The Design Museum’s Women Fashion Power runs until mid-April and is a fascinating exploration of the language of clothes and power. A celebration of exceptional women and how they use fashion to define and enhance their position; the lessons to learn are vast. Read on for our top exhibition takeaways:
Authentic style means self expression
Power dress codes as expressed through contemporary fashion are not necessarily led by price tag or label but rather an individual approach, a stylistic empowerment, if you will. Confidence in your own vision means no choice is the wrong choice.
Continued commitment to an aesthetic or message can fast become signature. Think Camila Batmanghelidjh’s dynamic, collaged fabrics or Westwood’s visual vehicles for her political and environmental campaigns (below).
Find your uniform
The idea of a creating a personal fashion uniform is well established. Men famously adhere to it. Think Steve Jobs’ roll necks, Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodies and Obama’s grey and navy suit rotation. Progressive women similarly have far too many decisions to make without frantically having to choose between hundreds of trends everyday.
A personal uniform is a signature style that streamlines your wardrobe and ensures you look reliably chic without fuss or overt statement. It works by stealth. Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet’s black jeans, white shirt, high-heels, good jacket and great bag exemplifies the idea; “When I dress that way I feel most like myself. And being yourself goes hand in hand with feeling confident and trusting yourself, your intuition, your ideas, your ability to make things happen.”
Contemporary fashion can be enlightening
From the restrictive 1900s corsets to suffragette clothing, flapper dresses to today’s affordable luxury and modern eco-fashion; our clothing choices throughout the decades resonate with the way women express themselves in society.
Many of the key fashion pieces from the past still feel so fresh today. From 70s Anni Hall mannish YSL pantsuits to the zeitgeist relevance of Katherine Hamnet’s mid-80s protest T-shirts and the perennial appeal of a little black dress (above). The deconstructed tailoring from Ann Demeulemeester’s Spring/Summer 1997 show (below), even now, feels avant-garde and beautifully wearable.
Fashion isn’t everything
Wardrobe aside, ultimately, we remember the woman. What she did, said and achieved on the world stage. Not what she was wearing.
Similarly, your wardrobe is a tiny fraction of the rich tapestry of your life. The new power dress code means not being a slave to fashion but comfortably engaging with your individuality and as a result, projecting empowerment. A useful thought for when you sense a familiar mid-week wardrobe dilemma approaching.