Opinion

Fashion Month Brings Feminism to the Runway

Courtesy of the Australian Embassy JakartaAs part of Fashion Month 2018, designers took the runway by storm at one of Jakarta’s most prestigious fashion shows, showcasing Austrailian and Indonesian collections, while highlighting designs catering to modern Muslim women.

Fashion Month is upon us. The annual worldwide affair, which is a four-week period when top brands debut their most recent designs, began Feb. 8 in New York City and will end March 6 in Paris. The fashion world gets a lot of a flack and, of course, some of that is warranted. However, some designers and fashion influencers are making strides in the right direction — especially when it comes to feminism.

Fashion is mostly marketed toward women, but it’s an enterprise almost entirely dominated by men. Bernd Kroeber, creative director for BCBG Max Azria used this to his advantage. The fall/winter 2018 Rough Glamour collection’s show Feb. 9 involved a female stylist (Kate Young), set designer (Anna Karlin) and soundtrack creator (Mimi Xu), according to the LA Times. Kroeber also incorporated art made exclusively by five female artists to be hung up in the presentation space: photographers Sinziana Velicescu and Adrienne Raquel, illustrators Langley Fox and Blair Breitenstein and painter Katie Rodger. Having more than just models’ names in your show notes? Easy. However, Kroeber is hopefully starting more than just one trend in fashion by incorporating the work of talented women in his show.

Designer Rebecca Minkoff skipped Fashion Week this year and instead spotlighted twenty different women on her social media wearing her new spring collection. These women are all either on the Women’s March committee or key supporters of the movement. Not only are these women involved in something important and successful in their fields, but they also don’t fit the standard of beauty generally seen in models. These women are various shapes, sizes, races and ethnicities — which highlights a positive direction the fashion industry is taking.

Nepalese-American designer, Prabal Gurung is often known for his collections’ social commentary, even being nicknamed as the “Most Woke Man in Fashion” by The Washington Post. His 2018 collection utilized global inspiration, and his runway models reflected as such.

“The whole idea of a 16-year-old model, white girl, tall, blond, size 0, is so archaic and one of the most excruciatingly boring ideas of beauty . . . It’s important for us creative folks, including the media, to have these conversations and hold one another accountable [for our actions],” Gurung said in an interview with Glamour Magazine.

It’s obvious these “strides” aren’t necessarily huge, but in an industry that’s been plagued and dominated by so many issues — including underage models’ workplace rights, glamorization of mental illness and excluding women of color — it’s important to see at least some headway being achieved.

It’s also important to be critical of those following this process and using it as a marketing strategy. Tom Ford thought it was appropriate to slap “pussy power” onto some handbags and call that activism. What Ford failed to understand was this design does nothing for woman anywhere, especially when almost all of his models are the exact shape and size, visually championing only one kind of woman. There are less overt ways to express one’s support of feminism within fashion. He could have said nothing at all and it would have been more impactful.

Fashion Month was created as a way for designers to showcase their collections for the next season, but it’s morphed into a larger spectacle. It acts as a space for fashion to be viewed as art, and when designers use that space to make a statement on what is happening in our world, it sends a message different from any other platform. Fashion is more than just clothes; it’s a commentary on society.

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