This was one very energetic New York Fashion Week! Not even a blizzard was able to stop us. As I sit here trying to take it all in, for the first time, I feel more energized than the usually wiped-out after running around the city from show to show. Before we get into the resistance excitement that happened during this fashion week, I just want to point out that a resistance has already been boiling in the fashion world for some time. Just think of Veronica Webb who in 1992 was the first African American model to land a contract with a major beauty campaign or the first black model, Beverly Johnson, to appear on the cover of Vogue in 1974, and the ones that came before, after, and between them. The energy that took place this past week was not an overnight phenomenon! Broadening the scope of inclusivity in terms of skin melanin, body size, disability, gender has been a hard battle within the fashion industry for years. Even until now, after going over hundreds of street style pictures from New York Fashion Week, only a certain style, selective people(mostly white), and skinny body sizes are being selected for features.
The political drama America has been living without a doubt touched a nerve and added some speed to the slow inclusive energy-changing within the fashion industry, and why wouldn't it? Fashion is reflective of our surroundings or at least it should be. Just as to why it's taking so long for an industry filled with women to be all inclusive of women, is a question that still baffles me. Anyways, it was exciting to see during this New York Fashion Week the goodwill of people standing up to their selective and/or multiple causes.
The season was kicked-off by the CFDA announcing its support to Planned Parenthood. Designers and show-goers popped-up everywhere with pink buttons in represention of their support to women's reproductive rights. This was just the beginning!
The street style scene was on fire with clothing statements worn by industry-weight show-goers. Statements read from'Fuck Hate', 'No Wall Between Us, 'Women's Rights are Human Rights', and 'Son of an Immigrant.' While on the topic of immigration, immigrant designers either expressed themselves directly or in tribute manner such as the newly creative head at Calvin Klein, Raf Simmons, did with its collection. While others like Mexican-born fashion designer, Raul Solis, expressed his human sentiment in a more direct manner by including the message 'F**k Your Wall' on the underwear of his runway model.
On other runways and presentations; J. Crew returned this season with the use of non-models, The Row opted for models over the age of 30, IMG signed hijab-wearing model Halima Aden who debuted in the Yeezy show, TOME continued their every women advocacy--inclusive plus-size model and age variety models. Mara Hoffman invited Muslim singer Yuna to walk the runway, Prabal Gurung showcased a plus size model and did a finale with white statement t-shirts empowering women, American designers Tracy Reese and Wendy Nicohl also show cased hijab-wearing models with Wendy Nicohl also using a woman with a disability as a model, and Public School had its models walk the runway with red hats that read 'Make America New York'. In addition to the regular major shows, there were also two shows where women took resistance against society norms; Breast cancer survivors and those battling took to the runway topless--a reality many of us need to get acquainted with. The Australian model and now designer with Down Syndrome, Madeline Stuart launched her own clothing line. Power to all these ladies!
On the editorial side of fashion the Business of Fashion called upon show-goers to wear a white bandana in representation of the common bonds within us. Editors from the likes of Fashionista and other sites took interest in writing about a non-prime show, Anniesa Hasibuan, Indonesian fashion designer who showcased this week for the second time with a clad of models all wearing head-coverings(hijab). Also editors from major publications took a stand by not wanting to sit next to Tiffany Trump at the Dennis Basso show.
To all this, I have to mention also that merely the presence of a color and/or covered woman working in the fashion industry is a resistance all by itself. So, the questions now are specially in an industry that is so volatile; Is all this energy here to stay and contribute to substantial change? Was it just a passage momentum? The popular thing to do? Are we tokenizing women? Has this really torn down the wall of racism and elitism within fashion or are we still chipping away? Are women and her experiences still being used as a convenience to sell products? Is all this just a marketing gimmick? We shall see, for now, it's great to see the unification of some under creativity; the place where all ideas are born.
Written by Mariana Aguilera