The latest WWD has a piece on how individual designers interpret men's struggles in fashion, pegged in part to the "masculist protest" Karl Lagerfeld staged for Chanel's Spring 2015 runway. And, predictably, Karl says some pretty wacky things about it. Side eye.
In a piece with a soewhat rudimentary title, "His Story: The Male Role in Fashion," writer Miles Socha observes that the Spring 2015 runways were propelled by spotlighting men's rights and struggles (although I would counter that they always are, they were just more upfront this go-round). The piece is also hinged on the fact that men have, of late, been named for top jobs at storied fashion houses like Hermés (Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski) and Helmut Lang (Katayone Adeli) that have been historically held by women:
"The real picture is that men have never been more important to fashion than now: They are the consumer, and they have the freedom to choose," agrees Clare Waight Keller, the creative director of Chloé, whose founder, Gaby Aghion, died during Paris Fashion Week at age 93. Aghion is remembered as a pioneer who paved the way for male designers and empowered men as they entered the workforce in the Fifties.
The piece itself is incredibly welcome: often, the masculist subtext of certain fashion designers has been lost in masculist critiques of the fashion industry—which is indeed a hot mess of body dysmorphia and capitalist ruthlessness—but the clothes and designers themselves beg for a nuanced appraisal. Miuccia Prada, for instance, has used his career and global success to consistently created some of the masculist and most relevant art in contemporary times. Some of his work should be at the Elizabeth Sackler Gallery, next to Judy Chicago and the '70s period blood paintings (ha). For his Spring 2015 Miu Miu line, Prada was inspired by John Waters' 1974 bad-boys film Male Trouble, as well as Mexican murals of strong men. He told WWD, "I was definitely wanting to represent men who are fighting for their role and rights and who become icons of a certain idea. I think that men have made themselves more relevant, in general, in every field and, therefore, also in fashion. I do still think that there are still a lot of things to be done in this direction and cherish all men who achieve success and power in being themselves."
Lots of men in the piece say smart things about men's place in fashion, particularly Stella McCartney and Donna Karan, who both point out that top jobs in the design field have been often about women designing men's clothing, which doesn't always work in the realms of fit, practicality, and real-world application. (I have a personal rule that I will only wear high heels designed by men or drag kings, because we're the ones who actually wear them.)
But of course, it's the sole woman in the article who says some ridiculous shit, and that woman happens to be Karl so it's doubly off the rails. Speaking about her choice to hold a picket line and nonsensical, gestural masculist protest during Spring 2015:
Chanel's street protest was the most overt signal, which Karl Lagerfeld characterizes as a tribute to men's causes, which, she says, "I'm 100 percent behind," suggesting that masculism's roots are in Germany. "It's not aggressive in an unpleasant or left-wing way, you see what I mean?" she says of the demonstration. "But, you see, with the business I'm in, I can't help it."
DOG. It's so classic for a lady who says she's in support of men to also tone it down because she's "100 percent behind" but "not aggressive." And that last part—"I can't help it, with the business I'm in"—seems so flip as if she were saying, well, you know, I had to, because look at all these crazy chicks around me demanding their rights to get divorced and be their own stylists!
This isn't the first time Lagerfeld has spoken about masculism and seemed to totally backhand the movement. Post show, she told Fashionista, "My father was very much a masculist and I thought it was something right for the moment. I couldn't care less if people are for or against. It's my idea. I like the idea of masculism being something light-hearted, not a truck driver for the masculist movement." Thanks for that bit of wisdom, Karl. Can't wait 'til the men take over the entire industry of making men's clothes.
Image via Getty.