Detroit Bruce Weber: Putting Detroit on the Fashion Map

by Robere Lett, Publisher – Haute is Magazine

During the wake of my extra busy day – or should I say as I was cutting my over-grown lawn, I suddenly flashed that there was something important missing; something I had been intending to do but never got around to, and from the back of my mind it thrust forward in an instant: The Detroit Bruce Weber Exhibition at the DIA was nearing it’s final days and I had yet to take in the visual spectacle! As I finished my chores, I knew I had to beat a clear path downtown before the opportunity had passed me by. A long-time lover of Bruce Weber’s photography, from the early eighties until today I would spend hours pouring over his images for GQ Magazine (then my fashion bible, some of those issues I still have today) and various other magazines and campaigns. It was the start of the male supermodel, when clothing and accessories for men took its place in the fashion industry, no more staid suits in three corporate colors – blue, grey and black, but a vast array of styles and hues. It was a time when models like Renauld White, Charles Williamson, Jeff Aquilon, and Matt Norklun ruled the pages and fashion editorials each month wearing the coolest clothes around (Renauld, Jeff, and Matt are still modeling today).


But I digress. The collaboration between Conde Naste, The Detroit Institute of Arts and Detroit is a special one, starting back in 2006 when Bruce first came to Detroit with supermodel Kate Moss. There was a buzz in the air all over the fashion community about this great photographer and model coming to Detroit, Yes! Detroit for a fashion photo spread for W Magazine, and as it turned out, Bruce discovered how special Detroit was and highlighted us in an amazing way. Putting aside the negative naysayers and finding out through his visual interpretation that Detroit is an incredible place, “I was struck by how warm and welcoming everyone was. …People from all different walks of life — students, stylists, writers, athletes. … I felt that welcoming spirit, which as an outsider working in a new city meant everything”.

Fast-forward to 2013, Bruce was back shooting the new Shinola campaign featuring supermodel Carolyn Murphy to be featured in Vogue Magazine; this was another notch in our fashion belt. Again, Weber displayed the great city facades and faces with aplomb and flair, Detroit was again a fashion city. As I gaze upon the eighty photographs depicting the richness and majesty of the people here, it is apparent in every image, from Aretha Franklin to the Detroit chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Detroit has style. From the familiar locations, along with seeing friends like Tombi Steward and Shaletta Porterfield gracing the walls, brings on a smile. Lots of signature black white permeates, making everyone he captured a fashion star. Like many creatives, Bruce is adept at many visual mediums, from still photography to stunning videography; as demonstrated in the short feature films that ran during the exhibit. Putting Detroit on the fashion map is one my greatest hopes, and having an immensely talented, internationally acclaimed artist such as Bruce Weber understand our diverse cultural relevance, is inspiring to say the least. Even though this exhibit is coming to a close, it keeps me believing that Detroit is the world’s next fashion port of call.

Bruce Weber Quote from June 2014 issue of Hour Detroit

Bruce Weber image courtesy of:




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