Let Fashion be Fashion

claudia li
     Recently there has been a lot of buzz going around about the fashion industry and how it has changed over the years. Even more recently, there were articles circulating on the internet that claimed fashion week was distracting people from real social issues. NYFWM took place after our world has just experiences several violent tragedies. In response to these violent acts, there has been a rise in performance art and social stances being spoken about at fashion shows and presentations. So much so, that it doesn’t seem innovative and inspirational anymore, it just seems like there is nowhere we can go to get away from it. Not that it is an issue that needs to be ignored, but there has got to be somewhere you can go, whether it is only in your mind or a physical getaway, where you can escape from the evils of the world.
     I attended a show last season that almost pushed the boundaries too far between being a fashion show and a public service announcement. At the beginning of the show, before models came out, the designer chose to play a video. The subject of the video was police brutality against African Americans. I get it, and I agree that it is repulsive and needs to be stopped, but I don’t know how I felt about over half of the show being an extremely uncomfortable and upsetting display of what goes on in our country. Once the clothes came out it was amazing, and the music was perfect. Everything about it was great, but if you asked me now, I couldn’t tell you anything about the clothes. While I understand this could have been the point of the charade, as a clothing designer I don’t know that it is the correct objective. I know what a lot of people are thinking about me, and I can tell you, you’re wrong. If I had attended this show as an event that took place outside of New York Fashion Week, I’d say, “Wow! How bold, and enlightening, and sad. What a unique and brilliant way to raise awareness of this issue,” but as someone just headed to the next show on the list to snap some photos, I left confused and a little shocked. I understand that social change and fashion are directly related, but there has got to be a better way to display designers’ attitudes towards social issues. Through the garments, music, backdrops, lighting? Not through people dancing, speaking, or extremely violent videos.
      Don’t get me wrong, I am am a supporter #blacklivesmatter and #policelivesmatter and so on. I am also a big supporter of the arts of any kind. I love dance, music, and painting, but what ever happened to fashion being fashion? Maybe people don’t want to go to a show and think about how our country seems to be falling apart, or why people are acting so cruel to one another. Maybe it is a distraction, but maybe it is something we need. It is not shielding us, just giving us something to do and somewhere to go where we can feel at peace. As I stood watching all of the menswear shows this week, I stood among Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, Europeans, and more. We were all there for a common purpose. This ‘distraction’ brought us all together, even if only for a week. It gave us something to talk about aside from this country’s racial tension and the other turmoil in the world. We were all able to mingle and talk about one thing that we are all passionate about, fashion. I am in no way saying that I hate performance art, shocking and dramatic social stances, and out-of-the-box fashion shows, but there is something to be said for attending as how at New York Fashion Week, and it literally being a fashion show. Maybe I’m a fashion traditionalist? So be it. I urge everyone to find a place that you can go for a moment of excitement and happiness that takes your mind off of the troubles of the world around you,  mine just so happens to be New York Fashion Week.
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