Politics was in fashion in 2017

The fashion search engine Lyst has compiled the Top 10 most-used words in the fashion world for 2017. The top three terms, in order, were “power,” “woke” and “statement.”

Interesting. I would have guessed it would be words such as “stylish,” “chic” and “elegant,” but none of those even made the Top 10. Apparently, the world of fashion has moved beyond these things.

Looking around, it’s clear what became fashionable in 2017 are blatant political statements.

For instance, in the fall New York Fashion Week show, designer Prabal Gurung had models walk down the runway wearing T-shirts with messages such as “Our Minds Our Bodies Our Power” and “We Will Not Be Silenced.” Gurung himself wore a T-shirt stating “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like.”

In Milan’s 2017 Fashion Week, Italian fashion leader Donatella Versace also used her models to make a statement. They had writing on their hats, scarves and shirts, with words like “Unified,” “Courage,” “Strength” and “Loyalty.”

Versace said she was making a comment on the power of women, noting the “world is a strange place at the moment.” Indeed.

I have to believe that people who care about fashion don’t go to shows to be nagged or lectured or screamed at.

In London, British designer Vivienne Westwood, who’s known for being political, even handed out notes to explain what the symbols on her clothes meant. A diamond symbolized “greed, rot$, propaganda,” a phallus meant “war” and a triangle stood for “giants like Shell and Monsanto who rape the Earth.” A pretty heavy message for such thin models.

Even the symbols on Westwood’s own T-shirt meant something. As she explained, “We are f------ the Earth. This is NASA information, it’s official information but the world is ignoring it. There will only be one billion people left by the end of this century, because the Earth will be mostly uninhabitable.”

Now please buy this $1,800 cocktail dress.

Fashion designers are allowed to express themselves. In fact, that’s in their job description. But shouldn’t that expression be made through, say, lovely, imaginative designs? Or is “lovely” a bad word now? I notice it didn’t make the Top 10 list, while “ugly” did (at number nine, just below “cult” and above “vegan”).

Of course, the designers aren’t saying anything their audience doesn’t already agree with. In that, they’re playing it safe. With so many people who they know taking part in the resistance against today’s political atmosphere, why not join in?

I am, however, not sure why the designers are so troubled by the ascendance of Donald Trump to the presidency. If nothing else, it means they’ve got a real fashion model living in the White House.

My point is not that designers don’t have something to say. My point is they should use their talents for better purposes. Every day, everywhere, we’re faced with politics. There’s more than enough out there. What’s missing is beauty.

In the long run, I have to believe that people who care about fashion don’t go to shows to be nagged or lectured or screamed at. I think they want to be thrilled by the artistry and imagination of the designer.

That’s a “statement” with “power” I wish these “woke” designers would understand.