Gender equality is an evasive goal for most industries and possibly shocking to some, fashion is no different. Men continue to dominate the high-level roles within the business despite the majority of consumers are female. Julie de Libran, artistic director of Sonia Rykiel emphasises that, “Women unfortunately are still seen as a minority.” This frustration regarding the misrepresentation of women within fashion came boiling over these past months with Hedi Slimane’s debut show for Celine after the decade long reign of Phoebe Philo.
Under Philo’s design, Céline represented much more than simply beautiful clothes you desperately wished you could afford. Céline represented independence, success, and strength of women. It was a brand designed by a woman, for women. Her minimalistic clothing encouraged women to dress exclusively for herself. Therefore, when news broke out that she would be leaving Céline people were devastated. Then, when the Slimane’s first runway collection for the ‘new Celine’ showed in October, it only got worse. Slimane- former creative director of Dior Homme (2000-2007), and creative director for Yves Saint Laurent (2012-2016)- stripped Céline of all that it represented by removing the accented ‘e’ and wiping the brand’s Instagram account of all its previous posts, representing the total disregard of Philo’s past work, and ultimately his disregard for what women want out of the brand. The designs that appeared on the runway in September were dominated by male inspired clothing, harsh tailoring, and miniskirts.
Possibly one of the only inspiring elements of Slimane’s show was the overwhelming reaction from the audience that they were not afraid to speak out. It has shown that it is so much more than simply Celine (sans é) that is upsetting. It symbolizes that, yet again, female voices are being overwhelmed by the power- hungry, misogynistic tone of men that envision women in miniskirts and high heels. Not to mention, the appointment of Hedi Slimane to Celine further distorts the ratio of men designing women’s fashion.
The fashion industry is often stereotyped as a female dominated business, and although there are many women that work in the industry, gender inequality still prevails. The shortage of females in high level leadership positions is inconsistent with the percentage of women entering the industry. With all the steps forward that the industry seems to take-such as Marco Morante’s All-Trans Runway show this past September- it is simply not enough. Gender equality is not a ‘new’ idea and continues to be a highly discussed topic in politics across the globe. However, the unfortunate truth is that government officials seem to be ‘all talk and no action.’
In support of fighting for the greater cause, the HeForShe movement strives to promote human rights and equality recognizing that it is not solely a women’s issue. “The men of HeForShe aren’t on the sidelines. They’re working with women and with each other to build businesses, raise families, and give back to their communities. HeForShe is an all-inclusive cause and fights for gender equality on a global scale. This upcoming week in St. Andrews is HeForShe week (5th-8th of November). The schedule of events for the week can be found on the @HeForSheStAndrews Facebook page. Participating in HeForShe week is a great way to show your commitment to the cause, both equality and with Mammacita margaritas.