Long live the women

Fashion and society

“The human being is by nature a social animal” (“O ἄνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικoν ζῷον”) as Aristotle famously stated in the first book of his Politics. This statement from the 4th century B.C. it is one of the most lucid and immediate analyzes of man in history, it is timeless since it is inherent in the nature of man himself. In fact, human beings live and feed on comparison with others. This relational, political and social nature of his is fundamental and unique, in its original declination, of the human species. Through the other man is able to survive, to gain experience, to develop knowledge, and to determine his own identity and place in the world. But what does fashion have to do with it? Fashion is, in the same way as man, a purely social phenomenon. Through fashion we communicate, interpreting and conversing through non-verbal signs, symbols and icons that allow social groups to interact. If these signs of individual expression are then shared then individuals and social groups aggregate defining and maintaining their own social identity. Fashion is a message, we could say the first visual and symbolic message through which we experience the other. But what does the woman have to do with it? Fashion is a social, economic and cultural indicator, but it is also a socio-economic-cultural determinant and as such it can create identity but also diversity, emancipation but also discrimination. This is where the Woman comes into play, unfortunately she has always been the victim of a discrimination which from biological then became social, economic and cultural. This gender discrimination has also been expressed through fashion and it is through fashion that women have found the right language to communicate the need for their emancipation, for woman’s empowerment, and it is through fashion that women have found the way to his release.

Woman’s Empowerment

The link between Fashion and female emancipation is indeed a very close one, and perhaps without Fashion, Women would have had much more difficulty implementing that process of Woman’s Empowerment which paved the way for social changes which before the 1900s would have been simply labeled as unthinkable and impossible. The way of dressing and demonstrating has in fact become the most effective way to protest, to shake consciences, to educate awareness. In fact, for too long the clothes and the way of dressing have represented the prison itself of women. In an era that we can effectively consider modern, the 1600s-1700s-1800s, society required women to wear corsets, crinolines, lace and other frills, making it impossible for women to actively develop in society and relegating them to rank of mere object of visible admiration, as well as damaging and mortifying it both physically and psychologically. Only at the beginning of the twentieth century were women able to begin to make their voices heard more by claiming a role within society and their claim begins precisely with clothes, demonstrating the need for themselves to have clothes more suited to the times, more comfortable and more functional. In this long change of clothing and therefore of identity, women have been helped most of the time by other women. Stylists, models, artists, some iconic women each with their own story have contributed to literally changing the world through woman’s empowerment.

Iconic women for iconic garments

Initially there were few men who used fashion to free women, but Paul Poiret, born in Paris in 1879, should be remembered, the first modern stylist who contributed, albeit quite unconsciously, to female empowerment by deciding at the beginning of the 1900s to abolish the corset, which causes great suffering and physical damage even to the internal organs for women, replacing it with loose draped dresses, tunics, kimonos, Turkish trousers. The real revolution begins with the great Coco Chanel in the 1920s. Madamoiselle Coco was aware that the female revolution would start from Fashion. For a physically and mentally free woman always aware of her charm but eager for a role in society and independence, Coco first “stole” the trousers from the men’s wardrobe and then created the iconic Chanel jacket for all occasions, shortened skirts and also invented the shoulder bag that finally allowed you to have your hands free. In 1934 it was the turn of the Levi’s brand which decided to extend the use of jeans to women who worked in the countryside and on ranches who necessarily needed more functional clothing. In 1946 the French tailor Louis Réard then presented another great iconic garment of woman’s empowerment: the bikini. A global success thanks also to divas such as Brigitte Bardot, Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe who contributed to the incitement of the use of what before would have seemed a completely obscene item of clothing. In 1933 the great American tennis player Alice Marble was the first to wear a pair of above-the-knee shorts on the playing fields, thus paving the way for women’s shorts, the subsequent credit will go to the pin-ups of the forties and fifties who, with their tight shorts and shorter ones finally legitimized the use of shorts. Among the various iconic garments symbols of female empowerment, the miniskirt represents a fundamental moment. It was 1963 when British designer Mary Quant exhibited her first models in her “Bazaar” boutique in King’s Road. From that moment on, it was her own clients who asked her to sew ever shorter skirts to move more freely and, yes, also out of legitimate vanity and a desire for fascination. The miniskirt has become a very important symbol of the feminist struggle of the decades to come as it represented more than anything else freedom, independence and the ability and power of choice over one’s body and one’s will. A few years later Yves Saint Laurent decided that the time had come to take another big step by creating “Le Smoking” an elegant women’s suit in 1966: as Pierre Bergé said “Chanel gave women freedom, power”. Another big step forward in a world increasingly aware of the reduction of gender diversity was then made by Giorgio Armani who, towards the end of the seventies, invented his famous deconstructed jacket by abolishing padding and changing the shoulder pads and the position of the buttons: “I gave man the ease and softness of a woman and to woman the elegance and comfort of a man” he proudly stated. We cannot fail to keep in mind other fundamental women in this process such as Naomi Campbell, one of the most important fashion and beauty icons ever, who was the first black woman to pose for Vogue and Times, paving the way for no racism within the large Fashion. Finally, but there would be many others, we can thank Stella McCartney for having made a huge contribution to bringing to the center and raising awareness on the great emerging issues of respect for animals and that of sustainability within the global fashion industry. In short, Fashion is Woman, Woman is Fashion and woman empowerment necessarily passes through Woman. We at Michele Franzese Moda can only thank all these great Women and those to come and to use the words of Michele Franzese himself we can proudly say “Long live Women!”