Two seamless worlds—fashion and women—were on display at New York’s fashion week. Celebrated designers and self-proclaimed fashion enthusiasts crowded the white tents at Bryant Park eager for a glimpse of macramé dresses, tulip skirts and paint-splashed prints opening the iconic fall fashion season. But something else was on display this year amidst the high fashion and glamour—the power woman. An obvious display of the latest woman armed with razor-sharp shoulders and tough chic found her way onto the runway.
An article by Suzy Menkes, “Power Woman—With a Punch,” explores the irresistible influence of the fashion movement on the power of women today. According to Menkes, today’s woman in armed with the fashionable tools to take on a man’s world—tailored and cuffed shorts.
Menkes’ article is really a social commentary about how with the right shoes and accessories, the female secretary can be catapulted into the board room. Forget her mind, forget her education, but remember that she does not dare to wear last year’s Ralph Lauren blazer. Menke juxtaposes Diane Von Furstenberg’s original wrap dress in the 1970’s with the different kind of female freedom found in DVF’s 2010 collection. This freedom is only attained when women are wrapped in an androgynous armor that places her equal to her male counterpart.
Menkes continues her exploration of fashion and highlights the tension in Derek Lam’s collection as she notes,
For Menkes it would be “backward looking” to think that a man was necessary to complete a look. For me, men not only complete my look but they are irreplaceable for my outlook. Fashion dames to compare “men as the new shoes” by minimizing men to a mere accessory that one day are in and the next, are out. Remarkable isn’t? Something as beautiful as fashion can go as far as to erase an entire gender. This may be a power punched woman, but I want her to go away.