There were a lot of fantastic moments during the New York, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks as Spring/Summer collections took to the runway - Barbie became the muse of Moschino, a man modeling women's fashion brought defying gender norms to a new level at Misha Nonoo, and of course, there was some fantastic fashion. But if there is one thing that you should take away from Fashion Week this season, it was what happened on the runway at Chanel this past week in Paris. Chanel shows during Fashion Week have always been a spectacle to behold. Who can forget how the catwalk was turned into a supermarket for the Fall/Winter 2014/15 show? This time around, the Grand Palais was designed to look like a Parisian street - Boulevard Chanel. The designs were vibrant, and the collection has been deemed street-ready wear, accessible to all fashionistas. Vogue claimed the new It Bag to be a festival-lovers dream. But the most talked about, and perhaps most controversial, moment of the show was its finale.
Cara Delevigne, armed with a megaphone, led a feminist protest down the boulevard runway, followed by the likes of Gisele Bündchen, Georgia May Jagger, Kendall Jenner, and Joan Smalls. Many models carried picket signs, displaying slogans such as "Women's Rights Are More Than Alright," "History is Her Story," "Feminism not Masochism," and so on. "He For She" was also painted on one of the signs, following the wake of Emma Watson's speech to the United Nations on feminism that had also gone viral only a few days before.
Watson's speech kicked off the "He for She" campaign, which aims to galvanize one billion men and boys as advocates for ending the inequalities that women and girls face globally. Watson spoke of how the term 'feminist' has held a negative connotation, because it has all too often been misinterpreted. Feminism has, in the past, been seen as synonymous with "man-hating." Watson looked to clear up this misinterpretation and clarified that feminism, by definition, is "...the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes."
Not only has Watson's speech gone viral, but the He for She campaign has rapidly picked up support from men all over. So are we to believe that Karl Lagerfield may be the latest enthusiast?
Though some have critiqued that the faux-protest that swamped Boulevard Chanel was a bit over the top ("Men Should Get Pregnant Too" signs, anyone?), and that even Lagerfield has been quoted acknowledging that everything he says is a joke, many more are excited to see feminism at least make an appearance. Despite anything he's said in the past, Mr. Lagerfield recently told Elle Magazine: "I am very much into that [feminism], and my mother was also a great admirer of a certain feminist of the 19th century." And Coco Chanel was, of course, one of fashion's original feminists, changing the norms of early twentieth century style for women.
It will be interesting to see how the fashion industry responds to the call for feminism. In response to Chanel's show, Elle Magazine has already announced that their December issue will be dedicated to feminism, claiming "We're with you, Karl." But for now, to see not only one of the most celebrated brands in the fashion industry, but also a male-fronted brand, support gender equality is definitely a step in the right direction.