We are in the midst of a social evolution moving at a speed like never before. A gift of technology that allows information to be instantaneously captured and shared all through a device that fits in the palm of our hands. Communities bridge with compassion to counter social injustices and moral corruption, while ideas are able to find support quickly.
This speed, this megaphone, has an impact on our collective social psych. It influences how society responses to issues of culture insensitively such as Dolce & Gabbana’s recent China event to the more global course correction of the #MeToo movement.
Historically fashion creatives have been able to rely on a few straight forward adages to concept ideas around. At the core has been the adage ‘sex sells.’ But in light of recent cultural shifts, The Impression had to ask “Is the adage that sex sells still true today?“
We asked several of fashion’s leading notables including Creative Consultant, Writer, Editor-in-Chief at SHOWstudio, Mimma Viglezio, for her thoughts. Viglezio is a recognized for her integrity of interviews and industry awareness due to having worked in executive positions for Bulgari in Rome, Louis Vuitton in Paris and Gucci Group (now Kering) in London. We asked the prolific editor for her thoughts on ‘Does sex sell today?’
The Impression: Is sex the same today as it was yesterday? Mimma Viglezio: Definitely not. The younger generations are less obsessed with sexy and sex, depicted in the old fashion way, where a woman shows off her body for the man’s gaze. The Trump era’s silver lining is the open reaction to all kind of abuse; the “me too” movement was not born suddenly out of nowhere, but it is a natural social reaction to a culture of objectification of women, accepted for too many years.
The industry is finally admitting that sexual harassment is a reality, and that models are often treated like commodities at an auction. We are finally in a time where “politically correct” is not a behavioral code but something more and more imbibed in our cultures and in our common ways of life, so why do we consider powerful, some extraordinarily (in the real sense of the word) beautiful women, oiled up, made up and dressed up to look, well, extra-ordinary? They might feel empowered, but I am afraid they mostly appear powerless, beautiful presents for the world enjoyment. I hope that the LOVE advent calendar this year will take this into account.
Also, I can’t stop thinking that the slightly anachronistic Victoria Secret show is more a cash machine for the models than an act of empowerment, and I wonder if they all truly do feel powerful, in their wings. It’s not the underwear, it’s the attitude of the whole show that I find a little disturbing. The real problem is the frame.
The Impression: Is ‘sex’ even relevant in fashion communication today? Mimma Viglezio: Sex has no relevance in any communications. Most of all because today sex, beauty and desire have shift towards a more humane and inclusive direction. The relevance today comes from unity, Gucci’s tribes dancing or playing together dressed in bonkers styles with little flesh showing, All-American denim casting for diverse women, beautiful in their ethnicity and body shapes without prejudice and so on.
The young generations are more politically engaged and socially aware than ever before, and if that has not killed sex in the bedroom, well it has killed it in fashion communications, hopefully, for good.
The new Celine by Heidi Slimane was definitely tone deaf, even if the fashion, later to appear on store’s shelves, might be modern and desirable: the problem, again, was the frame, the attitude with which it was presented and the hint to a defunct ideal of beauty and sexuality.
The Impression: Is inclusion really sexy, or simply an aspect of social evolution? Mimma Viglezio: Inclusion is sexy, because today sexy means acceptance, love for oneself, respect, not a girl in a bikini licking a banana.
Portrait Photo | Ed Reeve
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