Taking Issue With Chanel

*I wrote this a while ago… it’s just taken me this long to post it.

Image via Vogue UK

My initial reaction to Cara Delevingne leading the protest down Boulevard Chanel last week was so enthusiastic that I both instagrammed it and made it my cover photo on Facebook. “Yes!” I thought, “It’s cool to care about stuff, ‘cause Karl Lagerfeld said so!” Then I left it, so I could begin to process what this meant for the future of fashion.

I only really started to think about what Lagerfeld’s intentions for the show were after reading Susie Lau’s insightful post about her thoughts of the show. That’s my problem – in the midst of excitement, I tend to forget to let things process before forming an opinion. I mean, I doubted that Karl truly cared about feminism, and with signs like “Boys Should Get Pregnant Too” and “Women’s Rights Are More Than Alright” I wondered if he even understood feminism, but more attention towards a positive cause is ultimately a good thing, right? Even if it was for the sake of a trend?

These were two especially good arguments from Susie’s social media followers that she mentioned in her blogpost:
MelissaKateColeman: “Feminism is a flat concept if we don’t use it to discuss current gender issues. In fact it distorts the conversation. This is not starting the conversation on feminism. It’s a conversation what a luxury fashion brand can and cannot do in good conscience. Just to be clear, if he’d really addressed issues I would have respected it regardless of his questionable past. Sadly, he was just paying lip service.”

PowItsKim: “Awareness isn’t really a valid argument? If there is no follow-up, there is such a great chance of doing more harm than good ultimately. So he brought up, well, bombarded us with feminism, what are we now to do with that information? Who is leading this dialogue? The same skinny white women who are privileged by the system of fashion?”

The latter was the reasoning that I used to back up my reasons for thinking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a giant load of bullcrap, so I’m not sure why the thought didn’t occur to me when I first saw the Chanel show. But now that I’ve given it some time and I’ve had time to form a fully-informed opinion, I’ve decided that although this season’s clothes were exquisite and Karl Lagerfeld is a great designer, it’s not okay to appropriate anyone’s culture or trivialize a serious issue (be it feminism or Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests) for the sake of social media and trends. What do the kids say nowadays? Do it for the Vine?

Well, Karl, don’t do it for the Vine.

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