Some may claim that fashion is irrelevant in times of political uncertainty, but others — from fashion media to designers, bloggers and editors — see fashion as a powerful tool to make their voices heard and their political opinions known. Never has that been more apparent than in New York this fashion week, where accessories, clothes, musical choices and more were used by the industry's elites to acknowledge and comment on today's political climate.
See the most blatant political statements made during fashion week here, and check back in for updates as the shows progress.
Models carried signs with slogans like "My Body, My Choice" and "Adam Lippes Stands With Planned Parenthood" in Washington Square Park, near where a Planned Parenthood solidarity rally took place on Saturday.
Siriano debuted a "People are People" tee while Depeche Mode's song of the same name played with lines like "I can't understand / What makes a man / Hate another man." The tees, which were designed by multidisciplinary artist Brad Walsh, were up for sale online by the end of the day, with all profits going to the ACLU.
Cushnie et Ochs
Cushnie et Ochs closed their show with the song "The Future is Female" by Madame Gandhi, a feminist manifesto of sorts that includes the lines "We have to value girls more than their looks / The biggest threat is a girl with a book."
Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour's show "Terraform Mars" drew from a Stephen Hawkins quote claiming that there's only a 1,000 years left on Earth as a habitable planet. In light of a president who has claimed in the past that climate change is a hoax (and therefore not worth fighting against), Taymour sees only one outcome. "We're going to Mars. That's the only option," she said after the show.
Creatures of Comfort
While Jade Lai's latest collection for Creatures of Comfort focused mostly on a luxe glamping-inspired aesthetic, a few T-shirts were emblazoned with slogans that showed she'd been thinking about what's going on in the news, too. One iteration read "We Are All Human Beings," while expressed a general mood of protest with the slogan "¡No!".
W Ate R
A preview of W Ate R clothing included an embroidered admonition to "keep out of politicians' reach."
Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood
The CFDA announced plans to partner with Planned Parenthood just prior to fashion week, hoping to use the spotlight on NYFW to raise awareness and funds. Notable figures like Anna Wintour have been spotted wearing "Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood" pins at shows, and models at Chloe Gosselin sported them during the brand's presentation.
Raf Simons' first official collection for Calvin Klein couldn't have been more hotly anticipated, and he went all-in on the Americana theme that showed his Belgian roots won't be an obstacle to being inspired by his new home. Still, the show closed with David Bowie's "This Is Not America," which includes the lines "Blossom fails to bloom this season... The little piece in me / Will die." Simons may be happy to reference American iconography, but that doesn't mean he's pretending everything's sunshine and roses here.
Business of Fashion launched its #TiedTogether initiative asking industry pros to wear white bandanas as a way to promote "inclusivity, diversity and unity." Gigi Hadid wore one throughout the Tommyland blowout in support.
Chromat has long been making political statements by casting the most diverse group of models at NYFW, and this season was no exception. But in case it wasn't clear enough what the brand does — and doesn't — stand for, the show closed with the song "F Trump," which is basically just a loop of the words "Fuck Donald Trump" over and over again.
Michelle Smith's latest collection for Milly was called "Fractured," and the coming-apart aesthetic was drawn from the designer's response to the political climate over the past six months. "The elections left me feeling defeated, especially as a woman," she wrote in the show notes. Still, she expressed hope that there might be "strength in addressing the fractures."
Jonathan Simkhai had "Feminist AF" T-shirts waiting on the seats for front-row attendees at his Fall 2017 show as take-home swag.
Backstage at LRS, drawn-on underwear from Hello Beautiful said it all.
Artist and filmmaker Ryan Trecartin provided the voice-over for the Telfar show soundtrack, which included a number of references to the environment and immigration. "All bodies are illegal," Trecartin declared at one point, adding later, "We are all people but we don't all get to be people."
Gurung has caught flack for being "too political" on social media in the past, but the finale of his fall 2017 show proved he's not cowed by those responses. The finale of his show featured a host of T-shirts bearing slogans like "Revolution has no borders," "I am an immigrant," "The future is female," "I am a Coretta" and "We will not be silenced." Gurung himself took his bow in a shirt declaring "This is what a feminist looks like."
American flag outfits that might have felt like "Make America Great Again"-style patriotism from another brand felt more like ironic commentary from design collective Vaquera. "Under Obama, it would have been really bizarre for us to make this dress and have a flag dragging on the floor, but I think now under Trump, the American flag's [connotation] is... different," said one of the designers after the show.
What exactly was Public School's "Make America New York" crop top (and hats) meant to communicate? We're not certain, but the fact that NYC is a diverse, immigrant-rich population that voted overwhelmingly blue might have something to do with it.
Hoffman's show opened with a manifesto on intersectional feminism delivered by the co-founders of the Women's March on Washington. "We affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and determination. We must create a society in which all women are free," they read. Later, Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" provided part of the soundtrack for the dance-based show.
Although Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's work at The Row is about as subdued as can be, they still worked in whispers of political awareness with words like "freedom," "unity" and "dignity" hand-embroidered subtly on pieces from their fall collection.
Alice & Olivia
The Alice & Olivia show included a shirt with the line "Be the change you wish to see in the world," a statement commonly mis-attributed to civil disobedience champion Gandhi. He may not have said it in actuality, but it's easy to see why the sentiment felt relevant to the designers today.
Zadig & Voltaire
This "Girls can do anything" shirt from Zadig & Voltaire might not have come across as being particularly political three or four years ago, but the ongoing national dialogue about women's rights made it feel pointed today.