come from Fash Bash.

3. DDN: What are some highlights expected at this year’s Fash Bash?

This year’s Fash Bash is unique because the last few years the event has been held on the Woodward side of the museum on the front steps. Based on what’s going on with the M-1 rail construction, the event has been moved to the John R side. As far as I’m concerned, it offers us a unique opportunity to have a new fresh perspective on the evening. I think obviously the major highlight is the fashion show by Ken Downing (fashion director and senior vice president) of Neiman Marcus.

4. DDN: What should newcomers to Fash Bash know about the event?

There’s going to be an outdoor cocktail reception. From there, guests will be led into the museum and the fashion show will be held in the Great Hall, which there couldn’t be a more ideal venue for a fashion show than the beautiful Great Hall within the DIA. The DJ will start (after the fashion show), and there will be dancing, drinks, music, and food for the remainder of the evening. In terms of what the dress code is, there’s always some term “fashion chic.” Whatever it may be, I would just say that you get a lot of everything at the museum. It’s Fash Bash, so it’s really up to you to interpret that whatever way you like. We do have a wide range of outfits at the event, but since it is a fashion-focused event, people should feel free to wear what they thing is fashionable and comfortable.

5. DDN: Why is it important to have an event like Fash Bash in Detroit?

I think that Detroit has been transforming for some time and having additional events, attracting more and more people, more and more notoriety, and more and more press to Midtown and to Detroit helps everyone in every business in that area. I think that the DIA is a cultural gem of Michigan, and to have an event that supports this great institution is wonderful, and just to showcase the DIA as well as the fashion. I think it’s a very special evening.

The sold-out Fash Bash event starts at 7 p.m. Thursday on the John R side of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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