Fashion, like art, should be thought-provoking. In a utopian world, intricate craftsmanship would seamlessly intertwine with a bold affirmation, resulting in a piece that is not only appealing but influential. While this rich tapestry of design and social commentary is not often found in our fast fashion-focused world, New York Fashion Week had it in spades. Of course, over the years we have witnessed intrepid campaigns from the likes of Peta but, while effective in the moment, these statements are not easily translatable. Let’s be honest – nakedness is unlikely to filter down through the department stores.
NYFW has provided us with an endless supply of wearable art that is sure to ruffle some feathers. Designers delved into divisive issues such as feminism, immigration and racial diversity, opening the eyes and the wardrobes of onlookers to the affairs at hand. Following the introduction of Donald Trump’s controversial policies and the response from the record-breaking Women’s March in Washington, there couldn’t be a more fitting time to attempt to tackle the current political climate through the art of fashion.
Public School presented a not-so-subtle opposition to the Trump campaign, with an unambiguous, antagonistic political affiliation evident right from the first red hat.
Firmly standing behind Planned Parenthood, the CFDA provided models with prominent pink badges to wear on the catwalks, raising support with every strut.
Explicit as ever, Jonathan Simkhai’s politically-charged tees need no introduction. All proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood.
Bursting onto the stage with an introduction from the four empowering Women’s March organisers, Mara Hoffman’s show was unquestionably the most resonant.
Kanye West won over legions of culturally-aware fans by casting the incredible Halima Aden in his Yeezy Season 5 fashion show. As the first hijab-clad model to be signed to IMG, Halima serves as a role model for women all over the world.
In September last year, Anniesa Hasibuan made history as the first person to feature the hijab in every look in her collection. For this season’s show, she made headlines once again by only featuring models who are first and second-generation immigrants, creating a message that spoke volumes about the importance of inclusivity.
Plus-sized model Candice Huffine made strides for fashion-lovers of all shapes and sizes at Prabal Gurung. Adhering to the recurring theme of the statement t-shirt, Candice’s body positive inclusion was all the more powerful.
A sea of white bandanas broke over the catwalks and the crowds at Fashion Week. This accessory spreads the BOF mantra of unity, solidarity and inclusiveness.
With a desire to ensure diverse casting, the Christian Siriano show featured models of all ethnicities and body types. Between his decadent gowns was a single show-stopping slogan t-shirt that simply read “People Are People”.
Jenny Packham’s Fall collection was overflowing with innuendo, displaying stereotypical British imagery post-Brexit. Pearls, tartan, and corgi-emblazoned shirts were a big hit.
If the week wasn’t loaded enough, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honoured the late Oscar de la Renta with a speech on immigration at the launch of his commemorative stamp. Born in the Dominican Republic, Oscar de la Renta has dressed every American first lady since Jackie Kennedy; during Hillary Clinton’s time as first lady, she and the historic fashion designer became firm friends.
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