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  • Fashion can be fun and frivolous, it can elevate its wearer through beauty and be a positive means of escapism. Fashion can project a visual representation of who you are, or who you want to be, and is the ultimate tool in self-expression. But what happens when clothing becomes communication and fashion becomes a wider platform for expression? Of course, fashion has long contained political messaging, conveyed through the symbolic language of clothes. Back in the eighteenth century, socialite and premier Whig hostess, Lady Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire, continually used fashion as a means to express her political beliefs: a fox fur muff was worn to signal support of leader Charles James Fox. More recently, women shunned the skirt in place of the ‘masculine’ trouser as a strong visual statement of freedom and independence from men. In our super connected modern world, which offers so much transparency on global issues, there can seem an even greater urgency to wear your heart on your sleeve. Alexander McQueen designed clothes that would imbue the individual wearer with a sense of power, communicating strength to all encountered: ‘I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.’ Pop culture fashion icon Lady Gaga understands the shock value of fashion to express her own beliefs and draw the world’s attention to wider issues. Her carefully crafted dress made entirely from cuts of meat and worn to MTV Awards Music Awards 2010 was released with a wider statement, including the immortal words, ‘I am not a piece of meat.’
  • Above; Alexander McQueen, AW09 catwalk
  • Above; Vivienne Westwood, AW15 catwalk
  • Dame Vivienne Westwood has often used the catwalk as a platform to express her political and ethical views. From her SS15 pro-Scottish Independence ‘YES’ badges, to her eco-warrior inspired ‘Vote Green’ AW15 show, the punk provocateur has used fashion time and time again as a means to get her message heard. The combination of purposeful expression and the visual power of fashion is not to be underestimated. Harnessing the two art forms beyond individual self-expression, allows a wider and more urgent message to society to be communicated in a unique and memorable way.