Yo, Designer focus, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish but New York Fashion Week (NYFW) Fall 2017 had the best messages of all time.
We tend to look to NYFW for all the on-trend silhouettes, colours and fabrics (ehem there was everything from khaki, biker leather, and 50 shades of ‘La La Land’ yellow, to sleeve slits, fishnets, wool suits, and wrap ensembles) but there’s one theme that stole the show. Once you get over the shock that Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 runway was low-key (I know, we can’t believe it either), you realise that the major trend was social and political activism.
You’d be forgiven to think that the A/W17 runways were protest marches with a fashion forward twist. It was four full days of these message-driven showcases. And to top it all off, the Council of Fashion Designers of America set the tone by deciding to publicly support Planned Parenthood through huge pink buttons with the words “Fashion stands with Planned Parenthood” plastered across them. In addition, they made sure the message wasn’t lost in translation. They provided information about how show attendees could show their support; i.e. create awareness and through making donations.
With the country in an election year and surrounded by political and social issues, (such as the health crisis, constant teachers’ strikes, gender inequality, environmental and wildlife issues to mention a few) will Kenyan designers use this year’s fashion calendar to comment on the situations raise awareness, or even use the runway to start much-needed conversations? We’ll definitely be on the lookout and encourage you to share with us designer’s that do. Until then, we leave you with designers that utilised the runway this A/W17 season to make a statement:
The creative directors, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, debuted their Fall 2017 collection with a strong political message that challenged US President Trump’s administration.
This land was made for you and me – Public School #NYFW pic.twitter.com/Wka9wvPSYn
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) February 12, 2017
The designer explained that the collection’s inspiration came from the question, “What does it mean to say a woman should ‘dress like a woman?’” the collection, which walked down the runway to feminist anthems such as ‘You Don’t Own Me’ and ‘Respect, was inspired by women in Nepal and America during the 1940s who maintained grace under the pressure of the war. There was an eclectic presentation which was meant to signify women have options and the celebration of womanhood takes multiple forms. The show ended with t-shirts branded with thoughtful messages to show what feminism looks like today.
The Indonesian designer’s claim to runway fame was being the first designer ever to present a hijab collection at NYFW. She took it a step further this season by responding to the anti-immigration policies. She cast her entire show with models made up of second-generation children of immigrants as well as immigrants. As she mentioned in an interview with Elle US, “The ability to express diversity in this business is a value that I hold on to. [Diversity] is what fashion is for me.”
The Friday show was Belgian designer – Raf Simon’s – debut for Calvin Klein which says a lot in the ‘anti-immigrant sentiments’ in the USA right now. They chose to present attendees with white bandannas accompanied with a note asking them to wear it as a symbol of unity, inclusion, hope and acceptance; #TiedTogether.
Project runway winner and success story – Siriano – has always been in the forefront of supporting diversity. A theme he carried on at his recent NYFW show. Per usual, the models were diverse in shape, age and size; with prominent plus-size models Candice Huffine, Iskra Lawrence, and Marquita Pring taking to the runway. But it was his finale piece -black t-shirt with “People Are People” written across it – that stole the show and earned him a standing ovation. The shirt, which he worked on in collaboration with Leggo Your Ego, is available for purchase with all profits going to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The collection echoed the powerful feminism and calls for equality happening around the world. It played on the romantic nature of a corset with the traditional nature of a matador uniform. He then chose to reinforce his sentiments by doing his ‘designer bow’ after his show wearing a t-shirt with “Feminist AF” slogan across it.
The muse for her Fall 2017 collection came from women being the source of much-needed change. Thus, she reached out to the Women’s March on Washington to make the opening remarks to her show. The co-founders, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour Carmen Perez and Bob Bland obliged and made for a powerful presentation. In addition, she incorporated dancers in her show, who moved to the words of ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou.