New York Fashion Week ended late last week (surprise — NYFW is actually longer than a week), and if you’re not in the fashion industry, you may have missed some very cool news in the midst of headlines about Taylor Swift sitting front row post-Hiddleswift breakup or models passing out at Yeezy Season 3. However, there were several things that happened at New York Fashion Week that got us pretty excited — about feminism.
Whether taking strides towards body positivity or taking a stand against Trump, quite a few shows, designers, models and, yes, even clothing, got us talking. Here are 9 takeaways from NYFW you should care about — even if you don’t care if florals are in or out for spring.
1. More plus size models walked the runways and more designers made plus size clothes.
Although there is certainly a long, long way to go, we were excited to see some strides towards a wider acceptance of body positivity and plus size women. The list is long, but here are a few body-positive victories.
Christian Siriano included several plus size models in his runway show — and also launched a plus-size only collaboration with Lane Bryant
Plus-size superstars Ashley Graham and Nadia Aboulhosn designed and showed plus-size collections for Addition Elle
Ashley Nell Tipton showed her plus size collection for JCPenney
Designers including Chromat, Tome, VFiles, Byron Lars, Tracy Reese, and Rachel Antonoff featured both straight size and plus size models.
Though not an official part of NYFW, SmartGlamour’s runway show featured a diverse group of models of all sizes and abilities.
Byron Lars Beauty Mark expanded their line from size 0-12 to size 0-22, and Tracy Reese expanded their line from 0-12 to 0-18. Let’s hope more designers follow suit!
Orange Is The New Black star Dascha Polanco decided to make her appearances at NYFW an ode to her thighs: “[My stylist] Darius Baptist thought that I should wear a bodysuit and just show my thighs, since I’m so self-conscious about them. “But fuck it, this is me, this is who I am, this is real. I was made this way,” she told Vanity Fair.
2. There were more models of color than ever before.
Shortly before fashion week, the CFDA sent out specific diversity guidelines, which explicitly told designers to “be inclusive of racial diversity when preparing casting of models for their company needs.” And, the numbers are in: This season was NYFW’s most diverse in runway history, with 31.9% models of color and 68.1% white models, according to the Fashion Spot’s tally. This change is thanks in large part to the Diversity Coalition — made up of Naomi Campbell, Iman, and Bethann Hardison — as well as other models and activists. The Brandon Maxwell, Kanye West, Zac Posen, Sophie Theallet, and Chromat shows all had at least 50% of their models as people of color. Of course, there is still room to improve: Quite a few designers, including Monse, APC, and Yigal Azrouel, had just one token model of color.
3. Models are getting older.
Finally, models are getting older! Thanks to guidelines and increased pressure on designers not to hire underage models (though quite a few do anyway), many designers hired models who could actually legally drink! Last season, Fashionista.com indicated that we may be at the start of a “teen model backlash,” and this NYFW, several designers celebrated women over 40 like never before: 64-year-old model Jacalyn O’Shaughnessy walked the runway at Tome. Eckhaus Latta, Hood by Air, J. Crew, Rachel Comey and Tracy Reese all featured models in their 40s, 50s or 60s.
4. Anneisa Hasibaun showed the first-ever hijab collection at NYFW.
Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibaun, who is Muslim, sent her models down the runway in full hijab — a first-ever for NYFW. Her colorful and intricately embroidered collection was inspired by her hometown of Jakarta.
5. There were two big racist incidents — but they were immediately called out.
There were two big moments of racism on the runway: Marc Jacobs models wore faux dreadlocks designed by a white woman, and Patricia Field sent out a dress covered with cartoons that depicted racist caricatures. Both were immediately called out by industry insiders and activists.
6. Chromat, DapperQ and Thinx celebrated trans, nonbinary and genderqueer people.
Several brands featured trans, genderqueer or nonbinary models: Carmen Carrera, Leyna Bloom and Maya Mones walked the runway at Chromat; dapperQ held a Queer Fashion Show at the Brooklyn Museum celebrating all queer gender expressions; and period underwear brand Thinx featured a trans man model and performer, Sawyer DeVuyst.
7. Reshma Qureshi and FTL Moda raised awareness about acid attacks.
Reshma Qureshi, a 19-year-old acid attack survivor and activist, walked the runway at FTL Moda. “People have a tendency to look at acid attack survivors from one perspective,” she said. “I don’t want them to look at them like that anymore.”
8. Opening Ceremony, R13, and Pyer Moss had a message about the 2016 election.
Several brands shared a political message about the 2016 election. Opening Ceremony held a political pageant hosted by Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen and featuring celebrities including Aidy Bryant, Ali Wong, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Williams, and Rashida Jones speaking up about political issues, often in humorous ways ("If you don't vote, you can't bitch," said Whoopi Goldberg). R13 sent out a dress that had the words “Fuck Trump” all over it. And Pyer Moss’ “Bernie vs. Bernie” show (Sanders vs. Madoff, that is), opened with Cyrus Aaron sharing a message about gentrification and featured Black Lives matter activist DeRay Mckesson. And that’s not even mentioning the Hillary Clinton fundraiser fashion show held just before NYFW officially began.
9. Prabal Gurung embraced feminism.
Prabal Gurung’s show was inspired by feminist heroes — which were most apparent in a “Gloria Boot” inspired by Gloria Steinem, a jacket embroidered with a Rupi Kaur poem, “"Our backs tell the story no books have the spine to carry” and a shirt featuring an Emily Dickinson quote, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” The brand also released a video featuring Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” on Instagram. We just hope Kaur is getting some royalties!
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