‘I paint what I like and when I like’ David Hockney
The freedom that is permitted to creatives when they apply full dedication to their profession and careers is something I see as the ultimate goal in life. This idea of personal activism and the exploration of the self, which goes deeper than selfish decisions or frivolous actions, is one that interests me endlessly. In a talk by Tracey Emin that I attended in December, she said ‘look after yourself and you can look after hundreds of people’. It is not a case of making selfish decisions that negatively impact others, it is about loving and respecting yourself enough that you do not make decisions that harm each other. Using the the theory of nature vs nurture, you can argue that the consequences of negative experiences in childhood lead to actions in adults that otherwise would not behave in this way; whether that be world leaders making globally affected decisions or events happening in a microcosm of society, each event is a domino effect on another. In which case, if this idea of loving yourself to help others is true it really does highlight the need for personal activism; the recognition that activism must begin truly in your own mind and kindness can only be perpetuated if one is kind to themselves.
The image of archetypal beautiful women carrying banners and signs emblazoned with slogans such as ‘boys should get pregnant too’ and ‘ladies first’ on the catwalk, whilst adorned in the finest Chanel garments, is one that raises many issues within the fashion industry’s fetishisation of rebellion and counterculture. The embodiment of the spirit of protest purely for commerce is one which stands against everything that socially and politically conscious designers try to achieve in their work. The commodification of counterculture completely contradicts that of say Katherine Hamnett and the political slogan t-shirts she is synonymous for; some of which are on sale at the moment on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) website. It is the sincerity in which this link to counterculture is achieved in that it is clear for example, Hamnett, is consistent in her work attacking social and world issues she is concerned with. Chanel however are attaching ‘feminist’ principles to a show dominated by a nearly all white, very slim casting, it is near impossible to see any genuine feeling about the causes Chanel are attaching themselves to. It is purely a way for those fortunate enough to be able to buy the garments, to also simultaneously buy into a feeling of rebellion or that the consumer is somehow part of fighting the struggles of inequality through a thinly veiled representation of protest imagery. I am not at all suggesting that fashion must simply sit in a realm of its own with no reference to social causes, however it is incredibly degrading to commodify these causes with no sense of dedication, only perpetuating the acceptibility of the throwaway nature of fashion today.