Gender equity. Fashion’s role in female empowerment.

In Blog 0 comment

Fashion has always been a reflection of its time. It has also served women as a vehicle of expression for a not-so-silent revolution towards gender equity.

Female empowerment has not only been claimed in the halls of institutional power and at the ballot box. The egalitarian revolution began in our wardrobes. Women’s cultural, economic and personal achievements have been expressed by raising skirts and sleeves, sharpening silhouettes, and changing hairstyles. Rebellious and courageous women have always used fashion to reclaim a denied space: from garçonnette hair, boldly wearing pants or the arrival of the miniskirt.

The struggle for equality has come a long way since the Women’s March in the French Revolution to the present day. From the suffragettes and the flappers at the beginning of the 20th century, women began to adopt customs previously reserved for men: smoking, drinking, driving or wearing their hair short.

Coco Chanel stripped black of its previous association with mourning and made the little black dress the symbol of the liberated woman.

In 1931, Elsa Schiaparelli’s divided skirt—a forerunner of shorts—shocked the tennis world when worn at Wimbledon. We saw the draping deep necklines of Madeleine Vionnet and the colourful art deco prints of Sonia Delaunay while Varvara Stepanova, as part of the Russian Constructivism movement, brought utility to clothes for workers.

Most clearly signifying the shift of power was the adoption by women of the male costume. Actress Marlene Dietrich carefully crafted her public image, openly defying sexual norms. Following in the footsteps of Dietrich, designer Yves Saint Laurent turned the tuxedo into a powerful statement for the new woman.

Today, fashion remains charged with meaning to transform the world. Dior proclaims that ‘We should all be feminists’. And now the struggle for equity has embraced a broader scope of gender identification, including non-binary. Genderless fashion aims to eliminate the constraints that differentiate between the masculine and the feminine. This trend is here to stay and its influence can be seen in the creations of numerous fashion houses.

Spanish label Adolfo Dominguez has created a capsule collection with organic cotton garments defined as “genderless” – open and fluid for a society without bounds.

Once again, we see fashion as a response to changed and future thinking.