Thoughts

Model and Actress Hari Nef. Photo Courtesy i-D

The Other Sex

· Thoughts · , , , , ,

“New York needs a confidence boost.”

Hari Nef is taking the fashion world by storm, sparking a strong discussion on what it means to be transgendered in an industry often defined by binary gender codes. In a recent interview with Bullett, she goes into more detail about distinguishing androgyny from being trans and where New York could use more improvement.

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Marc Jacobs fall 2015 ready-to-wear; Photo Courtesy John Minchillo, AP

Women of New York

· Runway, Thoughts · , , , ,

New York Fashion Week fall/winter 2015 finally came to a close, and although we’ve still got London, Milan, and Paris to keep an eye on, the industry is definitely breathing a collective sigh of relief. So, what did we take away from the whirlwind of these hundreds of shows from the past week, and what does it mean for fashion-conscious females? We’re not going to go into trends for the new season quite yet. Instead, let’s take a look at New York designers’ visions for the modern woman and what messages are being presented.

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Rihanna at the 2015 Grammys. Photo Courtesy CNN

The Walk of Shame

· Celebrities, Thoughts · , , , , ,

On the heels of our general discussion on awards shows, let’s talk about possibly their worst accessory: the red carpet.

Red carpet coverage has become a breeding ground for judgment, where certain media members are given the platform to tear a woman’s outfit apart. And yes, this type of scrutiny seems to completely bypass male celebrities. Let’s face it, there isn’t much to comment on in general when talking about a guy’s suit, since male celebrities’ red carpet styling is usually only given an extra edge via a boutonnière or a tie bar or another subtle detail to his otherwise stoic tuxedo. And if there is an instance of more austere menswear styles, that male will be commended for his “adventurous” streak.

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Entertainment for the White Male

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Let’s take a step away from fashion for a moment to discuss some issues in the larger sphere of pop culture. With the Grammys still in our recent memory and the Oscars quickly approaching, there’s a lot to talk about.

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Photo Courtesy Dolce & Gabbana via Refinery 29

Let’s Talk About Diversity

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There’s a common sentiment these days that we live in a post-racist world; to many, racism is a thing of the past, something that we’ve completely moved away from. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially in the context of fashion. It’s something that often goes unnoticed in the midst of the industry’s fast pace, something that seems brushed aside and undermined.

It’s been brought up before, but we’re not done talking.

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Photo Courtesy Lea Colombo for Dazed

The Nature of Nudity

· Men's, Runway, Thoughts · , , , ,

A Rick Owens fashion show is always a big deal, and his latest presentation for his fall 2015 menswear collection was no exception. Titled “Sphinx,” the range included extreme length and dramatic silhouettes aplenty, while studded leather tunics and experimental cuts also had their time to shine. A series of peacoats – though crafted and detailed at a couture-like standard – were more direct than almost anything Owens has ever presented. But that wasn’t the series of items that got the most attention.

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Photo: Tiziana Fabi. Source: AFP

The Casting Catastrophe

· Models, Runway, Thoughts · , , , , , ,
Photo: Tiziana Fabi. Source: AFP

Photo: Tiziana Fabi. Source: AFP

The lights dimmed, and the first statuesque figure turned the corner around the massive purple sand dunes at the spring 2015 Prada show. There she was. After six long years since a runway appearance, and even after she allegedly quit modeling for good, Gemma Ward was back. Many could state that her appearance suggests a restoration of the days when models had recognizable names, faces, and personas. Sure, the era of the supermodel was long-gone by the time Ward and her contemporaries had peaked in the mid-2000s, but memorable, unique, and multifaceted beauty was still in. These days, that’s not the case.

Sure, some other notable industry icons walked the runways this season besides just Gemma Ward. Lara Stone made a rare runway appearance at Prada, too, as did Jessica Stam. Stam also popped up at Public School in New York, Mugler in Paris, and many more shows this season. Meanwhile, Naomi Campbell, Mariacarla Boscono, Natasha Poly, Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss, and other established mannequins counteracted the larger trend of the “blank slate.” But aside from a handful of girls who embody what it means to be a model, this season’s casting was the saddest yet.

Is this really what the fashion industry is coming to? While the idea of a model being a “blank slate” was originally intended to place a higher emphasis on the clothes, all-white casts of – for lack of a better word – strikingly unattractive teenagers has become an even bigger distraction.

Of course, the biggest problem with the casting this season was the lack of diversity. It comes as a major shock that after a couple seasons of mild improvements, casts have been seemingly more whitewashed than ever before. The bad habits reared their ugly heads once again: one or two black models was the norm at most shows, with even less Asian models on the runways, and almost no models of South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latina descent. Some even thought it would be okay to send all of their models of color down the runway at once.

Did we all forget about Bethann Hardison‘s amazing work in an attempt to diversify the runways less than a year ago? Hardison just received a CFDA award a few months ago for her efforts. Has that just been erased from everyone’s memory? The usual perpetrators were back at it this season. Casts appeared whiter than ever at Calvin Klein, Rodarte, Jil Sander, Céline, John Galliano, Dior, Proenza Schouler, and more. Meanwhile, Simon Porte Jacquemus deleted comments and blocked users on Instagram who criticized his all-white cast, stating offense because of his supposed obsession with women who look like his mother. Sorry, but the Oedipus Complex doesn’t qualify as a valid excuse for racist casting.

Even labels with typically diverse casts fell behind this season. Riccardo Tisci previously mentioned his advocacy of diversity on the runway, but at his latest show for Givenchy, that didn’t translate. Nor did Tom Ford’s penchant for a cast of multiethnic sex bombs; does Natalie Westling’s excruciating hobble really represent this label?

This issue poses an even bigger problem that people might not be conscious of. Again, models aren’t the household names that they once were, save Cara, Karlie, Gisele, and their contemporaries. But models are still everywhere. The girls that walk all of these shows will be the ones to snatch up the advertisements, and these large-scale visions of what is beautiful will perpetuate and even worsen the already twisted beauty standards around the globe. Why would a brand want to be seen as a bastion of white supremacy, represented by a hard-to-look-at 16-year-old nonetheless? And for the casting supposedly “based on socioeconomics,” why would you want to alienate yourself completely from certain groups?

On the bright side, there are still a few brands whose presentations should be commended. Of course, there’s always room to be improved in this department, but labels like Balmain, Burberry Prorsum, Diane von Furstenberg, and Rick Owens showed that it is possible to cast a more diverse range of models, while recognizable faces of all ethnic backgrounds don’t take away from the clothes. Meanwhile, relative newcomers like Malaika Firth, Issa Lish, Binx Walton, Bhumika Arora, Leila Nda, and Aya Jones provided a hopeful view of the multiethnic runways and memorable figures to come. The struggle towards diversifying the runway isn’t about all-black, all-Asian, or all-any other type of show. Instead, it shouldn’t be seen as some type of major surprise if a lineup consists of a proportionate amount of models from various ethnicities. There’s a time and a place for Harleth Kuusik, and there’s no reason why she can’t walk the runway alongside girls like Dylan Xue and Emely Montero.

Of course, there is so much more to this issue; we haven’t even touched menswear, and we could get way more in-depth from a sociological and historical framework. To the people getting annoyed by the incessant discussion of this topic in the fashion sphere: it’s just as annoying to have to keep bringing it up. This piece isn’t meant to call out a bunch of designers, cyber-bully models, or cause unnecessary Internet drama within the industry. None of the designers’ immense talent is in question, as even some of the most disappointing casts carried some insanely beautiful work. But it’s time to wake up. If calling out racist actions causes a stir, then maybe that’s what the industry needs. This isn’t the 1950s (not that racism was ever okay), and it’s time for the fashion industry to catch up to the rest of the world. And while this type of change won’t happen overnight, we could at least start seeing more unique beauties like in years past. Let’s hope that Gemma Ward’s return will usher in a resurgence of inspiring, immensely beautiful fashion models, and let’s hope that diversity comes along with it.

 

Tell us how you feel about the current climate of the modeling industry, and don’t hesitate to repost and share this article.

ri w

Wild…?

· Thoughts · , , , ,

just debuted their September cover, the biggest of the year, which features none other than Rihanna. This comes just days after news broke of the superstar’s new trademark, while the undisputed fashion icon has generally been having one hell of a moment. On the glossy, Riri’s seen in tribal-inspired makeup with hair, jewelry, and attire to match. And while the singer looks as stunning as always, the theme has certainly raised a few eyebrows; some are calling the editorial racist and culturally insensitive, with the cover prompt referring to Rihanna as “the wildest style icon.”

It’s not hard to see why people took offense to the spread. For one, the use of tribal hair and makeup and styling pushes the idea of exoticizing indigenous groups, turning cultural practices into stylish trends without much regard for their deeper significance. And the use of the word “wild” doesn’t quite help, either. The term implies being uncivilized, and it only looks worse when this is all applied to a woman of color. Essentially, many viewers argue that W is fetishizing certain ethnic groups while simultaneously executing a racially insensitive concept.

On the other hand, there are always people who deem others “too sensitive.” Though a normally baseless accusation, the counterargument brings up a valid point: what draws the line between being inspired by a culture and cultural appropriation?

To many, a fantastical, often exaggerated version of a concept can be used as a way to show fascination and appreciation towards it. However, the end result can often be seen as ignorant or belittling. The same issue has come up multiple times, as recently as March of this year. In an almost identical spread from Vogue Italia, titled “Wonderfully Wild,” Dutch model Saskia de Brauw donned a variety of tribally styled outfits and face paint that many saw as blackface. It goes without saying that reactions weren’t so great. But it also makes us wonder, how does this current situation differ from what we saw just a few months ago? Is this still cultural appropriation, only hidden behind the shield of a pop-culture icon? Is the cover acceptable because Rihanna and the stylist, Edward Enninful are both black?

A little controversy can always be exciting, but there’s a difference between an editorial that’s overtly sexual, drug-related, or shocking in another way and a spread like this. It’s safe to say that race and culture are touchy subjects in fashion, with countless examples of controversy emerging in recent years. The division between appreciative inspiration and insensitive mockery often becomes problematic, regardless of how harmless the intentions might be, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for image makers to be a bit more cautious.

 

Check out Rihanna’s full cover and spread from W’s September issue below, shot by Mert & Marcus and styled by Edward Enninful, and let us know YOUR thoughts!

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All photos by Mert & Marcus for W Magazine

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Let’s Make Tokyo Happen

· Inspiration, Thoughts · , , , , , , ,
Et Momonakia; Photo Courtesy AP

Et Momonakia; Photo Courtesy AP

The Asian market is a huge deal when it comes to sales in the fashion industry. Meanwhile, Eastern cultures and traditions have served as inspiration for countless designers’ collections. However, something’s missing.

There’s quite a lot to be seen between New York, London, Milan, and Paris during Fashion Month, while certain fashion shows gain tons of attention when they pop up in other cities. But what about Tokyo?

There’s nothing wrong with any of our other major fashion capitals, but we’ve got to play favorites for a second. Only in Tokyo – or all of Japan for that matter – can you find everything from the sharpest, sleekest minimalism to the brightest and boldest styles of the future to over-the-top Harajuku style and everything in between. In all elements of Japanese culture, precision and perfection are pivotal, whether more outlandish or pared back designs. More importantly, the things that we’ve seen from Tokyo-based designers never follow trends, always representing genuine individuality and artistry, regardless of the aesthetic.

Yes, some of the biggest Paris-based fashion entities have Japanese ties, including Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Kenzo. But over in Tokyo, there’s still labels worth noticing like Atsushi Nakashima, Jun Okamoto, Phenomenon, Yasutoshi Ezumi, Kamishima Chinami, and Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine, to name a few. Although Style.com made the major move of covering Tokyo Fashion Week during the spring 2013 and fall 2013 seasons, the underrated fashion mecca still hasn’t seemed to have gained the traction it deserves.

Again, various elements of Japanese fashion have contributed to and inspired endless collections and editorials, so it would only make sense that there would be a stronger focus on Tokyo, if not the entire country of Japan. So, what gives? Let’s make this a thing. Let’s make Tokyo happen!

Check out some of our favorite examples of Tokyo-based fashion below

Yuma Koshino

Yuma Koshino

toky0

Hiroko Koshino

Hiroko Koshino

 

 

Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine

Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine

Yuma Koshino

Yuma Koshino

Matohu

Matohu

Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine

Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine

Hiroko Koshino

Hiroko Koshino

Yuma Koshino

Yuma Koshino

Matohu

Matohu

Photo Credit: fashiondevotee.com

Thank You, Bethann

· Inspiration, Thoughts · , , , , , , ,
Photo Credit: fashiondevotee.com

Photo Credit: fashiondevotee.com

You’ve probably heard the name Bethann Hardison at least once recently. The Brooklyn native first made waves as one of the most successful black models during the 1970s, appearing on countless top-tier runways and magazine covers. Shortly after, she started the Bethann Management Agency, subsequently followed by the Black Girls Coalition, both of which aimed to help diversify the fashion industry. But that was just the beginning.

There’s no denying that race has played and interesting and often difficult role in fashion, as the industry noted for its unique viewpoints and varied ideologies has an unfortunate discriminatory tendency. However, Bethann Hardison has been arguably the most crucial player when it comes to integrating the industry, comparing her activism in one interview to the MTA’s “if you see something, say something policy.” There’s no doubt that Ms. Hardison is saying something.

And the world is finally listening.

Hardison’s biggest push towards diversifying the fashion industry – particularly in terms of modeling – came in 2013, when she teamed up with Naomi Campbell and Iman to launch Balance Diversity and the Diversity Coalition. Sure, most people noticed when the team wrote letters to the major governing fashion bodies in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, naming several major fashion houses that were guilty of the racist act of casting only white models in their presentations. But the statement was more than just some juicy gossip. Instead, it was the wakeup call that the industry finally needed.

Bethann Hardison’s valiant, thoughtful, courageous, and inspirational battle towards changing the immensely disappointing trend of implicit and explicit racism in fashion was honored at the monumental CFDA Awards on Monday, June 2. Receiving the Founder’s Award for her relentless work, the iconic figure finally received the support of the American fashion realm – looking stunning in an embellished Prabal Gurung gown, nonetheless.

Of course, change doesn’t happen over night, a fact that Bethann Hardison has mentioned before. However, we have been seeing some – albeit small – improvements regarding diversity in the fashion industry. While we can only hope for this to progress, we have to note Bethann Hardison’s pivotal role in making one of the greatest changes imaginable.

Thank you Bethann Hardison.