Chanel’s rather masculine and colorful Spring–Summer 2015 women’s ready-to-wear clothing line was not the only thing to grab the attention of critics and Paris Fashion Week attendees on Sept 30.
Toward the end of the show, a few models, including Kendall Jenner, strutted down a dashing Parisian boulevard-inspired runway under the towering roof of the Grand Palais.
Silence consumed the entire venue as shouts and cheers erupted from the runway where Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel, and a plethora of models led by rising star Cara Delevingne, of England, stormed down the runway holding up signs and shouting, “What do we want? When do we want it?” Following behind the troupe of models was the only male model in the show holding a HeforShe placard, demonstrating support for Emma Watson’s Sept. 20 speech at the United Nations Headquarters inviting men to help empower women and the feminist movement.
The signs in tow displayed statements including “Women first” and “History is her story.” Although the model’s response to what they “wanted” was inconclusive and muffled, it was clear that the models and Lagerfeld were encouraging the feminist movement, according to a Sept. 30 The Guardian article.
The demonstration was a hit with the show’s audience. Photographers rushed from the stands onto the runway to photograph the models dressed from head-to-toe in what looked like the aftermath of falling into a field of flowers and an abundance of tweed fabric.
Trish Halpin, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, told The Guardian that Lagerfeld’s feminist gesture could have been an attempt to remind the industry of the feminist values of the late Coco Chanel, the brand’s founder.
Lagerfeld attempted to make a powerful statement supporting feminists, but this gesture is coming from the same man who once announced that curvy women shouldn’t be on the runway during an Oct. 4, 2013 episode of “Le Grand 8,” a French television show.
Usually my attention would be on the fashion and just how Lagerfeld was able to master the key design elements that make the brand classic, as well as being able to push the boundaries in the women’s ready-to-wear line as he always does.
However, I could not overlook that Lagerfeld wasn’t just testing the limits in fashion, but he was giving women the wrong idea of what being a feminist is about.
Fashion models already misrepresent the image of the average woman with their unrealistically slim figures. Accompanied with the display of slightly contradictory signs such as “Feminist but feminine” the demonstration reinstated the negative stereotypes that are commonly associated with the feminist movement.
Although the attempt was flawed in several ways, I’m sure it will still inspire men and women.
Nonetheless, the future of feminism seems promising. Lagerfeld cannot do everything perfectly, and I guess I understand.