Thursday, October 14, 2010

Second stop: Marbella

Second stop since I started my research: Marbella, or as I like to call it Barbie land, where anything more noticeable than clothes is the silicone. While the old Marbella (15 to 20 years ago) was filled with elegantly dressed women in  discrete sober dresses, matching hats and beautiful shoes and bags, the new one is filled with girls dressed in minimalist clothing and flashy vulgar accessories.  Whereas in Madrid I was wondering what women were wearing, in Marbella they are almost wearing nothing. It seems that the new fashion is nude, and I am not referring to the color of course!

Marbella was once the home of a worldwide high society. Only the crème de la crème vacationed in the small town. But over the past five years, it also became a popular sight for money laundering, an attraction for mobsters, a home for an international mafia, and by consequence a desirable location for easy money and materialism. What’s better than attracting bold middle aged rich men in flashy cars than wearing almost nothing? Wearing nothing with flashy, cheap and tasteless accessories I guess!!!

I am all for women’s freedom to choose their own dress code but it’s nice not to expose too much skin. There is a thin line between sexy and vulgar. Sexy always leaves some things to the imagination. Vulgar is lack of good taste. So cover up a little chicas and I definitely do not mean make up! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First stop: Madrid

First stop since I started my research: Madrid. Excited about how the art and culture in Madrid might affect fashion in a positive way, I somehow ended up at a reception where everything was present but style. It seems that people have forgotten how to dress and have distanced themselves from the term elegance. Dressed in an electric blue BCBG short dress, black shiny Gucci stilettos, and a classic black Chanel handbag, I feared that I was underdressed. On the contrary, I was overdressed. Although men were all wearing suits, granted not all were color coordinated, most women were wearing…I’m not sure… I don’t know if most of these women tried to mark an assertive role in a male dominated business world, but they surely did not dress feminine enough. As women, we are so lucky to have an array of different styles in our closets, something I believe men should envy us for, so why dress like a man? And why always be underdressed even when the occasion calls for formal or semi-formal?

I must admit that I sound a bit harsh. I am judging all of Madrid according to a reception where the median age was 50. We have to remember that although Madrid is Spain’s capital city, it is not as renowned in fashion as Barcelona or other European cities such as Paris or London. However, walking through the streets of Madrid, there is a positive vibe. I can feel the rich culture surrounding me. The city has many museums and really beautiful architecture. It seems that the city is surrounded by art and is influenced by art. A sort of vibrant and colorful feel all around that reminds us that art is always present and alive in Madrid and visiting many of the boutiques in the city, it appeared to me that this same feeling influences many of the Spanish designers such as Custo or Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada.  In consequence, it has a great influence in the way people in the streets are dressed. The city is full of life and full of colors and so are the clothes.

So, I go back to my initial questions: with such an array of different styles, textures, vibrant colors, why do some women nowadays dress like a man, or even worse (because menswear can also obviously be trendy and elegant), be so underdressed even when the occasion calls for elegance? With such a fast pace world, have we forgotten to take the time to dress? 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Freedom to Fashion

It all started 20 years ago. My mother had just come back from Italy with a suitcase full of designer shoes. I watched her for hours unpack her suitcases and carefully arranging her shoes in her closet, explaining specifically why she had bought so many pairs and how she is planning to mach them with different outfits. My eyes sparkled. I fell in love with the different colors, fabrics, textures, and heels and could not wait to be old enough to buy  my own pairs of designer shoes. Little did I know that the experience of watching my mother unwrapping designer shoes was going to influence not only my passion for fashion forever but the many choices I have made in my life.

For most people, fashion is a trend that is followed blindly. They love a Louis Vuitton bag or Gucci shoes, or a BCBG dress because a celebrity is wearing it, because they watched it on the runway, because magazines say it’s cool to be wearing it or because everyone else is just following the trend. I love fashion because of the creativity behind it, the texture of the fabric that was chosen, the color of the thread for the stitching, and the ingenious mix of different colors and patterns to come up with something unique.

My affair with fashion can be described as an everlasting “coup de foudre.” It is therapeutic, it makes me feel better about myself and it allows me to express myself through clothing and accessories. This interpretation was met by many of my closest friends and family members with skepticism. They often believed that any excuse was good enough for me to go shopping but it is not only about the shopping.

I am an international relations and diplomacy major, a domain that is quite far from fashion design. I initially picked the major because I naively believed I could save the world. While many of my classmates shared the same hopes and dreams, I was one of the few who wanted to do so wearing Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Gucci and Prada. Yes, I admit I do sound shallow but fashion did push me to my field of specialization in IR.

Dressed in a perfect outfit for my first day in college: Burberry cashmere coat, leather Prada shoes and a matching Gucci bag, I was a lost 18 year old little girl that knew nothing of what was going in the world but that sure could dress and color coordinate her outfits. Two years into college and still quite undecided about my major, I started thinking of how clothing could be so liberating, how it helped women express themselves differently and how it reflected different personalities. Then, I began to think of the way women used to dress before and how women’s clothing was revolutionized  and what that meant for women and women’s rights.

 I must admit that one of my biggest inspirations was my grandmother whose dress code was completely different than mine. I therefore decided that for my masters, I would focus on women’s rights. I picked Morocco as my case study because I am from Morocco and it is a country that is very near and dear to my heart. Although fashion was not incorporated in my MA thesis, many of the research I made got me thinking more and more about the correlation between fashion and women’s rights and women’s freedom of expression.

Therefore, this blog is a humble attempt to combine two of my passions: women’s rights and fashion, how women’s rights affect fashion and how fashion can be a major force in attaining women’s rights. Sometimes I will discuss the topics separately, other times jointly. In a way, this blog is my attempt to liberate myself through discussions about fashion. In the words of Coco Chanel “fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”  It is a concoction of our experiences, our feelings, our personality, our culture, and our creativity, and how far we are willing to push our imagination and our limits, how bold we can be in expressing our inner selves through clothing. That is my true definition of fashion and what “fashion to freedom” means to me.