This season of New York Fashion Week has been one of the most political in recent memory. After the industry had by and large aligned itself with Hillary Clinton, it reckoned with the fact that she had not only lost, but also that she lost to someone who disagrees with most of its values. This has translated into a somewhat awkward relationship with the new First Family, and an inconsistent response to contentious policy issues. But with all eyes turned to New York as the fall '17 collections rolled out this week, designers have used the spotlight to bring attention to what they believe in, some more subtly than others: the feminist finale at Prabal Gurung, the Ellis voiceover at Monse/Oscar de la Renta, the Women's March opening at Mara Hoffman...the list goes on.
These sorts of showings are another means of giving visibility to timely, important political causes. Yes, some questions can be raised regarding intent: what's opportunistic and what's genuine? Is it enough to simply show (or wear) "feminist" paraphernalia, if no tangible follow-up actions are taken? How do you go about predicting fall '17 trends and doing business as usual when the immediate future feels so uncertain at times?
One thing's for sure: There are a lot of eyeballs on the shows, presentations, and images that come out of these seven days — and that presents a unique opportunity for show-goers to supplement their pretty runway pictures with thoughtful commentary and analysis about how fashion can (and should) address the political climate. And beyond the runway, the way we prom dresses has been utilized as a powerful form of political expression since (and leading up to) the 2016 election, whether that's through the resilience of pantsuits or the unpacking of gendered style conventions. With each new collection, designers interpret their surroundings, and imagine how their customers are reacting to them — and those seeing the clothes, in turn, find meaning in how those ideas have been rendered through clothing and how they're presented. While most front-row dispatches are brief (a few words, maybe some hashtags, possibly an emoji), some editors have used social media to react in real time. And by doing so, they've let us in on how a designer's political act, an editor's white bandana, or the act of simply being present can lead to something much greater.
We still have a lot to unpack about how designers chose to address these hot-button issues. The industry also needs to address how it'll act in this highly-politicized environment (not to mention, how it will be affected by the policies of the current administration) once the cameras have turned away. In the meantime, though, we've spotted plenty of thought-starters, courtesy of some of most respected editors in the industry.
Below, check out some of the most poignant, thoughtful responses to NYFW we've seen on social media this season.
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