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Bold Statements in Fashion

Each year, fashion week comes and goes, with little distinction from past years. Streaks of bright lights fill the runway, as the world looks towards top designers in an attempt to define their own fashion sense.

However, this year as the US presidential election heats up, political banter has made it onto the runway, catching the attention of both the fashion world and the real world.

The New Function of Fashion

Notable designers such as Sonia Rykiel, Versace, Stella McCartney and Jean Charles de Castelbajac are making waves both on the runway and also in the political world. Putting their designs where their mouth is, European designers are not afraid to express their support for their favourite candidate.

According to MSNBC, Donatella Versace described Barack Obama as “the man of the moment,” dedicating her spring/summer 2009 line to political front runner. Versace describes the style of here newest line for “a relaxed man who doesn’t need to flex muscles to show he has power.”

Meanwhile, Jean Charles de Castelbajac’s models are gracing the runway with Obama inspired garments. The Andy Warhol-like designer has placed an image of Barack Obama on the front of a dress, with the back featuring the words “I have a dream today”.

Courtesy of The Telegraph Newspaper

Courtesy of The Telegraph Newspaper

Castelbajac told the Telegraph, “I made it because for me, Barack Obama is the most charismatic leader in politics today,” he went on to explain, “He is incarnate of hope, changes and youth. The ovation the dress received amazed me – as did the amount of insulting letters I have received from the United States. But I’m pleased to see that fashion has become such a powerful medium.”

Other Statements in Fashion

Prior to the start of this year’s election, fashion has long contributed to societal commentary.  In the year 2005, Dior launched a “Dior not war” and “Dior for peace” campaign, sending models down the runway with John Lennon’s song “Imagine” playing in the background.

Courtesy of Google Images

Additionally, music icons such as P-diddy have created affordable clothing lines with the Vote or Die slogan. Marie Claire has teamed up with Armani Exchange to create a political t-shirt saying “Think fashion makes a statement… Try Voting.” Although in the end it is up to the voter to decide, these bold and moving iconic statements are ingenious in creating buzz.

Chai C

c.collins@my.westminster.ac.uk

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/main.jhtml?xml=/fashion/2008/10/29/efobama129.xml

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/25332218/

http://blogs.wsj.com/runway/2008/10/02/stella-mccartney-a-designer-for-sarah-palin/

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/06/versace-dedicat.html

http://media.www.blackcollegeview.com/media/storage/paper928/news/2004/10/08/LifeStyle/Political.Passion.Fashion.That.Makes.A.Statement-2472557.shtml

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November 6, 2008 Posted by | Chai- Int'l Current Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bold Statements in Fashion, Background

The Changing Face of Fashion

Fashion shows in Paris, London, Milan and New York each year are graced with glittering lights. Industry icons, alongside the rich and famous gather together in hopes of celebrating a renewed sense of style and glamour often absent of diversity.

Aside from Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, few top models of ethnic origin have the privilege to grace international catwalks during fashion week. The process of elimination often begins well before a model walks through a fashion house’s front door.

Breaking the Trend

Famous photographer Steven Meisel, and Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani have crossed race barriers in order to create the first Vogue Italia All Black Issue. Debuting in July 2008, the All Black Issue was available in four collectors covers featuring Liya Kebede, Naomi Campbell, Jorden Dunn, and Sessilee Lopez.

Vogue All Black Issue Covers, Courtesy of Google Images

Vogue All Black Issue Covers, Courtesy of Google Images

The issue sold out nearly instantly, causing the publisher Condé Nast to reprint and distribute 40,000 additional copies. Those possessing a coveted issue of the July 2008 Vogue Italia could turn over a 60dollar plus profit on Ebay.

Edward Enninful, a black Notting Hill-born Vogue editor told the Guardian newspaper, “for years, the excuse proffered by advertising agencies for not signing black models to lucrative contracts, and by magazine editors who failed to feature women of colour on their covers, was a supposedly factual, ‘they don’t sell’.”

A New Era in Modeling

Tyra Banks told tv.com “when I look at young black models today, I hope they can just walk through the doors like everyone else”. According to Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2 fashion, the type of models often wanted for a show is usually predetermined prior to castings. Some of Dsquared2’s shows have broken the mould by featuring Rhianna and Channel Iman.

In previous years, established designers often create a standard definition of beauty. Gucci, Chanel, Prada, etc. have long chosen models identical in shape, height and colour, with very little consideration for diversity.

However, with the influx of new faces such as Jordan Dunn and Chanel Iman, it seems the old ways of fashion forgetting diversity have started to change.

Naomi Campbell, a high fashion runway veteran has decided to personally combat racism in fashion. Campbell is vowing to set up her own modeling agency in her home country of Kenya. According to the Telegraph Newspaper, Naomi has “attacked the fashion industry and glossy magazines for sidelining black beauty in favour of fair-skinned models”. The opening of her new agency will be an attempt to redress the balance”.

In an interview with the New York Times, Vogue Italia visionary Meisel conceded, “I thought, it’s ridiculous, this discrimination. It’s so crazy to live in such a narrow, narrow place. Age, weight, race – every kind of prejudice.” As a decade in this new century has nearly ended, there is renewed hope that barriers in the fashion industry will also soon pass.

Photographer Steven Meisel, Couresy of International Center of Photography

Photographer Steven Meisel, Couresy of International Center of Photography

Chai C

c.collins@my.westminster.ac.uk

Sources:

http://news.softpedia.com/news/All-Black-Vogue-Italia-Preview-88490.shtml

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jul/27/fashion.pressandpublishing

http://shop.ebay.co.uk/items/__Italian-Black Issue_W0QQ_nkwZItalianQ20BlackQ20IssueQQLHQ5fBINZ1QQ_dmptZUKQ5fMagazinesQQ_trksidZp3286Q2ec0Q2em301?_trksid=p3286.c0.m301

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/18/style/0619-BLACK_index.html

http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2008/06/uveiled_italian_vogues_allblac_1.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/2213181/Naomi-Campbell,-Iman-and-Jourdan-Dunn-grace-Vogue-Italia%27s-all-black-issue.html

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Chai- Int'l Current Affairs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment