Is Fashion really just about the clothes? Can we see anything beyond the runway, the draped and textured garments and the skyrocketing platform shoes?
Well what if I was to say that Fashion does in fact have the ability to voice out societal concerns and address topical issues such as women and civil rights.Clothes have always been used as a way to indicate social class, social position, and occupation and to some extent reveal ones relevance in society.
Coco Chanel’s iconic
suits for example. She revolutionized how women dressed which in turn changed
how women perceived themselves and their role in society. Her suits which were
influenced by menswear collections in the 1920's were the perfect balance of
feminine style, strength, confidence and power which were the characteristics
the post war woman needed to build a career in the male dominated workplace.
Her suits allowed women to envision themselves as equals to their male counterparts in the workplace and challenged the conventional ideals of womanhood. Her interpretation of feminine clothing enabled women to have a voice beyond domestic affairs in the confinements of the home and introduced them to the public sphere where they could be women of influence.
Karl Lagerfeld’s Spring/Summer 2015 Chanel show was no different. The models were seen wearing suits with wide trouser legs, bright chiffon blouses and knee length dresses as they walked down the runway. However this wasn’t your ordinary runway. Karl Lagerfeld used the runway to recreate the concept of a typical street he named it ‘Boulevard Chanel’ where the models walked down the runway to their respective jobs. After the show models returned to the stage holding placards in support of feminist ideals, whilst some models screamed through the megaphones to make their voices heard.
Although gender equality has a long way to go some fashion designers have been able to use fashion and the runway as a platform to discuss these ideas.
To say the least the runway has presented itself as a space that confronts conventional and social ideas. It constantly challenges us as individuals and causes us to step out of our comfort zone and dares us to walk with purpose and charges us to have a bigger presence in our society.