New York Fashion Week is known for exhibiting the most current trends, designers, and models every year. This February, however, clothes weren’t the only items on display; politics found its way into the show as well. From the music that was played to the designers’ choice of accessories, the fashion industry communicated its progressive beliefs in subtle yet powerful ways.
It is not uncommon for designers to make a statement through the runway music they choose. This Fashion Week, however, protest music appeared to be the official soundtrack. At Raf Simons’s Calvin Klein show, the first major event on the Fall 2017 New York Fashion Week, Anne Caruso performed David Bowie’s “This is Not America.” The choice of music voiced the fashion industry’s opinion on the current state of the nation and revealed Simon’s dissatisfaction with recent changes to the republic.
T-shirts with various activist slogans were also worn by models, designers, and editors alike. Prabal Gurung, for one, dressed his models in t-shirts printed with phrases including “The Future Is Female” and “I Am an Immigrant.” Tops reading “People are People,” “Revolution Has No Borders,” and “Love is Love” were also modeled, all of which expressed leftist political beliefs.
At the same time, the designers at New York Fashion Week worked to promote unity, solidarity, and inclusiveness. They did so through the use of white bandannas, which were worn both off and on the runway. These accessories were introduced not as a political statement, but as a positive and hopeful movement. Imran Amed, the editor-in-chief and founder of the operation, launched this initiative to encourage the fashion industry to remain united despite the divisive political climate. In Amed’s own words, “Wear a white bandana as a sign to the world that you believe in the common bonds of humankind — regardless of race, sexuality, gender or religion.”
Since the election, in which both candidates held opposing views regarding abortion, Planned Parenthood, America’s most used provider of reproductive health care, has been subjected to public scrutiny. To raise funds for this organization, which is now under siege from a Republican ruled congress, the Council of Fashion Designers of America created pink pins asserting that “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood.” In addition,
Supporters of the organization were seen adorned in pink and this very color has been seen in many designers collections throughout fashion week.
The fashion industry is a growing community that develops and adapts to its surroundings. If one ever wants to learn about the state of a nation at a given point in time, present or past, simply looking at the fashion of the time will do it. Thus, it is no surprise that politics and current events made their way into these designers’ work. The industry’s expressions of unity, compassion, and engagement should be inspiring and welcoming to all.
Lara Baskin and Tegan Dadd
Graphics: Maraea Garcia