When Meadham Kirchhoff sent models down the catwalk wearing ‘bloody’ tampons for earrings at the London fashion week recently, I didn’t think the latest shows could boggle my mind further. I mean, trust the fashion world to smash all acceptable concepts of what recycling entails and hang it from someone’s ear.
But then Moschino’s show at Milan happened and the mind boggling took on new dimensions. Not just because it set off my sexism radar, but because once my initial outrage settled down, I thought maybe I should turn the alert level down a tad.
With a catwalk dominated by long blonde wigs, shockingly pink clothes and a rather infamous Aqua song blaring in the background, Moschino’s theme was brazenly Barbie. That’s right ladybros: next spring and summer Moschino’s creative director Jeremy Scott thinks we should be aspiring to look like a little girl’s doll, and a hideously sexist one at that. The show featured “Princess Barbie”, “Businesswoman Barbie” and what appeared to be “Bondage Barbie” (I really, really hope that’s not a real doll). Roller-skating Barbie even made her way onto the catwalk (and probably had the most comfortable footwear in that room, frankly.) And to really hit home the theme, all of the show’s attendees were apparently treated to a Barbie doll of their own to take away.
For me, all of this encapsulated much of what is sexist about the fashion industry and society’s view of women, because of course the two have links. It’s the notion that women should be clothes horses with unrealistic body proportions in order to be admired, desired, not to mention infantilised. Their role is to be seen and not heard. Essentially, women are dolls to be dressed or undressed as their owner pleases, and Moschino has taken this to its logical conclusion by rendering its catwalk models as close to dolls as is physically possible without major surgery.
Furthermore, Scott’s comment on his Barbie idea to Style.com just hits home how out of touch his show is with feminism. “Like every girl and gay boy, I loved Barbie. It’s hard not to; she’s practically perfect. She’s a good big sister, she’s had every job in the world, worn every outfit.”
Right, Jeremy, so I need to be Barbie to be perfect, essentially? I’m not plastic or blonde and I don’t have lots of pastel accessories so that could be a problem. Also where was astronaut or computer engineer Barbie on your catwalk? Or would those roles not have allowed desirably feminine enough outfits?
Like I said, I was seeing red (or in this case pink). But before I started blurting my outrage to the social media world, I sat back and had a rethink.
Sure, Moschino’s show was terrible for the above reasons, but there were hundreds of shows at fashion week, and not all of their designers were sending models out who were dressed like the objects of Hugh Hefner’s darkest wet dreams. If you briefly put aside the continuing controversy of painfully thin models (and I definitely don’t think this is an issue to be brushed aside – Tom Ford’s show was a particularly alarming example) and just look at the clothes and their messages – there was a praiseworthy range of choice at the spring/summer 15 shows for a feminist fashion-lover. I take enormous heart from that.
There was androgynous office wear at Jil Sander, long, floaty dresses in a myriad of pastel hues at Missoni, and quirky prints and sculptural cuts at Fendi, to name just a few. And yes, there are women out there who would probably really love to wear some of the outfits modelled by the models who strutted down Moschino’s catwalk. In fact, I’d applaud anyone with the guts to walk around town in a long blue sequin dress and a big pink feather boa. But personally, I’d give it a miss. Moschino may not agree, but I think it’s time to grow up.