An Afternoon of Historic Detroit Fashion

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An Afternoon of Historic Detroit Fashion


Sunday, March 26th 1:00-4:00pm The Detroit History Club. 75 Farrand Park, Highland Park.

At 410 feet, Hudson’s was the tallest department store in the world: the building had 51 passenger elevators, 17 freight elevators, eight employee elevators and 48 escalators...

The Kern’s clock still stands on Woodward where it graced the entrance to the Ernst Kern Company Department store in downtown Detroit. It made its ticking debut in 1933, and swiftly became a landmark for Detroiters who often uttered the phrase “We’ll meet under the Kern’s Clock...”

From Hudson’s to Kern’s, homemade to high end, fashion to function, Detroit has played a major role in American clothing. The Detroit History Club is thrilled to announce a night celebrating the city’s impact on the clothes we wear, the uniforms we instantly recognize, and the garments of our shared past. Together with Madelyn Rzadkowolski of Meadow Brook Hall and Sarah Ayers of William and Bonnie, we will sip runway-appropriate cocktails as we enjoy a historic live fashion show. We’ll nibble hors d’oeuvres as we learn about Detroit fashion icons like Matilda Dodge Wilson and Piper Laurie. We’ll learn why sizes kept changing and how we’d ‘stack up’ in different decades. We’ll ooh and ahh at the glamour and rising hemlines seen at roaring music halls in the 1920s, and contemplate the advances in women’s freedom in the work wear of the post-war 1950’s as historic garments from private collections are displayed. And we’ll be treated to a behind the scenes glimpse of what fashion houses are making in Detroit today. Surprises await: the garments are being fitted, vintage closets are being raided, and even a few historic undergarments are being brought into the light; we hope you’ll join in the fun.

As fashionable as they are brilliant your host for the evening are Sarah Ayers and Madelyn Rzadkowolski:

Madelyn Rzadkowolski has a closet of vintage clothing and a way of turning every conversation into praise for the Dodge Brothers.  She manages the collections, exhibits, tours and education programs at Meadow Brook Hall, a 110-room National Historic Landmark that excites her interest in the social history and evolution of functional aspects of residential architecture. There, she plans exhibits about everything from French fashion to horse racing, and in 2014, she opened a major permanent exhibit on the Dodge Brothers Motor Company for their centennial.  She co-authored the Images of America history of Rochester and Rochester Hills in 2011.  Her Detroit claim-to-fame is that her dad almost bought the kielbasa recipe from Kopytko's- and she wishes every day that he had.  RIP, smoked sausage of her youth. 

Michigan native Sarah Ayers studied Art History in college and went on to work in art museums and galleries in New York City and Detroit for over a decade. Upon her return to Michigan in 2013, Ayers decided to transition from the art to fashion and home decor world founding William & Bonnie in 2014. William + Bonnie is a cut and sew shop located in Hamtramck, Michigan.  Surrounded on all sides by Detroit, Hamtramck has long been home to a flourishing creative scene.  After launching our own line of chic cycling wear, we recognized the need from the creative community to provide a one-stop resource for emerging fashion designers.  Pulling together our team of creative collaborators, colleagues and friends, we are proud to launch our Consulting Services.  In addition to our in-house prototype, sample garment and limited-run production we are proud to announce our alliance with models, designers, pattern makers and photographers to make your line a reality, from concept to completion. 

Because The Detroit History Club operates as a members-only club, out of private homes, hidden spaces, and secret locations, you’ll need to join before being able to buy tickets to events.  At checkout you’ll be asked if you are already a member; if not, select “New Member.” Membership to The Detroit History Club is five dollars per calendar year.  Each person attending an event must have a membership of their own.  Membership cards may be picked up at the first event you attend as a new member, and new cards are issued at the first event you attend each year.  Parking is on-street and at your own risk (we’ve never had an issue, but the lawyer insists we have the disclaimer).

Detroit History Club events are for persons twenty-one years old and up.  We drink, we swear, we talk about things, and we’d love for you to join us.  Whether you come as a couple, a group, or a singleton, our events are designed to encourage you to make new friends, explore ideas, and learn- all while eating, drinking, dancing, and generally behaving in a way that makes us proud to call ourselves Detroiters. We would like to remind you that this event is taking place in a private home; your respect is greatly appreciated


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