Feminism & Fashion: Friends or Foes?

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Spice Girls “Mama” blasted through the speakers as the curtains opened to reveal a stage of mothers and children. From babies to toddlers, the kids sat in their supermodel mother’s arms, all matching in ravishing black silk and lace dresses. Then Bianca Balti walked out heavily pregnant and stunningly gorgeous with the kind of “motherly glow” infamously known throughout the maternal world.

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The D and G show was called “Viva la Mama” and the phrase was printed in 15 different languages on various pieces within the collection. Among the maternal models, others walked alone with highly structural purses in hand and headphones that looked more like royal crowns. The models emanated the power of the working woman, the woman who has beauty, grace, and strength.

The show was beautiful to say the least, but this beauty strayed far from the seams, the fabric, and physical beauty. The true beauty came from the not so subtle statement of the collection. Fashion is often harshly judged for its impact on the female self image ie. thigh gap obsessions, glorifying size over strength and beauty over brains.

Fashion and feminism traditionally seem to be in opposition, but collections such as Dolce and Gabanna along with many others are making powerful strides to make them synonymous. Last year at the Chanel SS15 show Cara Delevigne led an army of women down the runway shouting from a megaphone catchphrases resembling  calls to battle. All of the models held signs reading “Ladies First” and “Feministe Mais Meminine” (Feminist But Feminine) as they strutted down the Grand Palais.

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Shortly before this Chanel collection, Victoria Beckham, spoke at the UN. Young women such as supermodel, entrepreneur and computer-coding enthusiast Karlie Kloss, and actress, face of #HeForShe, and Ivy league alumna Emma Watson, have shown the world that beauty can go hand in hand with being smart and influential.

This year’s International Women’s Day might be the best example of the two big F’s finally coming together.  The Clinton Foundation’s campaign mantra says “We’re not there yet,”  regarding the issue of gender equality. This slogan was plastered on everyone’s social media from Amy Poehler to Karlie Kloss and Audrey Gelman through the image of a grey silhouette in place of a profile picture. Within the silhouette is the link to the website http://www.not-there.org. The lack of profile pictures on various social media platforms sparks the curiosity of a user’s followers, drawing attention to both the website and the feminist movement.

Major fashion brands from Kate Spade to Addias and beauty lines such as Dove joined the Clinton Foundation’s initiative by removing the female faces from their campaigns on their billboards. These corporations did so in an effort to discourage “selling women” and encourage supporting women. On multiple platforms, fashion and feminism are intertwining. In the words on Emma Watson “If not now, when?”

Madison Reis is a contributing writer. Email her at bstyle@nyunews.com

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