The Sydney Morning Herald: Pig heads and angel wings - French designer stages #MeToo NYFW show
By Nicole Economos
In the time of Trump, we have become accustomed to New York Fashion Week taking on a certain political flavour, with pink Planned Parenthood buttons and protest t-shirts being sent down the runway.
This season's event occurs against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, raising awareness of sexual harassment and abuse in the creative industries and beyond. Women speaking out against key industry players (like Kate Upton's allegations against the co-founder of Guess last week) were the inspiration behind French designer Myriam Chalek’s headline-attracting show this year.
As the creative director of brands American Wardrobe and Minikia Ko, Chalek, 30, gathered a group of sexual misconduct and assault survivors to walk down the runway and share their stories.
Eight women walked in her designs and angel wings, before returning to the runway handcuffed to male models wearing pig heads for the finale (the pigs are a reference to a hashtag started by Sandra Muller, a French journalist, #BalanceTonPorc, which means “expose your pig”, and serves as the equivalent to the American #MeToo).
Some of the women provided only their first names when addressing the media and guests with their stories, many of which were kept private until the #MeToo movement bolstered them to go public.
“I want you to leave feeling impacted, this is not about pretty clothes… There are girls who are still victims who don’t have the inner strength to speak their reality," Chalek said when introducing and setting the tone for the show.
"I don't think this fashion show is going to change things overnight, but if it can be a step further then I guess I've done my part,” the designer elaborated in an interview with Reuters. “A woman who has been empowered is a woman who is unstoppable.
According to NYDaily, Guyana-born actress and model Melissa Davis said she hoped guests would leave not thinking about the designs, but rather focus was on the brave women that have spoken out against the abuse they have faced.
"When you leave tonight, you are going to remember women screaming for your support," she told the crowd.
Women who shared their stories included US woman Alicia Kozakiewicz who, in 2002, become one of the first kidnappings and sexual assaults of the Internet age. She was 13 years old. Actress Sabrina Piper told how she was date-raped by an on-and-off-again partner. The room remained quiet as the women spoke.
Chalek addressed the uneasiness felt by guests, "I like the silence that is in this room because it shows you felt their pain.”
”The Me Too movement is not about man-hating; it is not about fighting violence with violence,” said Kozakiewicz during her speech. “It is, however, empowering women and girls to live in a world free of fear so that they can be safe from sexual assault and sexual harassment.”
Some social media users and fashion commentators were quick to point out that Chalek is a somewhat controversial figure.
Since 2014 she has hosted an International Dwarf Fashion Show as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald