Around the world, activists are struggling to make their voices heard and fighting for what they believe in. They seem unable to get their messages across effectively. Maybe they need to find a more creative way to speak to the world. But who would have thought that a group of models and bold outfits would do just that?
Paris Fashion Week marks the end of the long traveling circus of models who bounced from town to town each week to parade in some of the biggest fashion shows of the year. From New York to Milan, via Paris, the world is beginning to better understand what lies behind the inspiration of each designer. Many high-end designers have stepped up and used their creativity as well as their platform to focus on some important issues currently unfolding in our world.
With all the terrible chaos that has taken place between Russia and Ukraine, designer brand Balmain has brought the situation to the fore. On Wednesday March 2, the models gave a moving performance to pay tribute to Ukrainian soldiers who are desperately fighting for their country. Balmain used dancers to showcase some of their exquisite outfits and added hats that looked like soldier helmets as well as chunky boots that definitely looked like combat boots.
Some of the models even strutted down the runway in silver bodysuits mimicking full body armor suits. The dancers performed a routine where they fought to the chilling sound of drum music and sent chills through the crowd as they were surrounded by the overwhelming sense of conflict and war. But the routine ended with the strong message of peace over conflict as the two lead ‘soldiers’ embraced at the end. It was certainly a moment that will not be forgotten and that marked Olivier Rousteing’s collection.
Balmain used its show to draw attention to the biggest news in the world right now, but the Chloe brand has shed light on a subject that is discussed every year but remains a growing problem. Creative director Gabriela Hearst has used her collection to focus more on climate change and conservation. The collection is meant to be based on the concept of rewilding, which is the restoration of the earth to its natural state as well as the repair of ecosystems.
The designer made sure her message was heard through the small details of the show. The soundtrack the models walked to began with a slow, jungle-like beat that incorporated the cries of crickets, the light beat of a drum, as well as the sounds of rustling grass. As the show continued, the music gradually became more upbeat and lively. The music indicated how the ecosystem was restored over time.
Another minor detail that indicated a theme from the show was hidden among the bags that some of the models were carrying. If you look closely some of the models were clutching bags with portraits of icebergs and polar bears on them. A few models even made their way down the runway in an outfit that showed an ecosystem stitched only in black and white, but on the back was the same image but made from a range of different colors. One of the last details that symbolized the repair of the ecosystem was the fact that a large part of the collection was made of over-fabric.
It looks like Balmain and Chloe have decided to tackle more pressing matters that are currently being seen in the news media today. Coperini decided to appeal more to troubled youth by focusing its collection on the theme of rebellious youth. Most of the outfits seen depicted teenagers breaking the school dress code and bringing their own style to their school attire. The models wore non-traditional school blazers that had been turned into capes over the model’s head almost like a depiction of teenagers hiding from their struggles and trying to hide their looks from their peers. Some other outfits showed models wearing traditional schoolgirl outfits with mini-skirts and knee-high socks, but with a touch of angst, such as the incorporation of leather and more provocative styling. There were even dresses that looked like ball gowns, except they were skin-tight and restyled to fit the theme with slits.
It wasn’t just the outfits that seemed to give off this provocative, high school theme, but the show’s decor also contributed greatly. The models walked down the runway to the sound of a 90s soundtrack pausing to allow a voice to make an announcement over the “speaker” like a typical high school morning announcement. The room was also lined with gray metal lockers behind the audience. It was plain and clear that the actions and style of a disobedient teenager were on Coperini’s style director’s mind.
Saint Laurent has partnered with the other brands to use their platform to highlight a topic they deem important. The brand has centered its entire collection around the style of British writer and political activist Nancy Cunard. Cunard used her position as a wealthy upper-class citizen to help fight racism, a topic still relevant today. Saint Laurent took the racist side of things by using a bland color palette of black, brown and silver to represent a variety of skin tones. Cunard was also known for wearing big jewelry, so the collection featured lots of chunky, chunky jewelry to accessorize some of the outfits. Jewelry included rings, bracelets, and necklaces, all as a means of recognizing Cunard’s works.
While other designer brands used their sets to go with their theme, Saint Laurent broke the trend with other projects in mind. They made sure their show stood out from the rest by making the location of their show probably the most breathtaking with the illuminated Eiffel Tower on display in the background. They may not have stayed true to the theme of their outfits, but they certainly took the crowd’s breath away and drew attention to their show.
As models take their final steps on the catwalk for Paris Fashion Week, which brings fashion month to a close, critics are buzzing with a new appreciation for every cause the designers support. It may not be enough to end every one of these ongoing questions, but at least it’s one more step in turning the public’s eyes in that direction.