The European fashion world has shown a growing interest in social and political issues in recent years, and especially in a statement sort of fashion. Community involvement and fashion have not been so closely associated since the political 1960s and 1970s, when bras were burned, and unisex fashion was an ideal for progressive young people.
The European Autumn/Winter fashion season 2014/2015 has been pro-feminist. In the autumn 2014 Karl Lagerfeld mounted a controversial, luxurious social media-oriented version of a feminist protest march when he showed his latest collection. Supermodels strutted holding megaphones and placards with slogans such as “History is her story” and “Ladies First”. Even ELLE UK came out with its first feminism issue ever.
This is not the first time the fashion world has participated in political and activist protests. In 1984 Katharine Hamnett wore a T-shirt with the anti-nuclear message "58% do not want Pershing" at a meeting with Margaret Thatcher. Anti-fur demonstrations in the 1990s featured supermodels, who explained that they would rather walk naked than wear fur. Vivienne Westwood’s climate revolution is another example. The work of young feminist designers in Northern Europe has been inspired by anti-racist activism.
This paper discusses fashion’s latest social approach: feminist fashion and body ideals in a globalized world where women’s clothing and bodies are discussed as never before. How much naked skin can be shown, and why does women’s headgear such as hijabs provoke so much aggression in Europe today? Are the feminist actions of Lagerfeld and fashion magazines only superficial or they can ignite a spark in women who otherwise would not come in contact with feminism? Dress is always some sort of social statement.
As Virginia Woolf states in Orlando, “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us. Thus, there is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.” Perhaps Woolf was right and it is not we who wear clothes, but rather clothes that carry us.