Fashion and Power

What’s the link between ‘Fashion’, ‘Women’ and ‘Power’ ?

How has fashion shaped the changing nature of women in society?

We went to London’s Design Museum to see their latest exhibition titled: ‘Women, Fashion, Power’.

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I was curious to see how the exhibition would use fashion to reflect the evolving position of women in society.

It was amazing to see just how much women’s clothing has changed in a relatively short amount of time, demonstrating the fast paced nature of fashion, but contrasting with what seems an ever slow moving process of women becoming more widely comfortable in ‘powerful’ positions.

The suit is often talked about with ‘power dressing’, making it clear women and men alike can use dress at work for empowerment. When women became more prominent in the corporate world they wore a suit along with their male colleagues, though the fit wasn’t initially changed to match a women’s body. Did this make them obviously out of place in the corporate environment? Thankfully Chanel redefined the female friendly suit:

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Chanel Suit, 1920s

A dress of Livia Firth, Founder of EcoAge and Sustainable Fashion Icon, caught my attention. When asked ‘Does Fashion empower you?‘, Firth replied ‘Fashion IS Power’. ‘What does fashion need to do to help women?’ Carry the stories of women who make your clothes with you, on you.

The Suffragettes showed fashion being used as a platform for protest, which was recently a topic for debate by The Business Of Fashion (here).

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I left the exhibition wondering how fashion could continue to be used as a powerful tool. Just like fashion has helped empower women in society, fashion can empower us all to embrace the urgent changes climate change requires of us. I believe that yes, fashion could be used as a means for protest, but implementing anti climate change behaviours shouldn’t be something controversial, it has to become the norm.

Imagine if we produced an exhibition in 100 years time titled ‘Fashion through Climate Change’….How would fashion change as climate change affected society?

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