For decades — centuries, even — fashion designers have created clothing in reaction to the political climate. And this season, at a time when countless women are using social media to share their stories of sexual harassment with #MeToo, and celebrities are protesting the mistreatment of women in Hollywood and beyond through #TimesUp and its red carpet blackout, the sartorial statements at New York Fashion Week abound. Now, international fashion weeks are starting to jump in.
Brit designer Vivienne Westwood kicked off LFW with a pop-up fashion show attacking the Ineos chemical company that uses fracking to extract oil and gas from the ground. Westwood, along with a group of activists and models protested the chemical plant outside its headquarters in Knightsbridge. The designer and her crew of models and activists wore black dresses with words like “Fracking,” “Climate,” “Chaos,” and “Ineos,” and carried signs that said “Frack off Ineos.” On social media, the protest is being referred to as “#IneosVthePeople.”
During NYFW, Stacey Bendet, founder, creative director, and CEO of Alice + Olivia staged a spectacular fashion presentation focused on female empowerment. It included a rewritten Bill of Rights for women, highlighting past and present societal issues such as the right to equal pay, reproductive rights and the right to equal education. The collection, set a against a chromatic arrangement of books, featured a vibrant, colorful splash of floral dresses, suits, sequin skirts, fur, plaid dresses, ‘Perfect 10’ accessories, and more.
Equally cool french label Zadig & Voltaire — known for its skinny leather pants and moto jackets — unveiled a new political statement tee during its fall 2018 runway show. The white tee features a black-and-white protest image of a sign that says, “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights.” The image was taken by Italian photographer Micol Sabbadini during the Women’s March in 2017.
Although this is the only political statement tee spotted during the show, there are two other tees in the capsule collection featuring images by Sabbadini. A second shirt says “Give us hope,” with the third one stating, “Love will rise above all.” The shirts retail for $100 and will be available on zadig-et-voltaire.com with all proceeds benefitting Every Mother Counts, a charity founded by Christy Turlington Burns to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers around the world.
Last week at Tom Ford, a shiny, glittery chain bag with “Pussy Power” embellished on it was a hit. This accessory complemented Mr. Ford’s ’80s-inspired collection that featured these figures as the centerpiece of his collection.
At Collina Strada, designer Hillary Taymour had hand-painted blue “tattoos” on a few of her models’ necks with words like “Higher Self” and “Self Love.” Taymour stated in a press release, “Amidst the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement I felt it is necessary to stop with the anger and turn back to love. This collection focuses on how a human should feel safe to dress however she/he or they choose. From sexy to frumpy.”
Designer Stella Nolasco, one of Puerto Rico’s most celebrated designers, decided to use her fashion show as a platform to respond to the controversial relationship between President Trump and the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September. Models carried signs that read, “Can’t say American without the Rican” and “Equality is sexy!,” and others were draped in Puerto Rican flags.
Ahead, see all of political statements made at fashion week so far.
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