University of Fashion Blog

Posts Tagged: "Karl Lagerfeld"

STAYING SILENT IS OUT – FASHION ACTIVISM IS IN

Prabal Gurung created political statement T-shirts that were worn by social media influencers and street style stars during NY Fashion Week 2017.  From Left to right: Shea Marie, Caroline Vreeland , Bryanboy, Tina Craig, Irene Kim,  Aimee Song  and Chriselle Lim . (Photo Courtesy of Forbes.com)

The Men’s Spring 2020 shows have just wrapped up, and while the runways were filled with plenty of notable trends, such as soft suiting at Givenchy, gender bending at Comme des Garçons, nautical looks at Prada, and romantic prints at Louis Vuitton  – the one trend that has been gaining momentum is the “designer as activist.” Fashion activism is nothing new. In the 1930s the Keffiyeh became a symbol of political uprising and rebellion. In the 1960s, designers gave us peace symbol T-shirts in protest of the Vietnam war,  and mini-skirts, which became the symbol for women’s rights and sexual liberation. In 2017, Cosmopolitan listed 22 designers who used their runway shows to promote a particular cause or in protest of global injustice. From pussy hats to white bandanas with the hashtag #TiedTogether (a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance), according to designer Talbot Runhof, “If you have a platform to say something and you don’t, then shame on you.” In the age of social media and the internet, where opinions and messages are delivered in lightning speed, designers, actors and other influencers feel duty-bound and a certain responsibility to bring attention to the relationship between fashion, politics and social change.

Here are a few noteworthy designers who have shown more than just clothes on their runways, past & present.

OFF-WHITE

Virgil Abloh has developed a cult following with his collections for Off-White and the brand is worn by street style stars around the globe. For his men’s Spring 2020 show, Abloh focused on the negative effects of plastic and saving the environment. According to Abloh, “Plastic: once hailed as a miracle material, now condemned as a major pollutant — and possibly about to be considered a work of art.” The show’s invite was a clear plastic invitation with the words “plastic” printed on it.  Abloh believes plastic can be recycled and used to create something beautiful, such as art. Plastic even made its way in the collection with plastic rain gear and a hazmat suit.

As for the clothes, Abloh looks to street art for inspiration and tapped Futura, a contemporary of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, for the prints in this collection, case in point, a hand-painted white coat, top and pant look.To address his environmental concerns, Abloh featured an aquatic theme throughout the collection with shades of blue tie dye prints and amoeba-shaped appliqué motifs on knits.

The show ended with the models stomping through a beautiful field of white carnations that was created for the show. Abloh’s message was load and clear, we must protect our environment.

Virgil Abloh at his men’s Fall 2020 Off-White Collection. (Photo courtesy of theguardian.com)

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney has been one of the biggest advocates of the environment, a pioneer of sustainable fashion and an animal rights activist, since the creation of her namesake label in 2001.  McCartney Men’s 2020 collection was presented in a lush garden in Milan’s city center. According to Vogue.com, McCartney stated, “Let’s just forget fashion for a moment and savor all the natural beauty around us and talk about flowers!”

McCartney focused on playful tailoring, hand-printed silk shirts, ties and shorts with horse motifs, lightweight dusters and loose-fitting jumpsuits with satellite Earth prints and of course a collection that was fur free. McCartney kept the collection light and humorous, but her fight to save the earth is a serious one.

Stella McCartney’s Fall 2020 Men’s Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Pyer Moss

Herby Jean-Raymond launched his menswear label Pyer Moss in 2013 and followed up with a women’s collection shortly thereafter. In the few seasons Jean-Raymond has been presenting, the designer has quickly become known for his social activist stands. Most notably, he is inspired by the heritage of African-Americans, as well as social issues that this community faces today.

Pyer Moss Spring 2019. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dior

In July 2016 Dior announced that Maria Grazia Chiuri would be the first female creative director at Dior. Chiuri has been making political statements ever since.  T-shirts screen printed with “We Should All Be Feminists” and “Dio(R)evolution” were sold with proceeds going to Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, which fights against injustice, inequality & poverty and promotes access to education.

Christian Dior Spring 2017 Collection. (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Women’s Rights

Fall 2017 was a big season for designers to speak out about social injustice. Attendees at Missoni’s Fall show each received pink pussy hats (madefamous by the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017). Guests proudly wore the hats, as did the models during the finale.

According to Angela Missoni, creative director for the label, their message for Fall 2017 was all about “femininity in our times, prepared to confront the conflicts and dilemmas of our contemporary society: the conditions, needs, and rights of all women and minorities.”

Missoni’s Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of DailyNation.com)

Rio Uribe, the designer behind Gypsy Sport, gave a passionate speech before his show which focused on homelessness and refugee tent cities. “I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about my show,” he said from a mic backstage. “The Fall/Winter ’17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted. … I don’t want anyone who is gay, or Muslim, or disabled, or mentally ill, or a veteran, or a drug addict, or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone’s not willing to give them a chance.”

Gypsy Sport Fall 2017 Show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

Prabal Gurung created “The Future is Female” T-shirt for his Fall 2017 show. According to Gurung, “So to me feminism is not just a trending topic. It’s the only way I’ve known, even before I knew what [feminism] was.”

Bella Hadid sporting Prabal Gurung’s feminist T-shirt at his Spring 2017 show. (Photo courtesy of Forbes.com)

“All-inclusive” hit an all-time high in Fall 2017 as Christian Siriano enlisted models of all sizes to walk his runway show, from plus-size & petite to curvy, as well as plenty of racially diverse women. The 2008 Project Runway winner consistently speaks out against fashion magazines’ unrealistic body standards that are set by the modeling industry. He believes designers have the power to change this by adjusting their hiring process and sizing.

A plus sized model walks Christian Siriano’s show during his 2017 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of cosmopolitan.com)

During Tommy Hilfiger’s 2017 extravaganza in Venice Beach, models strutted down the runway wearing white bandanas as part of Business of Fashion’s #TiedTogether initiative. According to Business of Fashion founder and CEO Imran Amed, this campaign encouraged people to wear the colorless handkerchief “to make a clear statement in support of human unity and inclusiveness amidst growing uncertainty and a dangerous narrative peddling division.”

#TiedTogether Bandanas Hit Runway for First Time at Tommy Hilfiger. (Photo courtesy of Hollywoodreporter.com)

Also in 2017,  The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) partnered with Planned Parenthood to launch the “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” campaign to raise awareness about women’s health care during New York Fashion Week.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sporting a Planned Parenthood badge. (Photo courtesy of 14urban.com)

At the New York Spring 2018 shows, a “Get out and Vote” message dominated in advance of the U.S. mid term elections.

Prabal Gurung walks the runway in a Vote T-shirt show during New York Fashion Week Spring 2018. (Photo courtesy of Glamour.com)

Going Fur Free

While Stella McCartney has been creating fur-free and leather-free clothes for years, many designers have now jumped on the bandwagon.

As of September 2018, Burberry announced that it would also be going fur-free, a big move ever since Riccardo Tisci became the creative director for the label. The brand will no longer be using rabbit, fox, mink, and Asiatic raccoon fur, though they will still feature angora, shearling, and leather.

Burberry goes fur free as of Sept. 2018. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Shockingly, in March 2018, Donatella Versace announced that she would no longer be using fur in her collections. “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” she told 1843 magazine.

Versace goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In June 2017, protesters interrupted a live interview with Michael Kors at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with signs that read “Michael Kors has blood on his hands.” This prompted Michael Kors to announce that his company would be going fur free as of December 2018.

Michael Kors goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

In October 2017, Gucci announced it would be going fur-free as well. Alessandro Michele is opting for sustainable alternatives to create his “grandma-chic” vibe. Prada also added their name to the fur-free list as of 2020.

Gucci goes fur free. (Photo courtesy of teenvogue.com)

Following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York is now considering a ban on fur as well, however, there is a lot of push back. One of the oldest industries in New York City dating back to when Henry Hudson explored the region in 1609 and found French traders bartering for furs with Native Americans. New York became a thriving trading post of beaver and other skins that traveled through New York Harbor and to Europe. In fact, the official New York crest includes beavers, whose valuable pelts helped fuel the early fur trade. Stay tuned!

Designers with a History of Rocking the Boat

English fashion designer Katherine Hamnett is best known for her political T-shirts and ethical business philosophy. In 1983 she stated, “If you want to get the message out there, you should print it in giant letters on a T-shirt.” Celebrities such as George Michael (who was part of Wham at the time) wore one of her “Choose Life” tees in a music video for “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Roger Taylor of Queen, wore her “WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW” T-shirt during Queen’s historic appearance at the first edition of the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro.

Political T-shirts by Katharine Hamnett. (Photo courtesy of lovewildlivefree.com)

Vivienne Westwood is another British fashion designer and businesswoman, who was largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashion into the mainstream. Westwood has retail shops worldwide and sells a variety of merchandise; some of it linked to her many political causes, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, climate change and civil rights groups.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label SS14 fashion show. (Photo courtesy of Alan Davidson/The Picture Library LTD.)

In 2000, John Galliano created one of the most controversial fashion shows ever. For his Christian Dior Haute Couture collection, Galliano was inspired by the Paris homeless. As a master of shock value, his message rang loud and clear in a city of beauty and glamour. The show created such controversy that homeless activists picketed outside the Dior headquarters and riot police had to be called in to deal with the protesters. As a result, Dior’s flagship was closed for two hours and Galliano had to issue an apology statement,  “I never wanted to make a spectacle of misery.”

Christian Dior by John Galliano, spring/summer 2000 haute couture show. (Photo courtesy of newyorktimes.com)

Alexander McQueen’s inspiring showmanship is greatly missed, ever since his suicide on February 11, 2010. For the late designer’s Fall 2009 collection, McQueen took an environmental stance on the runway as his models dressed in fiercely tailored coats, boxy jackets and airy gazar dresses walked around a heap of trash. McQueen even referenced trash in some of his looks such as aluminum can accessories.  It was all so hauntingly beautiful.

Alexander McQueen’s  Fall 2009 ready-to-wear women’s collection during Paris Fashion Week. (Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

Karl Lagerfeld is another designer who is greatly missed for his theatrics. The late designer passed away on February 19, 2019 in Paris. For his Spring 2015 collection, Lagerfeld took a feminist stance and created a playful protest for woman’s equality. According to Vogue.com, “ Cara Delevingne and Caroline de Maigret had megaphones in hand as a parade of models including Kendall Jenner, Georgia May Jagger, Edie Campbell, Joan Smalls, and even Gisele Bündchen, brandished signs that read “History is Her Story,” “Feminism Not Masochism,” “We Can Match the Machos” and “Ladies First.” Even male model Baptiste Giabiconi waved a “He For She” banner, which just might be our favorite nod to Emma Watson’s global UN campaign yet. Perhaps the “Free Freedom” sign was a winking nod to Free the Nipple, the cause du jour for models like Delevingne, who opened the show and Kendall Jenner, who Instagrammed about it post show. “I’m Every Woman” blared from the speakers, and everyone danced in their seats.”

Chanel spring 2015 collection. (Photo courtesy of elle.com)

While some fashion critics predicted a worldwide boycott of Nike products after their controversial “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, they were proven wrong when the company reported a 10 percent jump in income. It turns out that millennials expect companies to take a position on social and political issues.

TELL US, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU THAT BRANDS TAKE A STAND ON SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ?

WORKING GIRL CHIC RULES THE RUNWAY IN MILAN & PARIS

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Saint Laurent (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

It may be the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese zodiac, but 2019 is turning out to be all about Female Power! Thanks to feminist movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and of course the Woman’s March that started as a worldwide protest against Donald Trump the day after his 2017 inauguration (and that has continued every year since), women are taking center stage around the world and demanding equality in every way. In 2018’s U.S. mid-term election, a record 117 women were elected to office. Finally … it looks like the tide has begun to change for women.

Rolling Stone's March  Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

Rolling Stone’s March Cover featuring: Jahana Hayes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and Ilhan Omar

With extraordinary women being elected to powerful positions, designers are stepping up to the plate and creating powerful looks for these new high-profile women. The Fall 2019 collections saw the return of the “Power Suit” (remember your fashion history? Gaultier, Montana and Armani – circa 80s?). And, while the 80s versions consisted of exaggerated shoulder pads, wide belts, slim midi-skirts and bow blouses, all in traditional menswear inspired fabrics and colors, designers are putting a new slant on what a powerful woman in the 21st century should look like. Who could ever forget Melanie Griffith in the 1988 film Working Girl. Every young girl starting her career aspired to be Melanie’s iconic character, Tess McGill. Well, move over Tess, today’s woman is independent, outspoken, confident, diverse, opinionated, political, empowered and socially-conscious. These are the new role models for Millenials, Gen Zers and all those other generations to follow.

Check out Anthony Vaccarello’s collection for Saint Laurent, a 1980s redux, complete with shoulders that extended two whole centimeters beyond the natural shoulder and updated the looks by introducing a neon color palette.

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl

And alas! Thirty years later, the power suit is back, but this time around, the suit is soft and feminine.  According to an interview by Olivia Stren, for FashionMagazine.com (September 17, 2018), designer Joseph Altuzarra stated, “I think that the suit, for a long time, was trying to emulate a menswear staple when women were wearing it to work. It was about hiding your femininity. With so many strong women today embracing a more tailored, feminine pantsuit silhouette, I think it has emerged as a symbol of female empowerment and strength. In our case, the tailoring is always about celebrating femininity and a woman’s strength.” Altuzarra  claims that tailored ‘workwear’ is at the heart of his brand and credits his mother, who clocked in at a bank every morning, as his inspiration.

With “women power” in the air, it was no surprise that power dressing and chic workwear were key trends on the Milan and Paris Fall 2019 runway. While many of the designers who embraced this trend were women, there were a few ‘woke’ men that embraced the movement as well. Namely…Karl Lagerfeld. Although Milan kicked off with the tragic news that Karl Lagerfeld has passed away on February 19th, his legacy lived on in his last collection for Fendi. And you just got the sense that, as always, Karl got the memo – Women Rule.

FENDI

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

He used to call me ‘la petite fille triste,” remembered Silvia Venturini Fendi, in an emotional backstage scene at the elegiac Fendi show, the last designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld, whom she first met when she was four years old. “Now is not the time to be sad,” she added, noting that Lagerfeld supervised every look in the focused collection that revealed what she called “those facets of himthe signatures that he had embedded into the brand’s DNA since he first met the quintet of Fendi sisters, including Venturini Fendi’s mother, Anna, in Rome in 1965.” Silvia Fendi stated to Vogue.com.

The collection included plenty of sharp tailoring paired with crisp shirts that added a refined, yet flirty, twist to office dressing.

MAX MARA

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Max Mara (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Who could forget Nancy Pelosi in her Max Mara coat on her way to meet with Donald Trump in December regarding border wall funding – this moment was the inspiration behind creative director Ian Griffiths Fall 2019 Max Mara collection. Ms. Pelosi was front and center on Griffiths’s Fall mood board as he made a strong connection between power and glamour. Griffith played with sharp tailoring, in head to toe monochromatic colors that ranged from soft camel to bold blues.

PRADA

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Prada (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

As one of the most politically-articulate designers in the fashion industry, having once been a member of the Italian Communist Party and an ardent feminist, the fear of war and the political turmoil worldwide has been a constant worry on Miuccia Prada’s mind. So, for her Fall collection, the designer was inspired by “romance and fear,” in of all things…a nod to the Bride of Frankenstein. For her romantic girls, Prada showed plenty of delicate lace capes, 3-D floral skirts and glittery red shoes, but these feminine gestures stomped their way into an army of utilitarianism looks that ranged from uniform military jackets to combat boots. The collection embraced the Prada woman; she’s smart, worldly, and understands the turmoil around her, yet she still really loves fashion.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Salvatore Ferragamo (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Just days before the show, Salvatore Ferragamo announced Paul Andrew’s promotion to creative director, overseeing all design operations for the company. For Andrew, it all starts with ‘the shoe.’ Case in point, a Ferragamo multicolored patchwork shoe that was created in 1942, which provided the collection’s color palette and patchwork prints. Andrew also showed a more refined side with a chic belted pantsuit and lots of tailored outerwear.

GIORGIO ARMANI

Giorgio Armani  (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Giorgio Armani (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

No one, and I mean no one, does tailoring better than Giorgio Armani. And for his Fall 2019 unisex show, the designer titled his collection “Rhapsody in Blue.” Although the collection was overwhelming dark (a sign of the times?), there were plenty of interesting details. Armani showed jodhpur pants paired with tailored jackets for day, while for evening he created a beaded floral shrunken jacket that was paired with velvet trousers for a relaxed take on eveningwear, as only Armani knows how.

GUCCI

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Gucci (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Okay, so you see the image of this houndstooth suit and you say, gotta be Chanel right? Well…wrong! It’s Alessandro Michele. Known for his eclectic, magpie collections for Gucci that often blast gender norms and historical mash-ups, for Fall 2019 he delivered a powerful collection filled with the treasured pieces you would find in your grandmother’s closet. With a nod to the 40s, Michele created tailored jackets that were cut to perfection for both men and women, as well as wide leg cropped trousers, Pierrot collar shirts and anything but basic outerwear. While this may have been a tamer Gucci collection, Michele infused plenty of eccentric touches – such as the fetish masks and metal ear coverings.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Among the designers that have truly taken their causes to the runway is Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Christian Dior. Season after season Chiuri takes a stand on women’s rights and equality. For Fall 2019, Chiuri channeled Italian conceptual artist Bianca Menna, who in the 1970s signed her work pseudonymously as Tomaso Binga, a man, to cunningly protest male privilege in the art world. The artist read a poem about the promise of a feminist victory at Chiuri’s show. As for the clothes, Chiuri was inspired by England’s “Teddy Girls” – 1950s working class girls who had a love of Rock & Roll and clubbing – as well as Dior’s  optimistic creations of the same time period. The collection was sportswear at its best! Chiuri layered rompers, skirts, coats, trousers and bustiers in a modern and fresh way.

DRIES VAN NOTEN

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Dries Van Noten is known for his bold prints and unapologetic use of color, but let’s face it, today’s state of the world is a bit darker so Van Noten turned out a hauntingly beautiful show. While his signature floral prints are traditionally romantic and vibrant, this Fall the floral motif took a somber turn. In an interview with Vogue, Van Noten stated “We picked them from my garden last October and photographed them. I wanted roses but not sweet roses—roses with an edge, roses for now. Flowers can be romantic, but this I wanted to take out, because the times are tougher than in the past. So you see the diseases, the black spot, the imperfections.

Van Noten opened the show with a lineup of polished gray pantsuits, perfect looks for the office (political or business), case in point, a pinstripe belted pantsuit with a matching puffer stole. How incredibly chic! Can you just imagine Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this?

CHLOE

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chloé paid a touching tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the late designer who designed for the house  from 1963 – 1983. When the fashion crowd arrived, they found placed on their seats postcards that featured images of Lagerfeld’s past collections, as well as his own comments about his work. One particular quote from 1975 still resonates today, “The essence of modern dressing—unstructured, weightless, [and] totally feminine.”

Fast forward, forty years later, and this is still the Chloé aesthetic; upscale bohemian in the chicest and most sophisticated way. For her Fall 2019 collection, Natacha Ramsay-Levi found her stride at the house. There were an abundance of breezy but polished dresses that every “It Girl” will crave. Ramsay-Levi paired these effortless frocks with mid-heel boots to complete the effortlessly cool look.

Sure Ramsay-Levi nailed the boho look, but she also showcased her talents as a great tailor with Prince of Wales trousers and skirts, military-inspired trousers and plenty of outerwear,  cut to perfection.

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Balmain (Courtesy of Vogue.com)

Meanwhile at Balmain, Olivier Rousteing went full-out 80s biker chic. Big shoulders, biker chains, black leather moto jackets and power suiting on steroids was his vision of the modern woman. But, not so sure about whether this through-back look will help women in today’s day and age like it did in the 80s. What would Nancy Pelosi or RBG say?

So tell us, where do you stand on power-dressing in the 21st century?