Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why I think Chanel's faux protest was tasteless

Girls "protesting" during Chanel's S/S '15 show in
Paris; image source:
Typically during Fashion Week I would break down the newest collections and put them in context for you, but not today. Because of the way fashion media "ate up" the faux Chanel protest which took place at the Grand Palais in Paris yesterday morning without a single after-thought about its impact, I have decided to raise my voice and express what I truly think of it.

The case is simple: France's biggest and most powerful fashion brand Chanel staged a mockery of a protest at the end of its Spring/Summer 2015 show, apparently without an ulterior motive. The house's main designer Karl Lagerfeld (known for his lack of interest in politics) sent Chanel-clad models down the runway carrying signs that read all kinds of things, from feminist messages like "History is her story" and "Ladies first" to non-sense such as "Boys should get pregnant too".

All of that in order to create a mood which will complement his 70s inspired collection and at the same time make fun of protesting which seems to be a very French thing to do. What he doesn't seem to realize, though, is that protesting is a very serious (and often the only) way of making a change and shouldn't be exploited for attention.

The first problem I have with the faux protest is that it is highly insensitive and confirms the world's stereotypes that fashion people are brainless creatures who live "in their own bubble" and take every-thing as a joke. While attendees dressed in five thousand dollar tweed-jackets were recording the fauxtest with their newest iPhones to then quickly share it on social media as "THE EVENT OF THE SEASON", the citizens of Hong Kong were protesting for their democracy and the Ukrainians were pulling down a massive statue of Lenin. Pretty much the same, right?

The second problem is the feminist angle. Always looking for a way to be in vogue, magazine editors instantly recognized the opportunity of a hot topic and tweeted videos of the protest while describing it as 'feminist'. Now, let's slow down a minute. We have a large corporation whose goal is to make money out of telling women they'll be beautiful if they wear Chanel and highly-paid models who are given money to stage a march while holding pointless signs that someone else has created. Feels a little counterproductive to turn these feminism activists into puppets for your show, doesn't it?
"Tweed is better than tweet" reads one of the signs at Chanel's faux protest for S/S '15; image source:
The question is, and bear in mind that Mr. Lagerfeld is a designer who likes to express sarcasm on his runways, this: When has the brand crossed the boundary called taste? Was it when it paid models to mock a protest while the rest of the world is protesting with a cause? Was it when it sent out signs that alluded to the feminist movement just to gather attention? And is the fashion media the key player that allowed this tasteless act to become mainstream? So many questions, and yet, so little answers.

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