The Revolution Will Be Live

All images from Vogue.com

It's no secret that runway collections are oftentimes a reflection of the times. Say what you will about the frivolities of fashion, but designers are constantly gathering inspiration from the world around them, placing their ears to the ground and trying to capture the cultural zeitgeists. Designers are, after all, the trend dictators, and when they unveil a new collection, they're not only sharing what clothes to wear but how they're currently interpreting the world at large; the culture, the fads, the politics.


Over the Fall 2018 fashion week circuit, one overarching theme has become clear: revolution. I'm not surprised, given the times we're experiencing at this very moment. From Women's Marches to the Black Lives Matter movement to the very recent activism of high school students following the shooting in Florida, we live in truly revolutionary times. There is a spirit of rebellion in the air, a boiling point we're close to reaching, and the clothes from the most recent collections embody this uncertain but revolutionary moment. 

A few of my favorite looks from the Dior Fall 2018 show

Throughout the month I've been seeing hints of youth culture and political activism, but it was the Dior show that really did it in. The thesis of Maria Grazia Chiuri's latest collection was the Paris student protests of 1968 (this May will be the 50th anniversary), with models donning patchwork skirts, peace sign motifs, and crochet knits. Dressed as modern-day interpretations of those protesting students, the models walked in a room plastered floor-to-ceiling with protest signs, magazine cut-outs, and other graphic prints, the whole spectacle screaming "Revolution!" 

It's a bit uncanny, because how could Chiuri know—designing this collection months ago—that the same time her newest collection debuted in Paris, America would be experiencing its own student revolution. Fed up with inactive politicians and catalyzed by tragedy, we are at this very moment witnessing the power and strength of teenagers. There's no way that Chiuri could have predicted this, but this Dior show serves as in incredible way to link the activism of the past to today's youth in revolt.

Elsewhere, there were plenty of signs of youth culture and culture clashes, like Christopher Bailey's flamboyant finale at Burberry, where LGBTQ+ imagery and grunge style blended for a celebration of the brand's heritage and future. Dolce & Gabbana continues to celebrate the millennial spirit with their embellished confectionery creations. Versace and Saint Laurent harkened back to the gender-bending androgyny of the 80s.

Everywhere you look, there are sartorial references to the defining fashions of counterculture movements and instances of the younger generation rebelling against the older one. What better to wear in today's divisive political climate than 60s-inspired Dior?

Poster details from the Dior Fall 2018 show

Of course, it's a fine line between inspiring activism through clothing and just playing "woke" dress up. I had this same thought upon seeing some of the most recent Dior shows, where models proudly wore shirts proclaiming "We Should All Be Feminists" and again when Chiuri used Linda Nochlin's essay "Why Have There Been no Great Women Artists?" as the basis for her designs. (BTW, I've had to read that essay at least a dozen times for different art history courses, so I very much appreciated the reference).

Duhhh, we should all be feminists! But there's more to activism than wearing a T-shirt, and one would hope that the models and influencers who wore that shirt (which, by the way, cost a few hundred dollars) also showed up for the Women's March and have spoken up in support of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The same way we all detest seeing cultural garb used as costume in runway shows and beyond, I'd hate for designers to use a faux woke-ness to capitalize on young liberal minds without, you know, doing the actual work.

All this to say: fashion is more than just clothes, and these collections show just how intertwined style and politics and culture are all intertwined.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts, though, so feel free to comment with your interpretations!

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I love hearing your thoughts! Thanks for reading! ♥︎Lindsey