Ladies First: Feminism In Vogue

Karl Lagerfeld’s heavy-hitting army took to the runway in Paris yesterday morning with high fashion and a high mentality for the most anticipated show of Paris Fashion Week that didn’t disappoint. The vision for SS15? Making feminism fashionable. Lagerfeld dreamed up another over-the-top stage, this time recreating an entire Parisian neighborhood as the backdrop for a head-spinning display of girl power.

High profile models including Cara Delevingne, Gisele Bündchen and Kendall Jenner marched together in Chanel’s protest-themed Spring Fashion show, wielding signs that read messages like, “Feminism not masochism!” “History is her story!” and the ever so pertinent “He For She.” Miss Delevigne, often referred to as Queen Delevigne for her massive fan following and panache, led the faux rally with a one-of-a-kind Chanel megaphone.

Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” roared from the speakers during the grand finale, in which the “protestors” strutted down the runway. The women sported masculine based looks trending with vibrant pops of watercolor. Boxy pantsuits were made out of none other than the tweed fabric Chanel is most famous for. Other accessories – sleek briefcases, messenger bags and bright silk ties reflected the same mod professionalism.

Models, who were once treated as silent clothes hangers, are continually emerging as empowered women with a voice – they have just as much to contribute to the conversation. Activism has become sexy. Today’s ‘it’ girls are acclaimed for much more than their outward beauty and haute couture résumés. Many models are using their celebrity status as a vehicle for positive change.

Cara Delevingne is no stranger to this new platform. Boasting one of the most heavily followed Instagram accounts, her actions and media activity generate enormous buzz. Delevingne and the other famous faces that promoted feminism during this spectacle serve as important spokespeople for this newly invigorated movement. Following on the heels of Emma Watson’s motivating Feminism Speech at the United Nations, Chanel’s crusade was seamless, steadying the spotlight on an issue that deserves a spot on major airwaves.

Feminism is a polarizing word that, to this day, elicits a negative connotation. Feminists are often thought of as man hating, in your face advocates rather than natural supporters of women’s rights. Watson’s speech and Chanel’s display shows the industry’s impassioned pushback on this stubborn misconception, acting as the new wave.

Critics wonder if this movement is just Lagerfeld trying to shallowly ride the wave of civic engagement for show. Is this a weak, diluted pass at translating gender equality? Does feminism really need to be re-branded and given a facelift? The fact that feminism is in vogue certainly makes its reputation less antagonistic and more digestible. The fashion industry shoulders a great responsibility given the enormous attention it is given and its consequent impact on society and women globally. Gender equality and the feminist movement still have a wobbly climb ahead, but it is one that is getting steadier with each step.