FEMINISM: so hot right now. Not feminism, as in, actual feminism. More like the general aesthetic of the second wave movement at some vague point between the 1960s and 80s, or whenever tweed pant suits were in. But with fashion. And signs. Does that still count? Either way, it’s all the same to Karl Lagerfeld.
Karl Lagerfeld showed the Spring 2015 Chanel collection in Paris on Tuesday, which began with boxy power suits, over-sized ties and messenger bags, and ended in a fully choreographed and heavily-rehearsed “feminist march,” complete with models carrying picket signs scribbled with phrases like “Be Your Own Stylist,” “Ladies First,” “Free Freedom” (huh?) and “Make Fashion Not War.” Lagerfeld led the faux-feminist demonstration.
There’s nothing inherently wrong or anti-feminist about a fashion line inspired by the spirit of a time period. Tweed, power suits, and shoulder pads are totally cool. Retro is totally cool. Cool, cool, cool. Fashion can be political, and has been used as a form of protest since forever. It just seems that Lagerfeld threw a bunch of TWEED! and POWER SUITS! and SHOULDER PADS! together in order to recreate the aesthetic of a specific time, which was fine, until he decided to try to make some kind of a statement about women’s empowerment but wasn’t really sure what that statement was. “Feministe Means Feminine!” “Tweed is better than Tweet!” Who cares if these signs are just random assortments of words I found in the dictionary? WOMEN! FEMINISM! FASHION! Very on trend. Very now.
Fashion itself isn’t “unfeminist,” and liking it isn’t an anti-feminist gesture. But the “girl power” (BAAAAARF — can we not?) angle is rich coming from the guy who once said about his label: “Chanel is an institution, and you have to treat an institution like a whore — and then you get something out of her.” The whole faux protest reads like a poor attempt at feminism-lite, an empty gesture and clever marketing ploy that co-opts a movement in order to capitalize on a trend. “When those feminist slogan bags drop next spring, we’re predicting a riot,” read one report on Lagerfeld’s Chanel show. If by “feminist slogan” they mean whatever nonsensical whatnot was written on those signs, I’ll pass.
Lagerfeld’s attempt at making a “statement” feels like a half-ass attempt to recreate the fashion version of feminist Beyoncé’s VMA performance. And Lagerfeld may be one of fashion’s leading creative geniuses, but he’s no Beyoncé.
Image Credit: Harry Carr/i-D