diversity in fashion

Diversity in Fashion

After taking two trains, trekking through a neighborhood that would have scared a wimpy woman, and waiting for an hour and a half, I was sitting at the Brooklyn Fashion Week fashion show. Here are some observations I made about that event. 

Diversity is happening.

In case you haven’t noticed, (where have you been?) it’s official, fashion has finally come to include people once marginalized, it now more closely mirrors the society we live in. Whether or not you like the results, it’s a good thing for all of us. 

Fashion shows really do never start on time.

Well some do, the ones at fashion week maybe, where the venue is scheduled with designer following designer and there’s no margin for delays. But otherwise, bring water, or a flask, and be prepared to people watch. 

Women of color know how to walk with pride.

I know I’m making a generalization, but it’s my observation that women of color know how to walk with pride. Seeing woman after woman, come walking down the runway, this show was a powerful reminder of that. I seldom see white women walk with the kind of grounded, self-assurance that women of color can pull off. 

We can speculate all we want, but some of the reasons this is so are obvious, others are harder to understand. The fact is that non-white cultures have different definitions of beauty and different attitudes towards the female body. It’s a cultural thing and not a new development, even when it manifests in modern ways.

Synthetic fibers are here to stay.

For me, there will never be a replacement for “natural fibers.” Even though I know that the production of some of these fibers is becoming more and more unsustainable, give me anything from a plant or an animal over a complex chemical compound any day. I’d much prefer wearing recycled naturals than even the less polluting, “better” man-made materials.

But especially given the difference in cost, synthetic fibers aren’t going anywhere just yet. There are young designers who have never sewn a garment made of wool because they just can’t afford it. The problem is, that means that we are educating a whole new cohort of fast fashion producers because fast fashion is all about man-made fibers. 

Please read the quote below that addresses this very real problem!

Facemasks are a thing.

It was probably Alexander McQueen who first designed and popularized the face mask for the runway. 

Lace mask – Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2012

Masks, half masks, veils and all sorts of head and face coverings had of course been around long before him. Masks can express myriad emotions even while covering parts of or the entire face, the place where emotion most shows.

They can be frightening, making the wearer look either menacing or menaced. They can be “sexual,” mimicking bondage and fetish gear. If you just think of the “schmaltzy” movies, where gallant young men chase coy young women around the dance floor of a masked ball, you know masks can be flirtatious.

Viva the mask!

Etro

Even though I do not generally like patterns, I’ve always been smitten by the genius of Etro. The textile design and fashion house creates what to me is the epitome of a certain kind of sumptuous, Italian design. I wasn’t aware of Etro Home, but then I found this pillow on Moda Operandi.

Unfortunately, this is what the pillow is made of: Composition: 100% Viscose Back 100% Cotton Padding 100% Polyester.

No apologies, I’m longing for the days when the pillow would have been made of silk and wool!

Quoting

All of this talk about natural vs. man-made fibers brings me to my friend Allie. Allie is the young, dedicated, and sophisticated woman behind Manuma Style, a blog whose tag line is “cloth is culture.” She’s up to some very interesting things, you might want to follow her.

“Some cultures still give cloth as a gift to each other, or an offering to the divine. In contrast, North American culture plunders the earth to make synthetic fibers into garments we throw in the garbage after very little use. These two diametric examples also indicate how we treat people who work with cloth; how we process fibers in the first place says a lot about how we value the earth we live in.”

Allie McConnell 

Anita

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