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CMU students show fashion collections at Detroit exhibition

Cut - Detroit Month of Design LeDyra LaDyra Lyte.jpg
Central Michigan University
CMU senior LaDyra Lyte works with a piece from her featured collection, "Killing Me Won't Make You King."

Central Michigan University fashion and design students began showing their collections at an exhibition in Detroit this week. The students said they’re hoping their designs can affect society outside of the fashion world.

LaDyra Lyte made a collection she’s calling “Killing Me Won’t Make You King.” It features an orange jumpsuit based on prison uniforms, and she said she’s subverting expectations by showing it on a runway.

“On the back ... the inmate number actually spells ‘innocent’ based on the numeric placement of each letter in the alphabet,” Lyte said.

She’s also placing the jumpsuit on a dark mannequin in an effort to highlight the disproportionately high rates at which people of color are arrested and imprisoned.

Lyte said she wants to provoke people into thinking about the people who are required to wear prison uniforms by displaying them on models outside of prison.

Some people use words, she said. Others, like her, have different talents.

“Not everyone needs to be another Martin Luther King or a Malcolm X or a Harriet Tubman,” she said. “You can use what you already have been gifted with.” In her case, she said, the gift is an eye for art and design.

CMU fashion merchandising and design professor Michael Mamp said Lyte’s goal might be attainable.

Fashion can change the way people view themselves, and how they view their society, said Mamp.

“We all understand that in some way, whether we want to admit it or not, what we put on our body is a reflection of who we are. … It can impact the whole of society,” he said.

The exhibition is on display through the end of September at CMU's Detroit Center.