Fashion and Politics

How fashion outlines a political view

Fashion and politics are connected, indeed some people in the field release straightforward statements.

The Italian elections, held yesterday, caused concern about the risk of undermining what our parents and grandparents have tried to achieve so far. Something that still was a work in progress but now looks more like a “work in regress.” A political and cultural setback considering it is the first far-right government since Mussolini. Yes, it sounds scary.

Politicians shouting out loud worked to exacerbate a climate of hate. And since people don’t learn from history, repeating mistakes looks like the outcome. So, in this panorama, we found it interesting reading the thought of Pierpaolo Piccioli. One of the most prominent figures in the fashion industry took a clear stance on politics and Italian elections.

Can fashion be political?

Let’s start with a premise. When fashion pinpoints words such as inclusion, diversity or genderless, it envisions a specific worldview. And that vision of the world has a lot to do with politics, indeed.

So, in a time when some acquired rights are at risk, and that worldview based on ideas that bring people together, accepting all the differences may be swept away. And individual freedom and choices can vanish, it’s good to see people in the fashion industry who aren’t afraid to speak up.

Fashion politics

Pierpaolo Piccioli (Valentino’s designer), from his Instagram account, released a very on-point and heartfelt statement. He spoke in support of freedom, women’s choices on independent decisions about themselves and their bodies, and gender that doesn’t have to be only male or female. Indeed, he released a political statement calling himself “a man of the left.”

Perhaps, using words lightly when the world goes insane is not enough. Therefore, we must speak up to support the world we want and put our face on.

Whatever happens, we share what Piccioli wrote. We promote a world that values different cultures. And inclusion, diversity, human rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. Indeed we must respect everyone’s rights. It’s the worldview for modern humans.

But, in the end, we wake up today with a lesson to learn: never give our rights for granted!

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Haute couture: the diversity and inclusion debate

Between tradition and modernity, the latest haute couture shows brought about the debate on diversity and inclusion.

Haute couture shows were back with physical events, and the chit-chat was all about stars and starlets attending this or that one. Well, not just being present, but also walking down the catwalk.

Therefore, the lens pointed to celebrities and not to design or style. Perhaps it is a successful strategy in terms of sales but has no significance for us. Instead of making the show more appealing, it makes us lose interest. Though it demonstrates that you can be rich and famous, it doesn’t mean you have style.

Haute couture and modernity

According to Business of Fashion, diversity and inclusion were missed in Paris. Also, “couture codes are out of sync with the times.” “Big hats, corsets, and taffeta represent a snap back to the old days” – so they say. The only house that featured progress was Balenciaga.

Since we find Balenciaga’s vision quite scary and nonsensical, we prefer to leave modernism to the experts’ authority. And not that the world isn’t distressing as it is right now, but because it is so, it makes sense to work for something more positive.

Haute couture: art made by skilled hands

Haute couture is about beauty, top quality and perfection in execution. Art made by skilled hands. Indeed the show that mastered this concept at its best was Valentino on the steps of Piazza di Spagna in Rome. “The beginning” – back to where everything started for the brand.
With his stunning designs and marvellous silhouettes, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s show was an ode to beauty, colours and mastery. Furthermore, his focus on diversity and inclusion is a political message: people coming together for a better future.

We adored the maxi gowns with flat shoes or kitten heels.
However, experimenting with the future while acknowledging the past is where a truly contemporary vision resides.

Haute couture, diversity and inclusion

Of course, diversity and inclusion are valuable elements, but haute couture can not be inclusive.
Though we may sound boring in repeating this concept, haute couture will not be less elitist because they include plus sizes or different races in the show.

Haute couture is elitist by definition. The price makes it not accessible.

The truth is that you buy haute couture only if you can afford it and if you have a lot of money. Really a lot. Not because you feel represented.

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Milano Fashion Week 22

The return of physical events

Milano Fashion Week 22, with the return of physical events, was supposed to represent the relaunch for the economy and creativity.

Was it so? And what were the main topics?

Fall/Winter 22 trends

The nineties were the common thread seen almost everywhere.
As an expression of society, fashion – like history – repeats itself.

While the pandemic seems under control, another highly infectious virus spread among designers.
This virus is called “Balenciagitis.” When designers are affected, they create tons of exaggerated shoulders and extremized silhouettes. Of which you do not understand the point.

Raf Simons has been strongly infected, indeed you could see it in the Prada fashion show. Since the co-designing collaboration has started, Prada stopped dictating trends, as always did, and now follows the others.

Even Dolce and Gabbana were infected, we hope someone will soon find a cure for it.

Collab with sports brands. Or flea market outfits with the plus of co-branding, that’s what Gucci did with Adidas. Right, nothing new in the end. Just branding.

Milano Fashion Week 22

In January 2020, Stefano Pilati presented at Pitti his independent brand, Random Identities. The collection showed a few tailored pieces in a genderless key. About two years later, the creatives who create when something is already created, discovered the trend. Hey, all brands went genderless!

Round tables, talks, shows. Every single brand is sustainable! And the more they talk about it, the less they offer value. Moreover, “sustainable designers” and those who have hands in that industry offer something unattainable. Just smoke in the eye, generating a big misleading business.

What is the line between inclusivity and bad taste? This point is not clear to us. In fact, in many shows which focused on this topic, bad taste stood out.

Milano Fashion Week 22 most-liked

Our favourites
Jil Sander was one of the few fashion shows we enjoyed. We didn’t see much of Jil Sander in that, but, at least, we saw beautiful, well-made clothes developed in a coherent collection.

Bottega Veneta: iconic accessories, clean lines clothing with a high-end impact. Beautiful design, but no logo shown, no sensationalism. The essence of modern elegance and luxury. Bravo, Matthieu Blazy!

This is not a good time for creativity nor the economy. And so, a cultured audience has to dig a lot to find value. Because worthwhile designers, rather than being part of that inconsistent game, avoid communicating at all.

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Wheelchair? Please, don’t come!

Fashion, disability and non-inclusion

Inclusion and diversity are topics to which we are particularly sensitive. However, we had to overcome a certain discomfort to share this story with you. But if we want to make a change, we have to open up on this matter.

We acknowledged that Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana holds an event, at its second edition, named: “Including Diversity”.

Specifically, on Sept 20th – today – Camera Moda will discuss diversity and inclusion to promote both matters within the Italian fashion system. If you happen to read about it, you may think that the intent is noble and words strong. Everything looks so on point.

Yes, agreed. If only words correspond to facts. 

As we wrote in one of our recent posts, inclusion and diversity are much-discussed topics in the fashion field. We call them “the fashion bullshit” – because the smell of marketing is so strong. 

Inclusion and diversity: facts vs words 

After I was diagnosed with a degenerative disease, I can report a much different reality about fashion and inclusion based on my personal experience. Indeed, being a wheelchair user, I can say that not only showrooms lack accessibility but fashion events too. So, you have to entrust yourself to the empathy of employees working there. And you cannot take that empathy for granted!

In September 2019 – Covid hit the previous season – I was consulting for a brand showing in one of the exhibitions connected to Camera Moda. The designer had an invitation for an event dedicated to fashion buyers and emerging designers. Consequently, he invited me. 
I couldn’t go alone. I needed help with my wheelchair. And so, the designer informed the Camera Moda press office of the plus-one necessity. Something that shouldn’t require much explanation. No?

Their response was that because of the pandemic, they had limited access, so I wasn’t allowed to go with another person.
Of course, it meant I couldn’t take part in the event. 

My friends were shocked by the idea that I put myself in the position of asking permission. In the case of walking disability, plus-one is a fact, period. But I was afraid any reaction would cause problems for the brand I worked for.

Disappointed by that reply, I posted something on my Instagram. I was fuming, frustrated. Unable to reply as they deserved in that precise moment. Shortly after, a beautiful human DM’d me checking if she got my message right.

Laura Mohapi, a talented artist based in London, supported me. Also, she thought I had to address what happened and offered to write a letter to Camera Moda on my behalf. The idea of having to explain made me feel so bad, even if I knew it was right, so her offer was very welcome.

I read the letter she wrote, and it was like receiving a punch in my stomach. I pondered a lot. But finally, I decided to forward it by email.

No response in my inbox. Probably it went ignored. And so I sent a registered letter too.

This time the message got a little attention. Not that much. Indeed, I received in my inbox a forwarded email – in English. They didn’t even bother to make an effort to copy the English version they received and paste it into a new email. They paid zero attention to the form, giving the impression that what happened had no relevance for them. Or perhaps, they weren’t familiar with how to handle official emails. 

In the end, it took me almost two years to find the courage to write about it. But the sadness, frustration and disappointment when I see those “Include Diversity” events still make me feel sickened.

And so, Cri and I wonder: when they launch those events for the fashion industry, what do they really mean?

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The fashion bullshit

A list of notorious fashion marketing empty claims

The fashion industry loves to discuss important matters that we would better describe as fashion bullshit.

How does the system work?
As soon as a new concept becomes popular in the fashion field, the proclamation gets released. So the word spreads. As a result, marketing takes over the subject right away. And, once marketing steps in, you can feel the smell of it. Indeed, you will perceive a sense of fakeness that permeates the whole set of communication.

As voices outside the chorus, we’ve created a list of some of the fashion bullshit: terms that, the more people in the field put at the centre of the discussion, the more they sound weird.

The fashion bullshit list:

usually said about things done and redone. Again and again. Eye roll when you hear this word.

a kind of mystical belief we like to talk about, but never happens.

or the fake representation of it. What remains after the voluntary shift towards overproduction and mass distribution.

Affordable luxury:
a total absurdity launched to compensate for the collapse of real luxury.

the biggest bullshit of our times. The majority of designers who wave this flag have no design imprint. Therefore, have no reason to exist.

possible or allowed only in fashion shows or advertising.

possible or allowed only in fashion shows or advertising.

possible or allowed only in fashion advertising. But please, don’t show up during fashion event!

gender-fluidity is popular in fashion shootings. But when you go shopping, items are divided by categories. And so, the shop assistant kindly invites you to shop in the section assigned to your gender.

possible only as co-branding (sharing a profit). However, very rare among fashion professionals as a genuine exchange.

did not report.

Does anyone have anything to add to this list?

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