Did she know? Did designer Maria Grazia Chiuri know that in late September, 2016 she would start the modern interpretation of the protest-by-tshirt trend? (reminder: nothing in fashion is every truly new.)

Probably not. However Dior’s creative director, in her debut collection for the brand, did seem to be the first to tap into the third wave of feminism that was starting to infiltrate everyday life. Issues raised in the U.S. election taking place at the time are the cause of same.

Clearly, one does not need to be an American or live in America to feel the ramifications of such debates.

Grazia Chiuri was the first, but not the last . The end of the election season, and its subsequent results, brought about a wave of fashion designers showing their feelings about and support for issues like women’s rights, immigration, you name it.

Christian Siriano, Public School, and Raul Solis all incorporated political messages into their Fall 2017 designs. Public School interestingly showcased the phrase, “Make America New York”, clearly playing tongue-and-cheek with the well-known election phrase and pointing to the diversity of people and thought for which the Big Apple is known.

The cynic would say that this protest-by-tshirt trend is just that. A trend. One that is soon to go away as fast as a last-season H&M jumpsuit. But what if modern designers are feeling the responsibility of voicing their opinions through their art? 

Take Prabal Gurung. The New York- based fashion designer also flexed his political muscles in his Spring 2017 collection in September, albeit on a smaller scale and with less fanfare than the house of Dior. Instead of immediately starting with t-shirts emblazoned with a statement, he first took the artistic route and beautifully showcased the words of inspiring women woven into the fabrics of the collection. If not on the fabric itself, he also added quotes to the accents of grosgrain ribbon in several looks as well. It’s a far cry from the days when designer t-shirts just emblazoned the name of designers on them, serving as free ads for them.

Emboldened by the election results, the designer went a step further for Spring 2017 with several bold t-shirts. As the finale began on the runway, the models’ wares proclaimed statements like, “Revolution has no borders” and “The Future is Female”. And then the designer himself closed the show with one single and powerful t-shirt: “This is what a feminist looks like.”

Yes, it does. And although the modern audience is known for its collective short attention span, this time just may be different. Here’s hoping that the all of designers mentioned above, and many more, will continue to encourage honest dialogue through their designs. 

Christian Siriano has also long been a champion for plus-size models on the runway. He embraces the fact that women, his customers especially, come in all shapes and sizes. This season though, Prabal Gurung also made a conscious effort to include two plus-size models in his runway collection as well. Coincidence? We’re saying no.

As people are now challenging the definition of what it means to be a woman, they are now challenging the ideal of what a women should look like. Let us be thankful that real change is coming thanks to these powerful discussions. On and off the runway.

–Jenny Perusek

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