If these critics did talk…

 

The following is an imagined dialogue based on the articles written by or about the following writers and interviewees (listed). 

 

By Chava Kuchar

 

Sarah M. (Sarah Mower, Fashion Critic, Vogue)

No one sent out an agenda, but this season’s Paris Shows felt like a huge conference of voices speaking about how to represent women in the era of Time’s Up. 

Chav (Chava Kuchar)

How so?

Sarah M.

Like how fashion can act as a conduit for female power.

Chav

Give me an example

Sarah M

’80s power suits and shoulder pads are a throwback to a time when female employment equality and political power urgently demanded attention. Heaps of classics—tweeds, camel coats, tartans—being morphed into modernity by genius designers. 

 

Ness (Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director and Critic, The New York Times)

Yes, totally inspired! After four decades of believing long skirts represented women’s anti-liberation, acres of material that impeded progress, of choosing to get married in a short dress and wearing short dresses to the Met adeclaration of independence, I had acquired over the past six months not just one ankle-length skirt, but two dresses with handkerchief hems that likewise reach my feet. 

 

Nai (Naomi Fry, Copy Chief, T: The New York Style Magazine)

Some people are skeptical of the current vogue for conservative, covered-up fashions. 

 

Chav

What’s there to be skeptical about?

Nai

There are those who believe that only those blessed with money and good looks could get away with wearing a dress that evokes virginal drabness at best and cult-style patriarchal oppressionat worst… a dress which, with its sack-like silhouette, looks like a cross between a 1880s homesteading smock and the so-called bankruptcy barrel archetypically worn by old-timey hobos

 

Ami (Aminatou Sow, podcast host of Call your girlfriend, and co-founder of Tech LadyMafia

I don’t agree, if you let women dress for themselves, we’d all be wearing muumuus and caftans… anything that looks like a sack is my jam

Chav

:)

Ami

It’s part of my cultural heritage. I don’t need to show my shoulders, I don’t need to show my back. I know what I’m carrying underneath this thing. I really disagree with women who think walking around naked is liberation. I’m like, ‘Sorry, too many people get to enjoy this for it to be liberation,’

Take Mary Kate and Ashleigh Olsen...

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 Chav

OMG, Love them!!!

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Ami

It was really jarring, and men didn’t like it, But there was something disgusting and liberating about it. These were girls who didn’t care how anyone else was supposed to be dressing. It was the rejection of body politics.

Nai

I guess once we’ve seen it all — from Emily Ratajkowski’s fabulous breasts to Kim Kardashian’s monumental butt — it seems as if the most radical thing could only involve donning a baggy jumpsuit or a generously cut midi-skirt!?

GG (Ghizlan Guenez, CEO of Online market for high fashion modest wear, The Modist)

It’s a Macrotrend

Chav

??

Ness

A trend that goes beyond fashion

 

Iza (Iza Dezon, Trend forecaster, Peclers Paris)

The end of the naked look. The beginning of a new age of female pluri-empowerment… where women prioritize their needs as individuals over female role play.

Chav

Naked look?

Iza

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Phoebe (Phoebe Philo, Director & Designer of Celine)

Images of women are being intensely beautified, sexualized and shown like dolls over many years. It has had an impact on me, no doubt on all of us.

Lucie (Lucie Green, Director, J. Walter Thompson)

We live in an age of reality TV and transparency, where everything is out there

 

Ness

It started a couple years back, street bloggers in Brooklyn started capturing images of women layering clothes in the peak of summer. But now it has started reaching critical mass, thanks to a convergence of social, political and cultural factors…these things are being reflected in our clothes.

Lucie

These clothes reject the strictures of the male gaze…They are not about what men want anymore, but about what women want.

 

Irina (Irina Lakicevic, editor in chief, Mint Journal)

There is definitely a distinct difference between ready to wear designed by men and those collections designed by women

Ness

As women have found their voice politically, they have begun to express themselves sartorially; through white pantsuits, so-called pussy hats or the modest fashion movement. Clothes are an integral part of the debate over the freedom to make your own choices.

 

Halima (Halima Aden, first international high fashion hijabi model)

I’m the first high-fashion hijab-wearing model. Automatically, I know there are a lot of girls looking at me. I need to be a good role model, a good representative of my faith, a good ambassador to my community.

I really wanted to explore a new look, But I noticed that my younger followers were messaging me and saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t stuff I can wear. You’re the only person in fashion that I can look to, and you’re wearing stuff I can’t wear’. Then I was like: ‘OK, it’s true’.

I was still covered head to toe but I was trying out shorter dresses with knee-high boots. Those pictures got 60,000 likes but I wanted to stay true to my original followers. There are a million other models who can rock the same outfit but there’s not anyone besides me who can say, ‘I’m going to wear modest fashion’. I owe it to these little girls

 

Chav

But isn’t that the problem? Aren’t we worried that failure to truly express ourselves is the problem? A problem, that we are starting to see solved through dressing for ourselves instead of a hyper stylized canon or higher directive?

 

Pheobe L (Phoebe Luckhurst, The Evening Standard)

Being in the hyper-visual, overly exposed and exposing world of fashion invites scrutiny —I am sure Halima experiences it from within and outside of her community, these decisions aren’t being made easily or lightly.

 

Karla (Karla Welch, Stylist Extraordinare)

When my clients want less exposing gowns I see being covered up is “an answer to how men are dressed.” I belief that there is no reason for my clients to be confined to the old boxes of strapless and plunging mermaid gowns.

We’re political people, clothes are a form of armor.

 

D. Leah Lederman (Op ed, The Wall Street Journal)

I agree with Karla, our clothing serves as a form of “armor,” freeing us to be seen as thinking human beings rather than “sex objects” or “little women.”

 

Ness

This is why it is not simply a seasonal trend, but a shift in the definition of image and of identity.

 

Ms D (Claire Distenfeld, Fashion Boutique owner and Buyer)

If you are speaking a new language and hearing a new language, you will most likely start expressing that in some form, and for many self-expression takes form in personal style and fashion.

 

Charlie (Charlie Gowans- Eglinton, Senior Fashion Editor, The Telegraph)

So what are we saying, does sexiness still have a place in fashion? And can ‘sexy’ still be unshackling? Time’s Up, alongside the #MeToosocial media campaign, have they had a wider effect on women’s fashion?

 

Chav

I wouldn’t worry, this season there was sexy on the catwalks 

 

Charlie

But I guess even from the sexiest of brands there were some nods to the realities of women’s lives, albeit small ones. Chunky platform ankle boots at Saint Laurent and cowboy boots at Isabel Marant meant models marched rather than teetered, and strong 80s shoulders lent power to the skimpiest of dresses. Layered under micro-mini dresses made of holographic plastic, Balmain’s addition of opaque black tights read as a last minute concession to practicality and modernity.

 

Sarah M. 

Yes and don’t forget the overwhelming cultural influences from Islam in the form of head coverings and modestdressing

 

Charlie

Well, yes, that literal interpretation of modesty could be a cynical bid for middle-eastern shoppers - but it could also be Pierpaolo Piccioli et al’s slightly clumsy way of saying that you don’t have to get it all out to be sexy.

 

Alia (Alia Khan, Founder & Chairwoman,Islamic Fashion and Design Council)

Well that’s just smart business, according to Rueter’s The modest fashion industry is worth a whopping $322 billion industry globally

 

Kadija (Kadija Diawara, Model) 

But the fashion industry's appropriation of hijabs does nothing to support or celebrate Muslim women or their culture.

Chav

Isn’t copying the best form of flattery?

 

Kadija

My thoughts on designers appropriating, I'm just like, 'Bruh, Like, really? A white model is not going to wear this again. You make it a norm by using it on a mass population that actually uses it. Because that shows, 'Hey, we support you, we're here for you 

 

Maha (Maha Sayeda)

I don’t agree, it’s important to be included and for the needs of Muslim women to be recognized, especially as the fashion industry is becoming more representative and diverse, even though it wasn’t (and in some cases, still isn't) always this accepting.

And as modest fashion continues to grow and take its place in the industry, I hope it becomes the norm for the mainstream. Because it isn’t just a trend, it’s our way of dressing, a lifestyle, and a movement that makes us feel like we’re being represented properly and that we belong.

 

Liroy (Liroy Choufran)

Its more complicated than that, fashion designers, who once travelled to kingdoms far, far away (or, at least Googled kingdoms far, far away) to bring back treasures, need to now find a way to innovate without taking inspiration from others and to make do with their own cultural environments.

So, maybe it is time to give things a kick. Either we move away from fashion, at least as it has been formulated over the past 700 years, or we accept the unavoidable — and often problematic — reality of globalisation and its outcome; cultural appropriation. Either option will change the world, but we just can’t have it all. This is the paradox.

Chav

I think acceptance of said reality is unavoidable, nor do I see it as defeat, if we look to the past moving forward, we are learning, we are paying homage, we are recognizing where we came from and hopefully helping it to direct our future. Creating a new inclusive lexicon, because there wouldn’t be a cannon without those who don’t fit in it. Another discussion for another time; what about the ‘other’ and what becomes of their needs?

 

Alia

I don’t think that these things are mutually exclusive or paradoxical, it’s been going on all along. Like Maha said, the need for modest fashion has been here since the beginning of time and will remain until the end. 

And even though there has always been a huge demand for modest fashion; the industry has only taken off in the last five years and now we are seeing the mainstream fashion industry taking stock of the immense potential this industry has and it can benefit us all.

 

Georgie (George driver, Illustrator of Sikh ladies in sick fashion)

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 Chav

Awesome!!!!! 

Georgie

We shouldn't have to normalise diversity, because diversity is normal!

 

 

 

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References:

George Driver, Elle, March 22, 2018. 'Sikh ladies in sick fashion' is all your high end modest dressing Inspo in one zine

Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times, April 6, 2017Women, fashion
has you covered: the defining sartorial style of the 2010s has begun to emerge.

Naomi Fry, The New York Times style magazine,November 2, 2017Modest dressing, as a virtue

Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, senior fashion editor, The Telegraph, March 7, 2018. Modesty reigned on the world's catwalks this month

Nomia Iqbal & Sadaf Maruf, BBC news, March 9, 2018. Meet Shahira Yusuf, one of britain's first hijab-wearing models

Phoebe Luckhurst, The Evening Standard, April 9, 2018. Meet halima aden, the first hijab-wearing model to get a vogue cover

D. Leah Lederman, op ed letter, The Wall Street Journal.  Orthodox modesty gives a certain seriousness, power

Sarah Mower, Vogue, March 7, 2018. In the 'times up' era: the best collections from Paris fashion week

Hafeezah Nazim, Nylon online,  March 27, 2018. Model Kadija Diawara on the Plague of cultural appropriation in fashion

Maha Syeda, Allure, March 27, 2018. What the fashion industry's embrace of modest clothing means to me as a muslim woman

M. A. Zuburi, Business Recorder online, April 6th, 2018. ‘Modest fashion is a $322 billion industry’