Graf: Feminist fashion, a faux pas

BY L.C. GRAF | OCTOBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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When Beyoncé stood as a beautiful silhouette against the word, “FEMINIST,” I knew my world would be forever changed. It wasn’t just her long legs and glittery leotard. It wasn’t just her rapping hip-hop dancing contagious beats. It wasn’t even the fact that I seriously considered naming my own child (not like I have one, but in the future) Blue Ivy.

No, I knew everything was going to be different when one of the most powerful, talented, and sexiest woman on the planet, outright said she was a feminist. I say that, and people assume I have a cat (I have a hedgehog), and they think I burn my bras (I prefer them fresh out of the dryer instead of the oven). Someone out there is always going to either understand I’m for equality of the sexes (true), or they’re going to assume I don’t shave my legs and yell mean things at men (only partly true).

Some people, eventually, come out of the proverbial closet and accept that they were born feminists. I hope everyone can learn to be one. In fact, I see more people starting to claim the “F Word.” Feminism is an ongoing movement that keeps gaining more ground. Social media have given us the ability to spread hashtags on hashtags and to call out celebrities on where they stand for equal rights for everyone. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and even Pinterest … they’re shaping up to be a way for communities to push their message.

On the downside to all of this, there are people who are jumping on the feminist tag without really understanding what it is. Karl Lagerfeld, a German fashion designer, artist, and photographer, threw together a pretty solid feminist protest during the finale of the Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday. Chanel models marched with signs and megaphones, chanting about “He for She” (thanks Emma Watson) and strutting Gloria Steinem inspired outfits. I think I even saw cuffed jeans in one photo.

Coco Chanel was a straightforward feminist; she understood that being fashion forward didn’t mean you had to sacrifice your rights or vice versa. But Lagerfeld has made misogynist comments and stirred controversy plenty of times. He has been quoted as saying that everything he does is a joke.

Is this feminist show part of that joke? Furthermore, Lagerfeld has styled Native American headdresses on white models, he’s made purses to look like gas canisters, and he’s made it clear that he doesn’t like women who are of the plus-sized variety (“fat mommies with bags of crisps”).

It seems baffling that Lagerfeld of all people would join in on the feminist movement. So I just can’t believe that he really is. The finale took people by surprise of course, but it seems more like a ploy to get people to buy designer handbags than it is a support for the movement.

There’s nothing wrong with putting feminism in fashion, but there is something wrong with using the feminist message to create profit and not change.

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