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Dear Karl Lagerfeld: My Rights are NOT an Accessory

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Karl Lagerfeld is no stranger to over-the-top runway shows, so it comes as no surprise that his latest Paris Fashion Week spectacle made a major statement. Or did it? Chanel, under Lagerfeld’s direction, staged a “feminist” protest on a recreated Parisian street, complete with picket signs and megaphones adorned with the iconic interlocking Cs. While this bold move at first appears to be evidence of progress in the fight for gender equality, it may well represent the exact opposite. Let’s look at this show a little more closely.

During the show’s finale, models held signs with phrases ranging from the utterly nonsensical--“Free Freedom” (huh?)—to the totally childish, like the demand that “Boys Should Get Pregnant Too.” The “Be Your Own Stylist” sign was downright ironic, given that (presumably) none of the women on the runway had gotten a say in how they looked, despite Lagerfeld’s confident claim that each one had been styled to reflect “their own personality.” (Check out his full post-show interview for more.) These empty slogans raise questions about the authenticity of Lagerfeld’s feminist goals. Was this a real political statement or a just a publicity ploy?

To implement social change, women's rights issues must be taken seriously. As of late, there has been evidence of progress in this regard, as important issues like sexual assault have become topics of major public discussion. Just weeks ago, Emma Watson proved that when celebrities use their fame to say things that matter, people listen. Should he have wished to make it so, Lagerfeld's catwalk could easily have been grounds for a real protest. Instead, he used the idea of feminism as an accessory, which served to trivialize the the entire movement.

Feminism is not a fad, nor is it a fashion statement. Women’s rights will be important long after these looks have gone out of style.  

 

What do you think? Was Lagerfeld’s show an authentic social statement?


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