As I’m sitting in front of my laptop writing this article, I’m sporting a Hillary Clinton-inspired shirt that reads “NASTY” across it. That’s right, power to the people. It’s obvious that fashion played a huge role in this election cycle. I can’t help but feel empowered after seeing fashion designers using their platform to speak out for the people who aren’t heard. We have now, more than ever, turned to fashion for what it really is: a form of self expression and identity. Through this, many of us have found our voice, including me.
I have never been that involved in politics until this past election. I don’t think I have ever been so passionate and outspoken about anything in my life. It was unavoidable when scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Myself included, but I have absolutely no shame in that. After all, aren’t social media platforms an outlet for conversation and opinion sharing? Fashion is really a response to what is happening in the world, so before NYFW even began, I was anticipating seeing how designers would go about their shows or presentations no matter what “side” they were on during the election. It would be an understatement to say that we will not let our voices be silenced over the next few years.
New York-based clothing and accessories designer Wendy Nichol showcased her Fall 2017 collection during NYFW. Her designs signified the concept of “dressed to protest.” The models that were used for the show held up signs in protest to our nation’s current state, one reading, “I am an immigrant” and another “I am a warrior.” If you go beyond first glance, you’ll notice the subtle elements of Nichol’s show that gave a nod to unity. One particular look, the model with her sign that read “I am an immigrant” in knee-high leather boots adorned with safety pins, signified solidarity. There was only one pop of color in the entire collection...red. The color of love and anger which were clearly relevant responses to the election results.
We look to Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School for comic relief and their take on the infamous red Trump caps embellished with their own slogan, “Make America New York.” Meanwhile, for other designers, the issue of politics ran deeper. One of the most anticipated shows yet of Calvin Klein with Raf Simons as their newest creative director debuted on day two of NYFW. Without a doubt, the Fall 2017 Ready to Wear collection left myself and many others itching to see more of what Simons has up his sleeves. The bulk of the show consisted of Americanism sewn into androgyny blended with refined tailoring. The brand clearly made a nod towards the current commander in chief of the nation as a dismal tune rung “this is not America” throughout their 39th Street headquarters.
Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia took inspiration from the Italian Renaissance for her Fall 2017 collection. Quick history lesson for you: the Italian Renaissance was a time of renewal, changes in culture, and of great achievements. In my opinion, Bendet never disappoints with her creativity, and aside from the full skirts emulated in Italian Renaissance art, there was one look that caught my eye. A sequined matching pantsuit paired with a white graphic tee that read the famous quote, “BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” Is it safe to say this collection was Bendet’s beacon of hope for the future?
As was no surprise, NYFW exceeded my expectations and will always be seen as the hub where culture and society can coexist happily. I truly believe that fashion will be a force to be reckoned with these next few years, and I know it will be used as a platform for many to let their voices be heard. Apart from the fact that designers look to the past for inspiration, I think that we should all have high hopes when looking to the future and what amazing things will emerge from creative minds.
There was at least one thing that leaves me with some peace of mind; as Anna Wintour once said, “Fashion goes in only one direction–forward–and I am a firm believer in thinking that way too.”