In response to the public uproar, Burberry chief executive Marco Gobbetti issued an apology CNN for the look: “We deeply regret that one of the products that walked the runway in our Fall Winter 2019 collection caused so much distress (and mental distress).”
Fashion and politics: how far should artistic activism go?
The interplay of art and social responsibility has produced some of fashion’s most breathtaking moments. The recently deceased Vivienne Westwood for example, recognizing the potential of the catwalk as a site of political activism and rebellion, she has denounced everything there (from political inaction on climate change to human rights abuses) in her collections and their presentation on the catwalk.
But the problem is that some brands are now trying to outdo each other in their political activism. Instead, they increasingly resort to shock as a stylistic device – which unfortunately often backfires.
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Another fairly recent example of this is the one that appeared at the end of 2022 Balenciaga’s Holiday Campaignin the Children posed with teddy bears (or teddy bear-style bags) who appeared to be wearing BDSM fetish gear were dressed. As if that weren’t “difficult” enough, documents were also discovered in the staging of the backdrop that showed a judgment by the Supreme Court in a child pornography case. Coincidence or oversight? Hardly likely.
Here, too, a public scandal (on social media) followed, which, in addition to justified criticism, was also taken up and multiplied by conspiracy theorists. Balenciaga later released a statement via Instagram apologizing for the campaign and then taking legal action against the production company and set designer.
Kylie Jenner was not only criticized for the Givenchy chain at Fashion Week
But back to Kylie Jenner, who was already criticized for another outfit at Paris Haute Couture Week 2023: Her controversial dress by Schiaparelli, with a fake lion’s head, went viral on social media and caused a heated debate on the subject of animal welfare and the Glorification of “trophy hunting”. Many, including animal rights group PETA, hailed the dresses as a “statement against trophy hunting”, while others (including British activist and wife of former British Prime Minister Carrie Johnson) called them “horrible and horrible”. At this point it should be said that the animals shown, which were also seen several times on the runway, are not real, but very lifelike (artistic) imitations.
That’s why the public condemns supposedly political symbols like the Givenchy chain or the Burberry hoodie
In contrast to the two clear positions that emerged in the debate surrounding the Schiaparelli dress and show, there is only one clear position on Givenchy’s noose necklace. The noose (which looks like a gallows rope) is a symbol closely associated with suicide. And given that 700,000 people die by suicide every year and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds (according to the World Health Organization), it’s no surprise that many people strongly condemn the accessory.