While hurrying between shows at Sao Paulo fashion week last week, I nearly ran into Kecya Felix, a Brazilian stylist/designer, who was wearing what looked like a burqa (it’s actually a niqab and abaya) embellished with sequined interlocking Chanel “C”s and an iPad around her neck. A slide show played on the iPad–”Could Coco Chanel Create This Look?” one slide asked.
I approached Felix to ask what she was all about. She shook her head and pointed towards her boyfriend, American Ryan Donnelly, who was functioning as her voice for the ever growing throngs of showgoers who stopped, intrigued, to find out more about Felix and her provocative outfit.
“She’s doing a project about sexism in clothing and it’s going to involve visual art as well as a small collection of clothing,” Donnelly explained. “We went on a trip to the middle east where she bought this [abaya and niqab]–she didn’t create it. We bought it in Amman, Jordan.”
While Felix wouldn’t talk during her stunt at SPFW (she did the same thing at Fashion Rio) she sent over an email with her artist statement (written in the third person):
“The theme is called StoneWoman. It is about sexism in clothes. She researched several sources on the subject analyzing women’s expressions, mostly in the last century, such as writing fashion and arts. She researched books by writers like Simone de Beauvoir, best-selling author Jean Sasson and from the Iranian poet Farogh Farrukhzad…Kecya traveled to the Middle East looking for references on that issue out there…she found a fake Chanel Muslim garment…which she considers controversial for the women’s expression in present days. She then decided to have an experience wearing the Islamic pieces–the fake Chanel niqab and abaya to create art performance.”
So some questions: What do you make of Felix’s statement? Is a fake Chanel hijab degrading to women? (And did you know such a thing existed?) As Felix asks, “Could Coco Chanel Create This Look?” And what would Karl say?