A 2016 Fashion Review with a Difference

Here’s a 2016 fashion review with a twist.

The fashion industry is known for being capricious and superficial. Proof of this is Victoria Beckham’s OBE. Gaining a place on the New Year’s Honours List has seen a backlash for VB, with many accusing her of ‘a betrayal of etiquette’, mostly because of her ‘leaking’ the information about her prestigious OBE honour in the first place. According to insiders, this breach of protocol is just not cool. However, I have something more to say about this, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Victoria Beckham bragging about her recent triumph!

Personally, I do not care if she let the cat out of the bag; an OBE is a huge honour after all! What I do have a problem with is Victoria Beckham bringing back anorexic chic.

Not so long ago, there was a consensus within the fashion industry that ultra-skinny models should be banned from catwalks. Victoria Beckham defied this, and the Victoria Beckham 2017 spring/summer catwalk show showcased a series of emaciated models showing off the latest VB clothing collection. The VB outfits hung off the models that, dare I say it, resembled pre-pubescent schoolboys, let alone any ‘normal’ girl or woman. The VB clothes themselves appeared to have also been mindfully designed to highlight the models’ skinny frames.

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Beckham’s choice of runway models glorifies anorexic chic. 

Despite Victoria Beckham’s promotion of anorexic chic, there has been quite a lot of positive fashion news within the industry, news that I believe is worth highlighting, because this indicates that we’ve evolved and times are-a-changing.

I believe it’s essential to recognise all altruistic actions, especially within the fashion industry. Acknowledging such progressive moves within a cutthroat industry highlights what people have been fighting for in the fashion world, which is namely equality and inclusivity.

So all the negatives aside, here is some positive fashion highlights that I believe are worth embracing and celebrating. This is my personal 2016 fashion review that has ultimately restored my faith in humanity.

Tommy Hilfiger’s Runway of Dreams

I love Tommy Hilfiger’s clothes. They are the epitome of classic and casual chic, especially his Americana-inspired clothing ranges. He’s also known for a gaggle of ‘It’ girls, who’re more than happy to model them.

Tommy Hilfiger’s recent move to partner with Runway of Dreams was quite refreshing. Their aim was simple – to make adaptive clothes for children with disabilities.

Like most able-bodied people, I often take for granted the simple things in everyday life, such as getting dressed in the morning by myself. However, for lesser-abled people, this is an ongoing and what I can only imagine to be a frustrating struggle.

The Tommy Hilfiger Runway of Dreams collaboration showcases a range of fashionable clothing for lesser-abled children that has hidden magnetic closures, making a simple task, which we take for granted, such as dressing and undressing much easier.

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The Tommy Hilfiger Runway of Dreams collaboration means that all lesser-abled children can wear clothes of their choice thanks to this ingenious adaptive clothing range.

OshKosh B’Gosh Casts Down Syndrome Child

After pushing for greater acceptance of children with Down Syndrome, a mother has not only won over children’s fashion brand OshKosh B’Gosh, her son, who has Down Syndrome, was also the face of their new holiday ads.

Originally, little Nash was rejected in the virtual casting because of his Down Syndrome status, with OshKosh B’Gosh’s representative model agency stating the brand doesn’t require a ‘special needs’ child. Angered and hurt, Nash’s mother petitioned against the snub, only for her gorgeous boy to be reconsidered and eventually cast. I think he’s the cutest little guy and that smile just melts my heart!

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It took some time, but OshKosh B’Gosh eventually realised that despite having Down Syndrome, little Nash’s smile was enough to charm their fanbase and that a person’s condition doesn’t give permission to discriminate. 

Ward + Robes Designer Hospital Gowns

Being bed bound and spending weeks or even months in hospital is depressing enough, let alone having to don that omnipresent drab hospital sack people refer to as hospital gowns. Unflattering yes, lacking in personality and individually, most definitely!

This led Starlight Children’s Foundation to launch Ward + Robes, a cool initiative that aims to bring hospital gowns that have been custom designed to sick teens, allowing these children to proudly show off their personalities and individuality.

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The smile on this young girl’s face after receiving her new personalised hospital gown from the Ward + Robes initiative is absolutely priceless. 

The Future is Inclusion – Chromat

Chromat runways consistently celebrate diversity and inclusion. Designer, Becca McCharen makes it her business to purposefully cast models on the Chromat runway that are typically rebuked by other fashion designers. Non-white models, plus-size models and trans models frequently grace McCharen’s runways, which I view as a great step in celebrating and highlighting all types of beauty.

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While 7/10 models who graced big fashion name runways were white, Chromat runways continue to celebrate all types of beauty and diversity. 

Ashley Nell Quashes Plus-size Stereotypes

In 2015, Ashley Nell celebrated her Project Runway win. With her fashion forward and out-of-the-box fashion ideas, her success was groundbreaking. Not only does she celebrate the fuller figure with her inclusion of plus-size clothing and plus-size catwalk models, she also likes to break the fashion rules regarding clothing for curvier women with plus-size crop tops, fitted bodycon dresses and clothes with horizontal stripes. The Ashley Nell fashion collection featured at the New York Fashion Show, and the fact that she’s breaking all the rules and counteracting those fashion size stereotypes is enough to convince me that she’s leaving a massive imprint in the fashion industry.

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This gorgeous lace dress by Ashley Nell breaks a number of plus-size clothing rules, and I love it!

New York Fashion Week’s Hijab Collection

When we think of female Muslim attire, we automatically think ‘conservative’, ‘plain’ or ‘dowdy’. While this is not a racial attack as such, it is what Western society has ingrained in our minds. Anyone who’s wandered around the shopping malls of the UAE or just Dubai or Abu Dhabi Airport for that matter know that Muslim fashion for women is far from uninspiring. Back home in the West, the mindsets are much different however, which is why it was refreshing to see the first-ever Hijab Collection at the NYFW.

Muslim fashion designer, Anniesa Hasibuan, roused excitement and made history during the September NYFW. It was the first runway show to ever showcase every single runway model wearing hijabs.

With the widespread anti-Muslim rhetoric and numerous hate crimes being reported on a daily basis, this Muslim inspired catwalk show was inspirational and refreshing to say the least. Although, personally, I still think it’s sad that this has to be newsworthy, and I look forward to the day it isn’t, especially in places like the UK, which is considered to be a huge melting pot of diversity.

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The Barbie Doll Makeover

For years, Barbie has been this unrealistic portrayal of female dimensions. No woman in the world has such body proportions, yet we continued to gift our daughters and young girls with these toys despite the mounting negative body image amongst young girls today.

Mattel has finally taken all of this on board, and as a result Barbie has had a massive makeover with three new body types – petite, curvy and tall. It’s never too late to make a difference, and I love how Mattel’s Barbie dolls now have 33 new Barbie dolls that have four different body types, seven different skin tones, 22 eye colours, 14 face shapes, 30 hair colours, and 24 hair styles, and if this isn’t enough Mattel has also just finished creating an Ashley Graham Barbie doll – finally a Barbie doll without a thigh gap!

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Barbie just got ‘real’ thanks to Mattel’s introduction of the tall, curvy and petite Barbie doll. 

The All Woman Project

‘Flaws’ can be beautiful, and the All Woman Project proved just this. When we see models, we see these perfect idealized creatures. Portrayed as non-human like, we know deep down that no woman or human is indeed ‘that’ perfect. We also know that photographers, editors and photograph retouchers spend hours upon hours altering images to get the desired look, and yet this doesn’t stop us from striving to be like them!

Models Clementine Desseaux and Charli Howard set out to prove the world wrong; they wanted to show that models are just as human as the rest of us. With this in mind they launched their own fashion campaign, only this one was un-retouched, featuring models of different ethnicities and body types. Women around the world let out a collective sigh of relief as the models’ imperfections were highlighted and not hidden. Stretch marks, skin blemishes, cellulite and acne were just a few ‘imperfections’ that demonstrated that models are as ‘normal’ as we are.

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Charli Ward and her All Woman Project showed us mere mortals that no model, no matter how skinny or gorgeous she appears in a photo shoot, is ‘perfect’ – WHEW!

The Diesel ‘About You’ Campaign

I’ve always loved Diesel’s approach to fashion and its ethos is just as noteworthy. One of Diesel’s most recent campaigns entitled “About You” features two models, Benjamin Melzer and Loiza Lamers, who also just happen to be trans models.

Both transgender models have made a name for themselves in their own right already without the help of the “About You” Diesel campaign. Melzer once featured on the cover of Germany’s Men’s Health magazine, and Lamers, won the Netherlands Next Top Model.

This is yet another sign that the fashion world is becoming more inclusive and accepting.

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The ‘About You’ Diesel Campaign is proof that famous fashion brands are taking note and becoming more inclusive. 

A Plus-Size Male Model is Signed

Plus-size female models have been around for a while, and there are major model agencies that take on beautiful plus-size women on a regular basis, but until this year, the same could not be said for our larger plus-size male models. Finally 2016 saw IMG adding the first-ever larger male model to a renowned modeling agency. Zach Miko, who is dashingly handsome, was first inadvertently thrust into the fashion industry spotlight after a standard Target photo shoot, which stirred excitement amongst the body-positive community.

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I personally think IMG Modelling Agency made a superb choice when choosing the first-ever plus-size male model, Zach Miko – he’s scrumptious! Oh, and it’s good for the whole body confidence movement as well! 

Diverse Models Grace Covers of Illustrious Fashion Magazines

I used to sneer at the covers of Sports Illustrated. I often thought that the portrayal of such idealised women on the front were making it more difficult for the average woman with curves, which was why I was pleasantly surprised to see that Sport Illustrated had a bit of a makeover this year.

Not only did my favourite plus-size model, Ashley Graham, make the cover of Sports Illustrated, Ronda Rousey, the world famous UFC fighter made the cut as well. Of course the typical Sports Illustrated cover models did make an appearance too, but I was happy to see Sports Illustrated make that necessary departure from the expected.

To make even more of a point, Sports Illustrated also featured a gorgeous 56-year-old model, which is helping break down barriers related to ageism and other types of discrimination. British model Nicola Griffin was the oldest woman ever to appear in Sports Illustrated.

Speaking of surprising magazine covers, Ashley Graham also made her debut on British Vogue’s cover. This was the first time-ever in Vogue’s existence that a plus-size female model has adorned its cover.

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Gorgeous plus-sized model, Ashley Graham, not only posed for the cover of Sports Illustrated, she also was the first ever plus size model for British Vogue!

Fur-Free Armani

I’m not a vegetarian nor am I a vegan, but I still think it’s repulsive that we kill animals for the sake of beauty. I love the faux fur look, and with all its advancements, there’s no excuse ever to be donning real fur! But I still scratch my head sometimes, wondering why some big fashion names insist on using real fur, especially considering the backlash against animal cruelty in fashion.

This is why seeing a luxurious fashion brand such as Armani getting rid of real fur is exciting. Moving towards more ethical clothing can only be a positive step in the right direction, so let’s hope other high-end fashion brands follow suit soon.

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Good bye real fur – Armani embraces faux fur!

The Broadening of Nude Products – 50 Shades of Beige

Up until recently, the colour nude has connoted a very exact shade of beige. I must admit that this has never really crossed my mind until I read about it recently.

We all know well and good that every skin tone is not that particular shade of beige. In the past, there have been few brands that offer nude colour varieties, but 2016 has seen a nude uprising, with many flesh coloured hues being readily available. Naja Lingerie has released its “Nude for All” collection, and at present it features seven skin tones with the hope of expanding its repertoire in 2017. Other designers and fashion influencers quickly followed, which included renowned Muslim fashion blogger, Habiba Da Silva, who dramatically launched her unique collection of flesh coloured hijabs.

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Naja’s Nude for All lingerie campaign is a telling sign that things are finally changing in the fashion world. It’s taken its time, but better late than never! 

#WhoMadeMyClothes

Over the last year, I tried to make more of a conscious effort to understand the origins of the clothes I was buying. Fast fashion has been a huge issue for some years now; its been linked to problems such as lack of sustainability, garment wastage, environmental damage, but worst of all ill-health and even death of some of those people creating the items.

Sparked by the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, Fashion Revolution began a new annual campaign, which is accompanied by the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes. While it’s not going to make a difference overnight, the yearly campaign aims to raise more awareness amongst consumers while urging  the fashion industry to accept more accountability and be more transparent.

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Knowing where your clothes come from and who made them makes us become more aware of what fast fashion is doing. 

Fashion Fights Bigotry

From fashion enthusiasts boycotting any fashion brand backed by the Trump dynasty to renowned fashion designers promising to never dress the imminent American First Family, the Fashion Industry politically demonstrated against some of Republican Trump’s presidential candidature traits, such as xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, and white supremacy. The Social Media campaign with the hashtag #GrabYourWallet was established to encourage consumers to vote using their dollars and boycotting any Trump backed fashion brands.

Sophie Theallet, the main fashion designer who dressed Michelle Obama publically denounced Trump’s victory and quickly vowed never to dress the new incoming First Lady, Melania Trump. Her influence echoed through the fashion world, with both Kenzo and Humberto Leon promising to do the same.

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Despite her model background, the new First Lady of America, Melania Trump, is finding it a challenge to get fashion designers on board. 

Functional Clothes for Syrian Refugees

The plight of the Syrians continues. Despite the lesser news coverage of the Syrian crisis, 2016 saw more displaced Syrian refugees than ever. It saddens me to witness such atrocities and disharmony in the modern world, and I have to admit that I feel helpless. I do donate, but the cynic within always questions how much I am actually helping and where my money is really going.

My faith in humanity was once again restored with fashion grad Angela Luna’s functional fashion for the Syrian refugees and other like migrants. Luna’s innovative functional fashion collection is made up of metamorphic unisex garments, which transform from a simple raincoat to a survival aid, such as sleeping bags, floatation devices and tents.

The designs and prototypes are still in the works, but Luna’s goal is to get them to the production line in 2017. This charitable initiative spurred her to launch ADIFF, a charity in which you can donate directly to the fashion line’s creation.

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