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  • Writer's pictureDaria Mudrova

Women's time: how modern feminism is changing the fashion industry

Right now we are witnessing the development of the fourth wave of feminism - with its characteristics and recognizable faces on the front lines. We understand in the material how the fashion industry supports important movements now, and what has already been done to make our life easier.

"Beauty requires sacrifice" - this common assertion is outdated. Now fashion has been created so that a woman feels stunning, confident, and at the same time comfortable. It turned out to be possible, it was only necessary to cross out the studs and tight dresses from everyday life. Fashion has always reflected the culture and social problems, modern times are no exception: quality and comfort - this is the main fashion setting of successful, beautiful, and confident women of the 21st century. The founder of My Beauty Box, a beauty expert, Daria Mudrova, spoke about the impact of feminism on the fashion industry.

Gabrielle Chanel in his pajama suit, New York, 1931 Actress Greta Garbo in the 30s, Marie Claire Credit

If you recall how it all began, then the most daring feminist breakthrough in the world of fashion can rightly be considered wearing trousers. At the beginning of the last century, women became more active: cycling, skiing, traveling ... Ladies are catching up with men in their hobbies, and French fashion designers come to help. On the Paris counters for the first time begin to sell harem pants. But more than one year will pass before the great Coco Chanel seriously talks about practical elegance and begins a radical transformation of the women's wardrobe. And only by the end of the 60s, Yves Saint Laurent managed to truly legitimize the trouser suit in the women's wardrobe. Ladies in trousers got off the catwalk and went outside. And the final victory of women's trousers can be considered the appearance of jeans. They convincingly "equalized" women with men. And as it happens, the devil is in the details: in this case, the whole thing was in lightning, now it was not located on the side, as before, but on the front, as in men.

Costume Yves Saint Laurent, 1967

And although several decades have passed since then, women still need to fight for their place in the sun of comfort. Often the concept of "feminism" is ridiculed and deliberately confused with groveling and aggression. In fact, "feminism" is more about subjectivization, the transformation of a woman from a passive sexual object into an active subject, into a full-fledged personality with her desires, ambitions, feelings, and the right to look the way she wants it to.

Now we are witnessing the fourth wave of feminism. It began to emerge in 2008, mainly in the online space. In 2009, American feminist Jessica Valenti, the founder of, was the first in an interview with the New York Times that the Internet is a place where feminist discourse has developed with renewed vigor. With the advent of social networks, feminist campaigns and discussions have actively moved online. The #MeToo movement instantly spread to social networks in October 2017. Ordinary women and celebrities under this hashtag talked about how they once became victims of sexual harassment. The scandal was fueled by the story of Harvey Weinstein and eventually resulted in thousands of stories of women victims, in a campaign against harassment, for the equal rights of transgender people, body-positive, and an active fight against sexism. It was at this time that there was a fashionable coup for self-respecting mass-market campaigns and a luxury segment.

Natalie Portman, America Ferrera, Emma Stone, and Billy Jean King at the Golden Globe Awards on January 7, 2018. Stars chose black outfits in support of the #MeToo movement, Marie Claire Credit

This played a cruel joke with Victoria's Secret, which for the first time in many years canceled its show because it was unable to adapt in time to the new realities of the #MeToo era. Due to the words of marketing director Ed Rezek about the prohibition of plus-size and transgender models on the show, Victoria's Secret lost a significant market share. On top of that, a scandal erupted over harassing models, after which Leslie Wexner, executive director of the company, announced the sale of his share of the stock and the resignation from managing the company.

Victoria's Secret show in 2018, Marie Claire Credit

In contrast to hypersexual aesthetics, the Agent Provocateur brand is more sensitive to women's social moods. In 2017, Provocateur launched the Les Girls Les Boys line, which is versatile and convenient. "Everyone has a different view of what is sexy today, unlike what was before, and this is a change for the better!" - emphasizes brand founder Serena Reese.

What is fashionable today is a legacy of the collections of Japanese designers. For example, Rei Kawakubo. She came up with her brand Comme Des Garcons ("Like Boys") back in 1969, destroying all European canons then. Today, her ideas are at the peak of popularity. Kawakubo erased gender boundaries, showed freedom from beauty standards, introducing asymmetric deforming forms.

Comme des Garcons spring-summer 1991, Fashion show Comme des Garcons spring-summer 1995, Marie Claire Credit

In 2009, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Comme des Garcons, Cavacubo launched the Black Timeline, which lasted eighteen months. It included trousers, skirts, raincoats, jackets, jewelry, and other luxuries mainly of black color. Many fashion houses and even mass markets like H&M are now striving for collaborations with the famous Japanese woman.

Another example is Yohji Yamamoto with his struggle with stamps in fashion and the avant-garde spirit of oversize collections, his love of laconic silhouettes and layering in clothes, and the main message: a woman is a personality and individuality. And although this designer is a man, his main concept is to protect the female body from male eyes: "The more a woman hides her sexuality with clothes, the more sexuality appears in her eyes."

In the 90s, the ideas of feminism began to increasingly influence moods in society, with the release of a new book by Naomi Wulf "The Myth of Beauty" on the destruction of standard stereotypes about female beauty, the topic of feminism gained a huge scope, became widespread: women of all races, nationalities, and classes started to get involved in this movement.

During these years, Gilles Zander shot, the basis of her brand was the idea that a woman dresses primarily for herself, not for a man, at the forefront of her collections, Zander put neat trouser-pencil cases, straight coats, and white shirts. She was essentially the inspiration for Phoebe Fileau and Stella McCartney, who successfully continued her ideas. Phoebe File adopted the men's classics to the women's wardrobe. A comfortable simple cut beige coat, wide trousers and sneakers we can see everywhere today. Stella McCartney also excels in this direction, trying to find a balance between utilitarian male models and seductive female elements.

Today we see industry leaders such as Chanel, Dior, and Prada trying to engage in dialogue with a new generation of emancipated young women. According to Harvard Business Review, women are 70-80% more active in buying brands with a feminist agenda.

Karl Lagerfeld in 2014 brought to the catwalk a pregnant model in slippers, and in 2015 shocked everyone at the Chanel show, having held a feminist march led by the chanting Cara Delevingne and Caroline de Megre at the spring fashion show. Models defiled with the Be Your Stylist, Ladies First, Free Freedom, and Make Fashion Not War signs ("Be your stylist," "Lady First," "Free Freedom" and "Make Fashion, and not war "), the show was closed by a man holding the sign" He for She "(" He is for Her "). The show, as can be understood from the calls, was directed against gender inequality.

Chanel Spring-Summer 2015 Show

Fashion shows at Dior's house were also not without loud statements about feminism; in 2015, models in T-shirts with the inscription "We should all be feminists" appeared on the catwalk. These t-shirts made a splash. And in 2020, Dior, together with renowned feminist artist Judy Chicago and Claire Fontaine, created a show for the spring-summer collection, in which neon signs "Patriarchy = Climate Emergency" and "Women's Love Is Unpaid Labor" ("Patriarchate = Climate Extreme") "And" Women's Love - This is an unpaid work ").

Dior Fashion Show Fall-Winter 2020-21

Miuccia Prada, known for the struggle for women's rights through her grotesque collections, creates her clothes for women who want to experiment and be sensual. She dedicated the entire 2018 spring collection to feminism and femininity.

Prada fashion show spring-summer 2018

Fashion reflects socially significant trends, moods, and ideas. Today, the term self-realization is defining. Women succeed in traditionally male fields, run companies, including fashion, participate in conferences, diplomatic negotiations, and for the most part prefer their style to match their image - sophisticated, smart casual (sophisticated, elegant casual). The main trends today are convenience and comfort, men's fit, oversize, as well as a combination of incongruous.

Brands are adapting, and the world of fashion seems to shout: "Beauty is about uniqueness and zest, not about standard parameters." Diversity is one of the main features of feminism because now no one blames plus-size models, as well as those who want to remain hypersexual and follow the usual standards of beauty. The main slogan of the present time, fashion and feminism is the freedom of choice of women. Clothing is now a tool for expressing personality, not individual parts of the body. A woman can do what she wants, with whom she wants, and most importantly, what she wants.

About the expert:

Author: Daria Mudrova


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