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LFW: fighting for the frills in feminism?

Susie Bubble explains how fashion is rebranding feminism one sexy slip at a time

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

I went to a hardcore girls' school, where there were very defined and distinct divides between the girls.Those who campaigned to wear trousers as part of official school uniform, debated socialism (for fun) during lunch hour and listened to Nirvana, and the girls who competed with each other over how many boys they pulled over the weekend, ruched up their school skirts and shopped at Morgan every week. We (I’d say I was closer to the former group – except for the socialism part) were ingrained to get riled up about the so-called “bimbos”, and their vanity and their narcissism, as we stomped around in our Dr. Martens, feeling like we had achieved something just by our “alt” girl attributes.

Some of the female tropes that we have seen at London Fashion Week have stirred up those finite divisions. The Pocahontas (the Disney character, not the real person) slash scorned Nancy Sinatra femme looking for a lover at a rodeo at Ryan Lo’s fluffy frou-frou presentation.The girls trussed up in fur chubbies, slips and sexy school uniform nods at Topshop Unique, sashaying to Beyoncé. Lucas Nascimento paid homage to 1960s/70s model Veruschka, who posed for Playboy in 1971 dripping with body paint and draped with animal skins to titillate the “carnal” male libido. Even a cheerleader manages to pop up as a physical print in Peter Pilotto’s collection. But hold up, we’re supposed to be hating on these gormless characters doing everything to appease men, whether consciously or not. They don’t belong to the sisterhood. These muses are not going to be helping our cause in the big fight.

“The idea that feminism was for everyone – not just ‘angry, man-hating, dungaree-wearing radicals who spend most of their time in vagina acceptance workshops’”

But that’s the feminism of yesteryear. The one which frowns upon shaving your legs, Barbie dolls or liking fashion in the first place because of its perceived frivolity and lack of depth. The blog Vagenda’s campaign to “rebrand” feminism last September paid heed to the idea that feminism was for everyone – and not just “angry, man-hating, dungaree-wearing radicals who spend most of their time in vagina acceptance workshops.”

Look at Sophia Webster, who turned the ultimate bimbo archetype on its head as she presented a Heartbreak Hotel presentation, where Beverly Hills-inspired babes were lounging around sexting, applying lipstick, trying on shoes, cleaning, watching repeats of The Simple Life with Paris and Nicole and skim reading the masterpiece that is Cheryl vs. Ashley: When Love Dies. Instead of eye-rolling at this seemingly vapid portrayal of women, it’s nice to know that we’re at that point where you could care just as much about a pair of marabou-trimmed kitten heels as you do about girl power.

“It ain’t no sisterhood if there isn’t unity and the plight is still very much unresolved”

Women hating on other women has diverted the conversation in the wrong direction. It’s patriarchy and inequality we should be hating on. It ain’t no sisterhood if there isn’t unity, and the plight is still very much unresolved on all fronts. Sexism and discrimination in the workplace, portrayals and representation of women in the media and violence against women – these issues are alive and kicking. And you can wear Ryan Lo’s frills and a pair of Sophia Webster shoes and still put up a good fight.