You can thank Karl Lagerfeld for reminding us that fashion is ridiculous

On September 30, Karl Lagerfeld sent his models down the catwalk holding what we are to interpret as “feminist” “protest signs.” Too stupid to understand what feminism is and also what words mean, this is what he came up with:

 

 

OMG stoppppppp. Please. Make it stop.

These signs read like something a ten year old came up with. Though, if a ten year old had come up with these slogans I’d be far more stoked…

“Be different!” “Free freedom!” “Fashion not war!” “Be your own stylist!”

The lone “He for She” placard held by a man at the back, we are to believe, is a nod to the UN campaign recently promoted by Emma Watson, therefore legitimizing Lagerfeld’s attempt at faking politics.

Not buying it.

I bet you money Lagerfeld will try to brush this off as a joke (HA! Feminist protest is such a hoot!) or as a publicity stunt because that’s what dumbass celebrities seem to do when called out on their weak/misguided attempts to be “political” — Globe and Mail columnist, Jeanne Beker, sure did! This morning on CBC’s The Current, Anna Maria Tremonti spoke with the creator and long-time host of Fashion Television, who gave Lagerfeld far more credit than he deserves, saying: “I don’t think he is using [feminism] to sell his clothes. You have to understand that Karl, like many designers of our time, are involved with the zeitgeist…and what’s on people’s minds… and young people and what they’re thinking.”

HA HA HA.

Ha.

I don’t think Karl Lagerfeld has any idea what’s on his mind, never mind the minds of the general public.

Beker then claims that this “statement” stems from the fact that “people are waking up, once again… to notions of feminism and female empowerment.”

Well yeah. Seems like maybe they are. But the fashion industry isn’t. Lagerfeld sure isn’t. He clearly caught wind of “feminism” via Beyonce or Emma Watson and decided to try to glom on to the movement to end patriarchy and violence against women, in order to — YEP SORRY JEANNE — sell clothes! I mean, that is what the fashion industry does, after all… That and ensure that women and girls have plenty of unattainable and unhealthy standards to live up to, physically, teaching them to forever hate their bodies and bank accounts…

Tremonti brings up the fact that Lagerfeld called Adele “fat” a couple of years ago, to which Beker responds: “You do have to understand that Karl loves to stir it up,” Beker laughs. “He’s just that kind of impish guy who will say things that are often, yes, very inappropriate… he doesn’t really think sometimes before he talks… People really want to get their backs up about something like this…”

Ugh. And the award for least original comment of the year goes to…

Like, really? “He’s just joking” “Oh, people just like to get riled up” is your response to a man who is very clearly an entitled, superficial person who doesn’t give a rats ass about women’s self-worth or self-esteem?

Not only was Lagerfeld’s sad attempt to jump onto the Hot! New! Trend! that is FEMINISM! completely embarrassing in its ignorance, but it most definitely has not “stirred up controversy” or “[woken] people up a little bit,” (as Beker seems to believe was perhaps the intent) so much as it has made clear that feminism is not meant to be a pop culture meme.

Some fashion folks seemed to buy into his stunt, fashion blogger and editor of cosmopolitan.com, Amy Odell, tweeting: “Awesome feminist statement at Chanel — for once do not care a flip about the shoes because THIS IS EVERYTHING.”

I’m sorry, but what feminist statement?? Where is it?

I’m not against fashion as, like, a thing. I’m not saying, even, that fashion isn’t capable of being political — of course it can be. But this is just silliness.

All this stunt has accomplished, in my eyes, is to reconvince me that the fashion industry is populated by vapid, superficial, apolitical idiots.

Get off our bandwagon, Lagerfeld.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Meh

    This is so fucking hilarious. How embarrassing…

    He should shut the fuck up. Comparing feminism to wearing tweed… This is the same guy who said he only sleeps with “high-class escorts” because mixing love with sex is, like, so passe. Dork.

    • jo

      I don’t think it’s right to call him a dork, Meh.

      I think “wanker” would be even better 😉

  • Those women embarrass us. Were they forced to be that idiotic??

    • andeväsen

      It manages to be more idiotic than usual catwalk performances. It’s as if sweatshop workers were asked by their employers to carry placards saying “Be your own union canteen napkin” while working. It shows his politics are in a worse shape than assumed.

  • My views may seem too extreme for the current era in which feminist and leftist politics have been watered down, but I am against fashion. The only clothing that would consider political (in a positive, progressive sense) is a T-shirt with the words “Fuck Abbott” (non-Australian can insert the name of their own right-wing politicians in place of Abbott) on it or a symbol which has a clear, well established political meaning (such as a hammer and sickle). An item of clothing would have to be that blatant for me to considered it leftist.

    But I don’t think such clothing counts as fashion. Fashion is when you use clothing to make yourself look prettier or cooler or edgier or richer or more unique. Ironically, using clothing in such a way generates massive amounts of profit for corporations and contributes to environmental destruction (as does all other unnecessary consumption) so people who buy into the idea that fashion can be a form of rebellion are actually reinforcing corporate domination.

    Using clothing for practical or clearly political purposes does not count as fashion and in my view these are the only ways in which clothing should be used. It should be used to meet real human needs, like the need to stay warm or dry or free from cuts, bruises and burns, not superficial “needs” like the desire to look pretty or be popular or get attention or have the appearance of being rebellious. I do not want to give the impression that women who use clothing in such a way are shallow or stupid. The desire to fit in and have a body that one can think of as “pretty” or “sexy” can be pretty strong, but I think we can create a world where women do not get excluded from friendships groups if they don’t look pretty and do not base their sense of self worth on how pretty they are.

    Too many people, even leftists, assume by default that a particular consumer item (e.g. fashionable clothing) should exist and then ask people to come up with arguments against it. I think that in light of the fact that the planet has limited resources we need to be thinking the opposite way. We need to start with the assumption that a certain consumer item should not be produced and then come up with arguments as to why it should be. In other words we need to have justifications for production (given that production uses up resources and that’s a negative.)

    It will be very easy to justify the production of food, water and shelter. We could also justify the production of books, films, television show and other art forms by pointing to their role in entertaining people, bring to light important political questions and enabling moral development. But what is justification for producing fancy clothing (instead of cheaper, simpler, more practical clothing)? Can anyone prove that a more fashion crazed society is a happier one? A more ethical one? A freer one?

    I believe that women should have the freedom to not care what they look like and to express themselves through their behaviours and words, without having to modify or damage their bodies or use up unnecessary money/resources. You know, the kind of freedom men already have?

    Like I said, my views may sound extreme in our highly consumerist, prettiness obsessed era, but I am sure they were mainstream within feminism and radical leftism at one point and I do not think we should be allowing such ideologies to become watered down.

    • What I would have said had I the written eloquence.

    • pbutterfly2000

      Actually your views are somewhat mainstream now (at least in practice) in a country in which 90% + of the population spends the least amount of time thinking about how they look as possible. Get out of the big cities, and you will see nothing but sweats, jeans, and sloppy t-shirts, and even in the big cities people wear workout clothes half the time. Fashion is like fine art at this point – it’s for the elite. No one wears the clothes in VOGUE magazine, except perhaps the very rich at their galas. Those clothes are like art gallery displays. It’s more of a class issue than a gender issue. In many other countries, where men dress up as much as women, sartorial issues are also class issues, and being able to afford a nice suit is important if you want to rise in society. Women won the battle to look sloppy in the ’70s or ’80s, and now most women look “sloppy” (I.e., not in shape wear and form-fitting garments) most of the time, and feel liberated for being able to do so. High fashion is irrelevant to most peoples’ lives. Lagerfeld’s fashion spread obviously has nothing to do with feminism, it’s true, only with using it to display some weird clownish suits and boots and wild prints. It’s art, not politics, but mostly everyone looking at it would know that right off the bat. I don’t think anyone is looking at this fashion spread and taking it seriously. He’s selling a fantasy.

      • Meghan Murphy

        It’s so true. We are given the impression, via pop/celebrity culture, that everyone is wearing this stuff, but the reality is that the vast majority of people in the world don’t think about fashion at all…

        • Missfit

          I think that most women are preoccupied with fashion (clothes, looks) to a certain degree. Fashion is pushed on women. Even though you are not interested, even though you are not following it, can’t afford it, it almost becomes a concern by force.

          You have like 10 women’s clothes stores for one men’s in shopping centers. Look at all the magazines for women that reserve a large part of its content to fashion/beauty. I don’t read these magazines, but surely some women must, they’re everywhere. This is ultimately all tied up to the fashion/beauty industry and pop/celebrity culture. And if affects women’s lives whether we want it or not. It creates preoccupations for women that men are free from in comparison. And before someone comes here and said ‘but I like it’, that’s not the point. The point is that the fashion/beauty industry creates certain expectations and the question is what are the downsides of these expectations for women.

          And men are the most renowned designers of women’s clothing? Men? Of women’s clothing? Barf. And this Lagerfeld… barf.

  • Twee

    I had to turn the radio off. Jeannie was lost.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ridic

  • Derrington

    Funny, didnt see any placards about anti prostitution, sex slavery, rape culture, sexual media promoting sexism fmg the vote in arab countries femicide sexist violence in the home …. Be your own stylist? Wtf? Thats feminist?!!! No wonder people think they dont need feminism with pricks like this repackaging it as a lifestyle issue. Chauvinist piece of shit 🙁

  • Christiane

    This man can be very clever and interesting, but blinded by his women’s hating, too sad; I really like when he speaks about his childhood in Germany but his opinion about women ( shared by all the fashion workers, halas) discredit himself completely ; when you open your eye to feminism, life become so uncomfortable !! (sorry for my poor English, not my first language)

  • jo

    Look at those deeply stupid and offensive signs.
    Good job Karl now you’ve made me look down on the fashion industry even more!

    I like beautiful clothes and jewelry but the less time I spend worrying about how I look and trying to keep up with trends, the better I feel. Humans have since the beginning of our time on earth liked to decorate ourselves for various reasons with face paint, embroidery, advanced hairstyles and so on – but now we have an industry telling us that thing we are wearing are so last year and that we must buy some new massproduced thing instead.
    Following fashion can add a lot of stress to a woman’s life. It’s hard work to keep up. Keeping yourself perfectly beautiful and trendy takes a lot of time, energy and money. It keeps women busy and mentally preoccupied.

    Viva crafts and slow fashion. Viva feminism. Karl Lagerfeld however, is completely outdated.

    • jo

      Heh that sounded preachy. But I’m so done with fashun. I was a total fashion victim for a while and DAMN that lost me one hell lot of money.
      Fashion keeps being promoted in an anti-woman way (dangerously malnourished models, glamorous ads showing male violence against women) and yet they want our money?!

    • I’m definitely not of the “fashion victim” subculture, but it is true that humans in all cultures have tried to look attractive and often to wear attractive fabrics and colours. Men as much as women, often more so, historically.

      Even in shantytowns and poor villages.

      Independent Radical, Rosa Luxemburg was among many prominent leftists (male and female) who had more than a bit of coquetterie in dress. Denying oneself pleasure in dress can be liberating, but it can also be a dangerous form of self-denial and puritanism. I remember certain leftist sects who acted like that, and it usually announced dangerous groupthink.

      Our Northern equivalent of Tony Abbott is his tweedle-dum tweedle-dee twin, Stephen Harper. There is a very funny photo of those two ecocidal creeps at one of those summits where “world leaders” dress up in silly “typical dress” of the host country.

      More politically, note that there is not a single word about the dire working conditions of garment workers, mostly young women, and the lack of compensation to the Rana Plaza survivors and the families of the dead. Oh, the prototypes for haute couture are made in ateliers, but nowadays fashion houses farm out their mass lines to low-wage countries with horrible working conditions. Or about certain forms of fashionable dress that are actually harmful, such as stiletto heels.

      • “Denying oneself pleasure in dress can be liberating, but it can also be a dangerous form of self-denial and puritanism.” If you want to dress up nice, be my guest, but stop shitting on those of us who know that the only reason we take pleasure in dress is because we’ve been conditioned to make ourselves attractive to men. “Puritan” is a synonym for “prude,” and it’s hurled at radical feminists all the time for not participating in liberal man-pleasing hedonism. If your argument is that rejecting fashion results in “dangerous groupthink,” you need more than just an anecdote to support it. I could argue that fashion itself is far more dangerous groupthink.

  • Zhanghe

    Such a load of crap. Karl Lagerfeld is a reptilian hybrid drowning in his own narcissism. He is famous for using the skinniest, of the skinny models, making the already walking corpses that are size 0’s, feel fat that they aren’t 00. He is forever choosing the youngest girls as well, because he has disturbing issues with any display of the mature female form.
    Hell, he even became obsessed with a man, Baptiste Giabiconi because he felt this young man is the spitting image of a Lagerfeld when he was young ( there’s only a 60 year age difference, must be love.)

    He lives in his own self-absorbed world, whose walls are held firmly in placed by all his money, yes-men, enablers.
    Feminism? Please. It was more like making a mockery of feminism.

  • Ellesar

    I wonder if any of those starving women were as embarrassed as I feel for them.

    The clothes are absolutely horrible too.

  • By the way, a CBC Fifth Estate episode, “Made in Bangladesh”, about the conditions under which much of our clothing is made:

    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2012-2013/made-in-bangladesh

    And no, not only cheap clothing from Joe Fresh, H&M etc. I’ve checked labels on clothing from shops in Outremont (a posh area not far from my far less posh one) and most are from low-wage countries.

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