Feminism in 2014 Fashion

December 1, 2014 11:19 pm17 comments

Arcadians love to express themselves through their clothing.  It’s nearing the end of the semester, so it seems appropriate to give a shout out to campus fashion considering students are still walking around like Forever 21 fabulously threw up all over them in the hopes of impressing their classmates.

That’s because, for many people, fashion is a lifestyle. So even though NY Fashion Week is long gone and the summer season is hibernating until next year, I’d like to talk about some of SS14’s best hits in the industry.

Feminism has been making waves in fashion lately.  While the movement is far more complex than a simple trend, its translation into art for certain designers’ collections this summer has helped to better burn images of female equality into people’s minds. For instance, Miuccia Prada commissioned several artists to create pieces for the design house’s most recent SS collection. The result was a parade of artwork that aimed to display the “multiplicity of women,” or the variety of roles women assume on a day-to-day basis. This collection not only celebrates the versatility of women in general, but highlights the ability feminism has to positively make its way into fashion and have its themes be explored.

It is sometimes a preconceived notion that fashion and feminism cannot coexist, since so many aspects of the fashion industry cater to patriarchal conventions.  This was especially apparent at the Nina Ricci SS14 show, where members of the Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN stormed the actual catwalk topless in protest of the attitudes toward women in the fashion industry (for example, the promotion of anorexia).  However, this Prada collection showed us that fashion not only can show respect and celebration for the female form, but that feminism doesn’t have to stay out of fashion just because fashion has been dubbed by patriarchal standards as a stupid or meaningless industry.

In addition, Chanel’s show during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring / Summer 2015 was turned into a mock feminist protest.  The catwalk was created with a real protest in mind – it was made to look like a city street, puddles and all.  The models, led by a shouting Cara Delevingne, carried signs with cheeky slogans and startling chants.  This mock protest was received by audiences as not only Chanel’s ode to feminism but also as Karl Lagerfeld making a joke of feminist protests. While the concept was great in theory, the overall feel of the show made it seem like these protests are not to be taken seriously.

Fashion has created a bad reputation for itself in the world of gender equality due to its tendency to turn women into objects and render us uncomfortable wearing whatever the trend at the time. In reality, personal style can be the utmost form of self expression.  It can be used to display someone’s androgyny and opposition to gender stereotypes, as well as someone else’s refusal to be ashamed of their own body through wearing scant amounts of clothing.  We can communicate things about ourselves without ever even opening our mouths, and we do it using the clothes on our backs.  Personal style is all about choice, and that kind of choice is definitely something that this feminist can get behind.

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