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Feminism Isn’t a Fashion Statement

Image: IMAXtree

Image: IMAXtree

As I remember it, attitudes towards feminism used to be predominantly hostile, best characterized by the well-trodden phrase, "I'm not a feminist, but."

More recently, people have seemed to embrace the label. Which is mostly a good thing, but sometimes it seems like they're squeezing it to death. Today's posture is one of faddish over-identification: In pop culture and on the Internet, "feminism" is sometimes used as a calling card by anyone making a superficial claim about women. A friend of mine calls it 'hashtag feminism.'

On that note, although SHOWstudio's live panels present some of the most interesting and informative responses to the Fashion Week shows available online (if you're unfamiliar, the London-based fashion outlet streams conversations with critics, designers, stylists concurrently with the runway livestreams), I've been stunned by how readily panelists jump to consider the feminist bonafides of a fashion collection. To be fair, the commentators are often taking a cue from the designers themselves: The duo behind Meadham Kirchhoff count the riot grrrl movement as one of their biggest influences; Miuccia Prada considered herself a radical feminist long before she considered herself a designer, and her Spring 2014 collection was explicitly concerned with female empowerment. 

But fashion's relationship to feminism isn't an easy one. And so I feel like I've entered some bizarro universe when I read sentences like this one from's review of the Olympia Le-Tan Spring 2014 collection: "This sailor-themed collection couldn’t help but give you the feminist spins," wrote Maya Singer, as if most fashion collections wouldn't give you feminist spins. At its most fundamental level, the fashion show is in conflict with feminism: Hiring leggy teenagers to wear clothing intended for (wealthy) adults doesn't do anything to advance equal rights for women.

The Olympia Le-Tan review wasn't's only mindboggling reference to feminism this week. Earlier this week, the website ran a post asking, "Is Donatella Versace Fashion’s Sexiest Feminist?" The opening sentence reads, "Feminism is emerging as a strong Spring ’14 theme." The item was centered around some choice quotes from an interview with the Versace designer which ran in The Independent on Saturday.

Conducted by the British publication's fashion editor, Alex Fury, (who is, it's worth mentioning, a frequent guest on the SHOWstudio live panels), the interview was published under the headline, "Donatella Versace on sex and why she'd rather be a feminist than a muse." In the past, Donatella has openly discussed some of her feminist beliefs in the press (last year, her statement, "Feminism is dead in the world," was picked up by countless outlets) and she explicitly uses the term in conversation with Fury, telling him, "I think I'm a feminist."

Fury writes that Donatella's feminist convictions seem "odd given how diametrically opposed those clingfilm-tight Versace frocks seem to our notions of feminist fashion." And on, the blogger ends by wondering whether "a sheer V-neck gown cut down to here might tempt one’s company to focus on something other than her 'opinions.'” I wouldn't call Donatella Versace the world's best feminist role model or say that Versace designs would work well on feminist revolutionaries, but suggesting that clothes can make or break a feminist is missing the point. Designer and fashion brands can sometimes operate according to feminist principles (a recent New Yorker article made the case for Eileen Fisher as one such label), but feminism will never be a fashion statement. 

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Link Buzz: Step Dancers Perform on the Rick Owens Runway; J.W. Anderson Going to Loewe


  • One of the most unexpected responses to the growing demand for greater runway diversity, Rick Owens cast step dancers to perform at his runway show in Paris, wearing his Spring 2014 collection. The women he cast were more diverse in terms of race and size than we typically see at fashion shows, but the effect seemed more like a gimmick than an earnest response to industry racism. Most people who have expressed opinions do not see it that way. [Fashionologie]
  • Sandra Bullock has fused and become one with the red carpet, that's how much time she's been spending on it. [FabSugar]
  • A fall television guide for people who would rather see quality makeup artistry on the small screens. [BellaSugar]
  • How to deal with the what, the why and the ow of blisters. [SheFinds]
  • Irish designer and London fashion favorite J.W. Anderson has been named creative director of Spanish luxury brand Loewe, an LVMH property. [NYTimes]

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French Business Magazine Confirms Marc Jacobs’ Departure from Louis Vuitton; Names Nicolas Ghesquière as Likely Successor

Composite Image: IMAXtree &

Composite Image: IMAXtree &

Following rumors which first emerged in June, Reuters reports that Marc Jacobs may be likely to step down from Louis Vuitton when his contract expires next month. One unnamed source told the news agency that the designer's “contract may not be renewed," while a separate source says, "nothing has been decided yet."

Reuters notes that another publication, the French international business magazine Challenges, has already confirmed Jacobs' departure. 

A preview from the article in Challenges is available online:

Image: Screenshot

Image: Screenshot

The title, roughly translated, reads: "Marc Jacobs' departure from Vuitton is official."

And the text: "The artistic director of Louis Vuitton (LVMH), Marc Jacobs, will leave his position. The schedule will be finalized when Delphine Arnault, the general director of Louis Vuitton, finds a successor. The designer Nicolas Ghesquière is in the lead, though other candidates are still being considered."

Even if Jacobs leaves Louis Vuitton, where he's been installed as creative director since 1997, the designer will still be closely tied to the brand's holding company, LVMH. The luxury conglomerate holds a 96% stake in his eponymous brand and full control over Sephora, the exclusive distributor for Marc Jacobs' recently launched beauty line. When rumors about the designer's departure from Vuitton first emerged in June, WWD speculated that Jacobs would also try to negotiate independence for his proprietary brand so he could take it public. No new details about the American designer's future plans have emerged. 

On Tuesday, Louis Vuitton revealed that accessories designer Darren Spaziani was joining the house and spearheading a new line of ultra high-end leather goods. The announcement followed earlier reports that, following a period of aggressive expansion and booming growth, Louis Vuitton was seeing lagging sales in China, where demand has shifted to more understated brands like Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent. 

[Marc Jacobs’ Future at Louis Vuitton in Doubt — Reuters]


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Findings: Fashion-Forward Millennial Women Prefer Forever 21 Above All Other Brands

Image: Twitter/Forever21

Image: Twitter/Forever21

Forever 21 just released its Warner Bros. collaboration range, Bats & Cats (it's Batman- and Catwoman-themed), starring Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor. (The 21-year-old model & DJ & Duran Duran daughter also posed for the brand's primary fall campaign — pictured here.) 

The socialite is a fitting choice for the clothing, not least of all because today, a new survey released listed Forever 21 as the top fashion, beauty and retail brand favored by style-conscious millennial women. 

The Brand Affinity Index, nicknamed "The Love List" and conducted by Goldman Sachs in conjunction with Teen Vogue, compares brand preferences in a national "mass" sample of 19-29-year-old women to those of a narrower selection of respondents made up of the Condé Nast publication's readership. The survey separated participants into two sample groups to reflect both brands which enioy widespread appeal and others which, though maybe still under-the-radar in a broader sense, have high recognition among fashion-savvy influencers (the so-called "It girl reader panel"). 

Forever 21 tops the "Love List" ranked by 'It Girl' composite scores, trailed by Victoria's Secret, Sephora, H&M, Converse and Target

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Why is Lara Bingle Being Attacked for Posing Topless?

lara-bingle-oyster-1Lara Bingle is the anti Miranda Kerr. One uses her rooftop for yoga, the other for topless sunbathing. One lives on a strict diet of pulverised kale and goji berries, the other supplements kickboxing classes with Bubble O’ Bill ice creams.

But while she’s still most known for saying “bloody” in a Tourism Australia advertisement, Lara Bingle is far from just a bronzed Bondi mega-babe. 

Both Lara and Miranda have recently posed topless for magazine spreads. Last month, Miranda embodied porn star Cicciolina for V magazine, and now Lara has morphed into nine SFW personalities and one topless one for local Oyster. Miranda’s shoot was barely even picked up by local media (granted V is an American magazine, but it’s also a very widely read website) while Lara was given many subtle burns by outlets in Australia and New Zealand for exposing her breasts in what works out to be 10% of a pretty exquisite spread.

The Telegraph called the shoot ‘raunchy’ and ‘provocative’. New Zealand’s somewhat irrelevantly cites former federal tourism minister Fran Bailey’s opinion of the Lara as possessing "the looks and the body to be another Elle Macpherson. But not the brains." Both make lengthy mention of the topless shoot she did for GQ in 2012.

The shoot in question is actually really stunning. Shot by Byron Spencer and styled by Tiana Wallace, the brilliantly kitschy photos play on the cult of personality and feature Lara wearing many fantastic wigs. We’re especially impressed by her ability to pull off short brown curls, which, combined with a bedazzled Emma Mulholland bikini and fringed Romance Was Born skirt, make her look like a youthful Liz Taylor at a tropicana-themed pool party. Other photos feature pieces by Hermès, Josh Goot, vintage Versace and Antipodium.

"It was an amazing challenge to shoot her and really change the way models and personalities like her are represented elsewhere. We like to push the boundaries," publisher Monica Nakata told Fairfax Media. "It was an amazing challenge to shoot her and really change the way models and personalities like her are represented elsewhere. We like to push the boundaries."

See all the images at


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She’s Back: Former Top Model Snejana Onopka Returns to the Runway

Image: IMAXtree

Image: IMAXtree

After several seasons' absence, Snejana Onopka finally returned to the runway yesterday, to walk in Anthony Vaccarello's Spring 2014 Paris show.

In the forums, the response was split between those who, upon seeing Snejana's famous strut revived, achieved a state of inner tranquility ("So…I can die in peace now") and others who had a more euphoric experience ("Aaaah i seriously screamed when I saw her in the pictures !! couldn't be more happy, just hope this is not the only one she does"). When rumors of a potential Onopka runway appearance first emerged a couple days ago, one member speculated that tFS would crash (it didn't). 

Launching her career in 2005 as a Steven Meisel muse (the legendary photographer shot her for Dolce & Gabbana and Prada fall ad campaigns), Snejana first made her runway debut by closing the Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2006 show in New York. From then on, the Ukrainian model was one of fashion's principles, appearing on many prestigious fashion magazine covers (such as Paris and Japanese Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, i-D, Numero) and fronting high-end campaigns (Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Pierre Balmain) right up until November 2011, when she got married (to a wealthy Ukranian businessman) and dropped off the map. Her periodic appearances (well-documented in the Forums) and television interviews (primarily Ukranian outlets) suggested that she was enjoying a quieter life with her husband, their dog and massive diamonds. (Onopka did briefly reemerge on the scene last year, when she appeared in Tom Ford's Fall 2012 beauty campaign.)

Her runway walk yesterday at Paris Fashion Week wasn't entirely unanticipated: Women Management included Onopka on a list of models available by special request. (Onopka was also featured in the agency's Milan Spring 2013 package, but never finally cast for a show.)

We reached out to Snejana's agency for comment and to find out whether we might see her at another Paris show, but haven't heard back. 

Image: IMAXtree

Snejana backstage at Anthony Vaccarello / Image: IMAXtree

RelatedSnejana Onopka is Stunning in Tom Ford Beauty’s New Ad Campaign (Forum Buzz)

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