As we enter into the month of October, fashion week season is wrapping up in a flurry of press lounge carnage and after parties of Gatsby proportions. Over the past month, we've seen emerging talent and established designers present their latest designs, continuing to offer cutting edge innovation in the use of textiles and illustration - from Erdem's ready-to-wear depiction of a rainforest to Alexander McQueen's fetish-meets-feminine visual juxtaposition, it was nothing short of a spectacle.
|Reporting from the frontline, Alexa Chung tweeted the protest live.|
Yesterday, the penultimate day to mark the end of the season, bloggers, editors, photographers and hardcore fashion fans alike waited with baited breath in anticipation of perhaps the most sought-after runway of all - Chanel spring/summer 2015. Following creative director Karl Lagerfeld's A/W 2014 portrayal of fashion in a logo-embellished supermarket, buzz for the brand had only continued to grow - with fans anxious to fill the theatrical catwalk-shaped gap left in their hearts as a result of Marc Jacobs resignation from Louis Vuitton.
The industry were thirsty for extravagance, and Lagerfeld delivered by the bucketload.
Enter "Boulevard Chanel" - the reconstruction of the iconic wide streets of Paris - with beautifully crafted pavements, precisely placed puddles, zebra crossings and, of course, elegant architecture capturing the romance of France - all within the confines of the Grand Palais. With models nonchalantly strolling down the runway, Chanel's offerings of tweed, check, wide-leg trousers and pops of colour were gorged upon by the audience on either side of the street. It was a visual triumph, with bold prints, bed head hair and tunics presenting some very enticing trends for the season ahead.
|Model Kendall Jenner snapped behind-the-scenes photos via her Instagram of the slogans.|
Never known for the word "subtle", it came as no surprise upon the finale that model of the moment, Cara Delivigne, equipped with speakerphone and army in tow, sounded the battle cry of "Come on!" leading the high end pedigree models, including Gisele Bundchen and Georgia May Jagger down the runway in a depiction of mock protest. Brandishing statement signs with predominantly feminist slogans such as "History is her story", "Free Freedom" as well as a nod to the UN Women's campaign "He For She", Lagerfeld's statement was crystal clear.
With photographers flooding onto the runway to snap the on-coming finale amongst the buzzing swarm of VIPs and Twitter trending like there was no tomorrow, it was a sure sea l that the SS2015 collection would be discussed, dissected and demolished by the press and media for the foreseeable future.
The collection itself was regarded as a success - with the return of silhouettes missed for many seasons and the re-emergence of tweed paying homage to founder, Coco, herself. Without a doubt, the show was aptly topical given the recent launch of the gender equality campaign fronted by UN ambassador and actress, Emma Watson and opinions were divided on the concept of the protest. Certainly, it was not the first emergence of designers making a political statement this season, with Vivienne Westwood voicing her opinions on the recent Scottish Independence referendum, not to mention Meadham Kirchoff's outlandish pro-feminist tampon trees and unsurprisingly the arguments about the SS15 show came in thick and fast across social media platforms.
Many felt that the statement made by Lagerfeld was further backing to the cause of gender equality, with fans across Twitter delivering proclamations of love for the brand - and praising Chanel on its social commentary of current times. However, with the female standard size zero model sauntering down the runway, many felt that this was not an accurate representation of diversity, but in fact was reflective of a stereotypical male ideal.
Youtube Vlogger, Sam Fazz tweeted, "Chanel's execution at PFW was a mess. The signs did nothing to promote gender equality/feminism. It didn't make sense." Sam, unalone in her thoughts, was backed by fans across social media noting the distinct lack of male models on the runway - with many feeling that one male model throughout the entire runway was also a poor representation of true gender equality.
With the statement "Ladies first" also making an appearance on one of the many placards, it is easy to see how this opinion could be formed - with the sign itself arguably promoting female superiority - or indeed "man-hating" - therefore contradicting and diminishing the intended message of the protest itself.
Sam tweeted her opinions further, "If Chanel really cared about women's rights, they would have had trans[gender] models and models of all sizes and heights."
With signs boasting the likes of "Boys should get pregnant too" it is understandable that many fans of the brand are feeling the issues at hand have been trivialized by the final. After all, when the suffragettes staged hunger strikes and were force fed by gastroscopy in aid of women's rights, it does seem completely surreal that Chanel would jump onto a marketing bandwagon and attempt to use feminism, a movement with its roots firmly founded on suffering, as a trend.
Was the message of the show well intended? Undoubtedly. Was it tasteless? Perhaps. Only Chanel's long-term future actions can truly reflect the brand's values. Here's hoping that Lagerfeld delivers on his moral compass and puts his money where his mouth is on gender equality.
What did you think of the Chanel SS2015? Do you feel like feminism is being exploited as a trend?
Live by the catwalk, die by the donut.