Shane Cullen examines the relationship between fashion and statement-making in this politically charged climate.
CAPTIONED clothing is making a bold return to the catwalks with a new twist. This new flair doesn’t include the overdone #squadgoals t-shirts or “Gigi and Kendall” slogan sweaters offered by River Island. Instead, this is all about making a statement. Dior and Stella McCartney are just some of the big names leading the revolution, and fashion writers and fans are loving it.
Political statements within fashion have been openly expressed on the catwalks on areas including sexuality and equality. Back at his Autumn-Winter 2014 launch with Topshop, London-based designer Ashish Gupta wowed the audience with a rainbow sequined t-shirt unveiled with the caption “Love Will Win”, giving his nod of approval to gay marriage.
American designer Thom Browne took his own stand on marriage equality by staging a “wedding” with two of his male models in a response to protests. These designers have shown that you can in fact marry politics and fashion powerfully yet subtlety.
“Political and social change happen so frequently, why shouldn’t fashion reflect that?”
After the announcement of Dior’s first ever female creative designer Maria Grazia Chiuri last summer, anticipation built around what she would present on her first catwalk show. Chiuri did not fail to deliver, debuting a contrasting range of structured, tailored suits and flowing skirts. Paired with a midnight blue skirt and trainers, a simple white t-shirt captioned “We Should All Be Feminists” instantly caught attention, and became the most Instagrammed post of the show.
Chiuri’s t-shirts were inspired by the book of the same title by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who was also in attendance, and became a staple at the recent women’s marches, being worn by everyone from Natalie Portman to Rihanna. Beyoncé’s feminist anthem “Formation” provided the soundtrack to the show.
Stella McCartney is also taking a strong political stance on her runway shows, incorporating themes of female empowerment and anti-fur campaigning. McCartney debuted her slogan clothing for her Spring-Summer 2017 collection where captions included “Thanks Girls” and “No Fur and No Leather” featured on array of t-shirt style dresses.
In an interview after the catwalk show, McCartney revealed that the clothing range was a supporting “embrace” after the Brexit referendum last summer.
The fashion world is often perceived as superficial and gimmicky but the truth is far from that. Political and social change happen so frequently, why shouldn’t fashion reflect that? For McCartney, the political message is important. “There’s love all over it…. I think fashion can do that. We have that voice.”