I happened upon a very intriguing article about women and how we make the world a better place. And as a proud representative of the gentler sex, I stopped. I keep asking myself, whether we’re aware of our own power or the courage buried deep inside of us, and the inclination to sacrifice, which keeps weighting us down our entire lives. I don’t think we are. Somehow, we comprehend things, because they happen, and don’t even stop to wonder, how much of a role we’ve had in our own success. On the other hand, we always feel like perfection is expected of us. Perfection of a face without wrinkles, perfection of the body, in raising children, and in every other area of our lives as well. And each of them makes a huge difference in its own small, tiny world. More than anybody else. Without compromise and silently, because that’s what we’ve gotten used to or because it just seems best that way to us. I’ve never heard a friend blow off too much steam and complain about the tempo that society imposes on us in combination with our work. Every single one of us knows what I’m talking about. And I’ve never heard a woman fuss too much about sleepless nights or about the fact that pregnancy is quite a challenging thing to handle, and to be perfectly honest, no man could do. He simply wouldn’t. If you add all these small, significant “details” together, you can tell women are extraordinary and irreplaceable. Sometimes disturbingly so, because it takes a lot to take us down.
“Whether you like it or not, the world of fashion belong to women. It’s women’s business.” With these words, the documentary Face: Supermodels, Then and Now by Timothy Greenfield Sanders begins. In it, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Isabella Rossellini, and other top models talk about themselves. The main topic is the less than simple and sometimes short-lived modeling career. The generation from the 60’s and 70’s have already been followed by two more: first Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, and Kate Moss, then Heidi Klum and Giselle Bündchen. These beautiful women and icons are dedicated visionaries, lovers of beauty and art, ready to do everything to change the times they live in. This is what Times magazine wrote in reference to Linda Fargo, the soul of the legendary Bergdorf Goodman, New York, stating that luxury and style revolve around women, who are able to process these concepts. These are real live women. I wonder, if they’re the women who wrote the history of fashion, or the ones that changed fashion History, with a capital H?
Assuming the first part is true would be an oversimplification, and the second may well be an exaggeration. Either way, when it comes to women’s emancipation, fashion had undoubtedly played a huge role. The term fashion in this instance encases the entire structure, everyone who makes fashion an art form as well as commerce: artists, photographers, tailors, editors, designers, models, merchants, craftsmen, journalists, advertisers, and so on. All of this is fashion. All of this enables change, the birth of new trends, which have to happen on an intellectual level first, only then the visual. And only then can we start talking about Christina Broom, the first female photo journalist in history, who captured the endeavors of the British suffragettes, which were recognizable for their signs, attending protests and a similar fashion. The United Kingdom was shaken by another revolution: Barbara “Biba” Ulanicki, fashion illustrator of Polish descent and a graduated artist, opened one of the historic boutiques in London, where a young Anna Wintour worked. Today, she is the famous editor of Vogue and it’s no exaggeration to say she is one of the most influential women in the world. Anna succeeded yet another famous and appreciated woman, Diana Vreeland, who had herself started out in sales and went on to editing Vogue and another famous magazine, Harper’s Bazaar.
But the real revolution had started even before, in the 1920’s, and it was caused by Coco Chanel; Vreeland often visited her in Paris. Coco was the first to realize the necessity of dressing active women; even though she never described herself as a feminist, her art had a profound impact on spreading the movement and creating a new concept of femininity, from where fashion drew its inspiration later on. Things began changing in Italy as well: Fendi furriery took its first steps outside the local market and in time, due to five sisters, Anna, Franca, Paola, Alda, and Carla, Fendi became one of the most famous Italian labels. It’s only right to mention that made in Italyis connected to four segments: dressmaking, agriculture and food, furniture, and automobile industry. We cannot conclude this short historical overview without mentioning the haute-couture house of Sorelle Fontana. Three sisters have intuited the power of cinematography even before Valentino, so they transported Italian fashion and culture into the world and dressed actresses and divas, such as Gina Lollobrigida, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Jackie Kennedy. These empires have lasted to this day, the legacy has survived wars and crises, they always found a way to follow society, change it and adapt to it. All the women‒artists, interpreters, designers, and models‒chose a common mission: to make the world a better place.
I believe that female energy is magical and female beauty is limitless. I’m not talking about the noticeable, almost brutal beauty of pouty lips, luscious hair, button nose and silky smooth skin. I’m talking about an inner glow, about the fact that years are relative and you don’t necessarily have to wear a mini skirt to look young. Looking back at history, including fashion history, I can only say one thing: Bravo. We have also inherited this sense of aesthetics and we can achieve a lot if we take small steps. By teaching our kids to say Hello and Thank you, and by teaching them to stop when they see a thing of beauty. Buy them a nice book instead of a gossip magazine, because they don’t lead anywhere. After all, we all build our own story, so don’t get preoccupied by the stories of those who may not be at their peak, which leaves them vulnerable to gossiping. Don’t forget, what goes around, comes around. Don’t let this grayness swallow you or the rain to wash off all remaining possibilities. Pick yourself up like the heroines who trod the path for us, and believe me, they were spared nothing. Neither are we. But, as I’ve said: who would dare bringing us down.
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