Protest in Fashion

Faster than architecture or fine arts, reacts fashion to current zeitgeist and happenings. It is the mirror of our society. Currently – in the SS 2014 & AW 2014 collections – this is becoming very clear.

Since the ‘Arabic spring’, which started in december of 2010 with a revolution of Tunis people against the authorities, a new protest-culture established world-wide. Mass-protests were following in Egypt, Syria and Bahrain. Fast, European countries started to be a part of the new protest-cult, like Spain, Turkey and currently, the Ukraine.

With protest comes along an aesthetic. In the 60s, during the love & peace movement, which was against the Vietnam-war and nuclear power, people were wearing long hair, wildly-grown beards, flares, flowers on their heads and batik T-shirts. One wanted to distance him/her-self from the parental generation. The peace sign became the symbol of their protest.

Nowadays – as protest is in fashion again – the British designer Vivianne Westwood is presenting caps and T-shirts, with prints of the face of Bradley Manning, on her models. 

Manning became famous as a ‘whistle-blower’. He sent WikiLeaks the video ‘collateral murder’ in which the shooting of Iraqi civilians and journalists of the news-agency Reuter by an American combat helicopter, is documented. For fashion-designer Westwood, Manning is a hero. With her SS 2014 collection, she wanted to put his fate in the spot-light.

During Berlin fashion week, two designers – SOPOPULAR and MADS DINESEN – staged their fashion shows as a protest march. The models wore black boots with determined faces, flags in their hands and posters with hand-painted ‘X’ and ‘fight the fight’ slogans were chosen as the background for the fashion-show. 

At the SS 2014 shows during London Collections: Men, a reference to the ‘Arabic spring’ was clear at the hyped label KTZ.

A silhouette that was similar to a kaftan (traditional arabic robe) was presented while playing arabic sounds. The models – partly – were sent on the runway, facially covered.

Coverage had an important role at protests, that started peacefully and became radical at many places, therefore also in current collections of different fashion-designers. Next to KTZ, others were face-covering their models, like NASIR MAZHAR, WALI MOHAMMED BARRECH, BIBI CHEMNITZ, ASGER JUEL LARSEN and BORIS BIDJAN SABERI

CRAIG GREEN went one step further and connected the 60s love & peace movement (batik) and the aesthetic of the new protest-cult (coverage). Also at WOOD WOODs ‘Heroes’ collection, the world-wide protest was themed, even-though not in the form of coverage.

Portraits of rebellious heroes like 2Pac Shakur, Karen Blixen and Fausto Coppi were printed on shirts, T-shirts and sweaters. ‘We reflect the world, in which we live in’, said WOOD WOOD designer Karl-Oskar Olsen, shortly after his show, about the correlation of protest and protest-fashion.


1st picture: Vivianne Westwood SS 2014, 2nd picture: KTZ SS 2014, 3rd picture: Mads Dinesen AW 2014, 4th picture: Sopopular AW 2014, 5th picture: Bibi Chemnitz AW 2014, 6th picture: Bibi Chemnitz AW 2014, 7th picture: Boris Bidjan Saberi SS 2014, 8th picture: Craig Green SS 2014, 9th picture: Craig Green SS 2014, 10th picture: Wali Mohammed Barrech AW 2014, 11th picture: Nasir Mazhar SS 2014, 12th picture: Nasir Mazhar SS 2014, 13th picture: Nasir Mazhar SS 2014

Von: David Kurt Karl Roth

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