Fashion has long been hailed as an art form used to make powerful social and political statements. This year’s 2017 New York Fashion Week was no exception.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America partnered with Planned Parenthood and handed out pins with the motto, “Fashion stands with Planned Parenthood” at all of the shows. The goal was to “increase awareness, engagement and support” for the organization, which has recently been threatened by the Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s administration.
Many designers donned the pins; each time one of the pins was shared on social media with the hashtag #IstandwithPP, the Council of Fashion Designers of America donated $5 to Planned Parenthood.
In addition to this sweeping support, individual designers used their designs and shows to make statements regarding the current political atmosphere around the globe. Many American designers used their designs to protest the recent decisions of Trump and the oppression of women. On the other hand, British designers like Jenny Packman took the opportunity to explore the implications of the recent Brexit vote.
Tome—a New York City based line—utilized its show to further support Planned Parenthood. Its models were sent down the runway sporting the CFDA Planned Parenthood pins. At the end of the show, creative directors Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin wore “Stand with Planned Parenthood” T-shirts. They also showed their solidarity for Guerilla Girls, an anonymous all-female art coalition, by having “GG” on their blazers.
American designer Prabal Gurung—one of the designers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign—had arguably one of the most political and socially motivated collections of the year. His show featured garments with feminist statements emblazoned on the sleeves. One silk dress included snippets of famous speeches from feminist icons, such as Susan B. Anthony’s “They threw things at me, but they were not roses.”
In the show’s closing, rather than sending out an array of gowns as is traditional, Gurung sent out three models wearing pantsuits, which have recently become symbols of female empowerment.
In the finale, every model walked down the runway with T-shirts with different feminist statements on them. Gurung himself walked out wearing his own, which read, “This is what a feminist looks like.”
Jeremy Scott outfitted all of those who were helping with his show with T-shirts that read, “OUR VOICE IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL PROTECT US.” The actual designs in his show featured more subtle messages, as he was hoping to express support and the need for creative expression.
Many designers commented on the inclusivity of the fashion industry and how it is such a flexible and important mode of creative expression. Some designers stated that they did not care who was wearing their clothes; rather, they cared about the people that are connected to the narrative within the pieces.
It seems that the most prominent fashion trend this season was activism. Through colors, form and at times written words, these fashion designers used their designs to help spur others to action in order to bring to the world the changes they wish to see.