by Elizabeth Hazard
Designers Make their Voices Heard
2017 has certainly been an interesting year indeed. Issues like politics, civil rights, and women’s rights have all come to the center of attention. Society on a whole has come to realize that these issues are of interest to us all. It’s a time when everyone needs to have a voice and stand up for what they believe in. The fashion industry has taken a lead in voicing these opinions, sometimes without saying a word at all. As Fashion Weeks took place in cities around the world this past Spring, the fashion community showed their passion for design and worldly issues all at once. It seems that many had lots to say.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the trade association comprised of more than 500 designers, made a strong statement of solidarity in support of Planned Parenthood. Handing out large, bright pink buttons with the message “Fashion Stands Behind Planned Parenthood” at the beginning of Fashion Week, making a strong statement that the fashion community would stand together in support of the organization. Designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig all proudly donned the pink button. The queen of Fashion week herself, Anna Wintour, was even seen sporting it.
Fashion It Girls Gigi and Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and other models were spotted walking down the runway wearing a white bandana tied to their wrists at the Tommy Hilfiger presentation. While ever so subtle, the bandana was part of Business of Fashion’s #TiedTogether initiative, which aims to foster unity in this uncertain, divisive climate. Phillip Lim, Thakoon, Prabal Gurung and Diane von Furstenberg, among others, also showed their support for the #TiedTogether campaign.
A vocal supporter of Hilary Clinton, Prabal Gurung took great advantage of the runway to make sure his support for the candidate and women in general made a statement at his Fall 2017 presentation this Spring. Having been inspired by a recent women’s march he’d attended in New York City, his show reflected just that sentiment. One of his gowns featured writing containing the words from speeches from well-known activist women, such as Susan B. Anthony. In closing his show, he sent his models down the runway wearing t-shirts emblazoned with pro-women statements, such as “We Will Not Be Silenced,” “Nevertheless She Persisted,” “Our Minds Our Bodies Our Power,” and “The Future is Female,” among others. His finale literally looked like one of the women’s marches had come to life on the runway. Several celebrities and fashion insiders have since been seen sporting Gurung’s statement tees, and hence voicing their own support for the women’s movement.
Ever the designer to show inclusivity in his runway shows, Christian Siriano also took this past fashion season to reiterate his belief in equality for all. Featuring women of all colors and sizes throughout his presentation, he ended with one model wearing a bright pink satin skirt matched with a black t-shirt that drove the message home with the saying “People are People.” Taking the mission further, Siriano donates all proceeds from sales of the tee to the ACLU.
While some might say fashion should stay out of politics, it’s important to know where these fashion designers stand on the issues. When we purchase a piece of fashion, we are essentially standing behind that designer and empowering them to continue doing their craft. Now we cannot only support their work, but their message as well. While we, as consumers, can contribute to the message, it’s important that these designers don’t just use Fashion Week or a runway as the only time to spread their message. Their commitment to the movement needs to go beyond the runway to make a greater impact. The voice of fashion was never louder than this past season, now lets make sure that voice continues to be heard.