Designing a Christmas tradition

Five years ago, Angela LaBudie wanted a unique Christmas tree for her business, Logan Charles Salon. So she sought out local designer Kurt Schlosser.

“I gave him a picture of what I had in mind, and his version was so much better,” LaBudie said.

“I told her I decorate trees on my mannequins, and she loved the idea,” Schlosser said. “I feel it’s something unique and festive for people to see around the holiday season.”

Since then, Schlosser has annually created a different mannequin Christmas tree at the S. Monroe St. salon.

Each year, just after Thanksgiving, Schlosser designs a dress, wig and headpiece for the mannequin and then bedecks it with a mix of ornaments and holiday lights. Past mannequin looks have included an off-the-shoulder dress featuring ornaments in gold and varying shades of blue and, another year, a red dress with an array of red and white ornaments.

This year, Schlosser’s piece recalls vintage dolls.

Using faux evergreen and white Christmas lights, Schlosser designed an evergreen dress with a train for the mannequin. The train is bedecked with holiday-shaded bulbs. The mannequin also dons a red-trimmed top hat.

“This year I was inspired by old holiday Barbies,” said Schlosser. “I think of a different theme each year. I look back at what I have done before and try to do something different each time. I love that Angie gives me the creative freedom to design.” 

Although construction begins after Thanksgiving, Schlosser is brainstorming a month earlier.

“I start getting things together after Halloween and start putting the base and hair together two weeks before Thanksgiving. Then, I construct the finishing touches the day of set-up,” Schlosser said.

By now, he has a stockpile of embellishments to choose from.

“Because I have been doing this for years, I have been collecting all different bulbs, and I people who have donated bulbs after Christmas. I have boxes of bulbs organized by color and theme,” he said.

LaBudie and her guests enjoy the creations.

“Our guests always ask if we are doing the tree this year. They are just as excited (as I am) to see what he comes up with. His creativity is amazing,” said LaBudie. “People walking past our building stop in and ask if they can get a picture of our tree. It’s definitely a tradition that has been created.”

Logan Charles Salon isn’t the only place with a Kurt Schlosser original tree. The designer annually decorates about six Christmas trees for himself, family and friends.

A lifeguard at the Monroe Family YMCA, Schlosser is a trained designer, who started sewing while a student at Monroe High School.

“I got my degree from the International Academy of Design and Technology in Troy. I won best-of-show with my final collection,” Schlosser said. “I have had a chance to showcase my designs in several fashion shows, including Motor City Fashion Week, and also featured in “Hour Detroit Magazine,” showcasing a red dress for the American Heart Association. I create my own designs and do select jobs, like T-shirt quilts and wedding clutches made from the mother’s wedding dress. One of my favorite recent creations was making my sister-in-law’s wedding dress during COVID. That was something really special that I have always wanted to do.”