I doth protest…

I doth protest…

I’ve finally had a moment to sit down and gather my thoughts about the Chanel S/S 15 show, a pleasant stroll down Boulevard Chanel that has essentially been overshadowed by the faux-test, fashion riot and co-opting of feminism that has reverbed into discussion threads far longer and more in depth than any other show of the season, nay maybe the year.  I have to thank Instagram for clarifying my thoughts – not through the endless pictures by attendees, which mostly gave the show a big thumbs up and applauded the genius of Karl Lagerfeld – but by commenters on a little slideshow I made of the picket sign and banner waving finale.  I salute you guys for bringing thought provoking discussion without brainless finger pointing to the land of emojis and likes.


I was ready to dissect it all to try and conclude my own initial feelings of unease and confusion when I first saw the show.  Then I went and read some of the reviews that had gone up.  Vanessa Friedmann, of the New York Times, who has been injecting pretty much every review with a political angle, somehow skirted the issue.  Tim Blanks did add context and colour to his review but gave Lagerfeld a pass because he was remembering 1968.   An interesting Twitter convo between Cathy Horyn (your presence is missed…) and writer Max Berlinger had Horyn answering questions from the public about recent shows.  What did she think of the Chanel finale?

“My knickers are not in a twist. It’s a show!” she replied.

That was a nail in my twisted knickered self.  Had I overthought it and gone too deep into my foggy flu-influenced thoughts?  Should I tra-la-la along and laugh it all off as just a bit of fun at a fashion show?



Well, I’ve thought and re-thought.  The feelings throttling about in my feverish head were real.  When waiting for the show to start, I was catching up on what was happening in Hong Kong on The Guardian.  I was thinking about how proud I was that as a sort-of-HK-er, Hong Kong – a city which I had thought was essentially a slave to the $ and consumerism – had galvanised itself and was fighting back for what is a hugely worthy cause.  I was also still slightly perturbed by the fact that on Sunday night, a Chinese “fan” accosted me in a restaurant, accusing me of betraying my “country” because I had tweeted out my support for the pro-democracy protests – did try and tell her that China was, not in fact my country.  I was incensed and perhaps, slightly raging in my own head.

My head looked up.  Then I saw pretty paint-splattered tweed, rainbow silk and ribbon woven in and out, monochrome metallic pin-striping and the continuation of “street-inspired” casualification of Chanel classics.  All good and well.  They walked down the street in pairs, trios or by themselves, with different hair and make-up treatments.  They were individuals walking down a very busy and Chanel-ified street.  Dress however you want was what Lagerfeld seemed to be saying.  Great!































Then at the end of the show, the silence was broken by a faint yelling.  Cara Delevigne led the way with her loudspeaker, as all the models stormed the mock Boulevard with a mock protest.  Karl Lagerfeld, not holding a placard or banner, walked along coyly as if it were a joke and a ruse.  Some waved their banners and placards with half-baked enthusiasm (woe on models who are required to “act” – they mostly don’t have it in them).  Some were having a laugh with it.  Did they know what they were saying?  I doubt it.  Not with slogans like “Féministe mais Feminine”, “Votez for Coco”, “Divorce pour tous”, “Boys should get pregnant too” and “Tweed is better than tweet.”  What do they even mean?  More to the point, why is pointless activism being used to sell clothes, when elsewhere in the world, real isuses are being fought for with blood, sweat and tears?

I’ll quote some Instagram comments to solidify the point as they were so eloquent.

NonsenseonStilettos: This kind of co-opting of protests and the real concerns that have people out on the street, to drive Chanel’s particular brand of selling things, is in poor taste.

ModernNiche: Perhaps it is admiration of protestors past and present but essentially trivialises the real issues to sell clothes (or more likely beauty and fragrance) sold at some of the highest price point.


When the banners got meatier and expressed a more intelligent feminist sentiment – “He for She” (in arch reference to Emma Watson’s UN speech), “Feminism not Masochism” and “Women’s Rights are More than Alright” the shit really hit the proverbial fan.  Whatever Lagerfeld’s true stance on feminism is, it is difficult to believe the conviction of a uniform cast of women, held up to an unrealistic standard of beauty, waving such banners, whilst wearing clothes that are prohibitively expensive.  Why go there, Karl?  To court controversy?  To get more Instagram likes?  I suspect it’s a combination of both.

Lounawt: It mocks any real struggle, it’s the bourgeoisie dressed up as the proletariat.  The presentation of the feminist movement as trendy or as though we have gender equality.

MelissaKateColeman: Feminism is a flat concept if we don’t use it to discuss current gender issues. In fact it distorts the conversation. This is not starting the conversation on feminism.  It’s a conversation what a luxury fashion brand can and cannot do in good conscience.  Just to be clear, if he’d really addressed issues I would have respected it regardless of his questionable past.  Sadly, he was just paying lipservice.


Some have pointed out the fact that Lagerfeld – he of the controversial and often misogynist quotes – is in no position to even promote the cause of feminism.

MoreModelsofColorBullshit.  If you are for all women.  Cast older women, cast more models of colour – four black models is not enough and cast darker black models like Grace Bol, Nykhor Paul, Ataui and Ajak Deng, Ajuma Nasenyana, etc… Cast Indian models, cast more Latinas, cast more Asian models.  Embrace all women.  Have a more diverse cast if you are going to preach about feminism.  Cast plus-size models.  Stop it with racism, white supremacy and all the hypocritical-ness and pretentiousness.


On the flipside,  some, including many big glossy title reviews, did credit Lagerfeld for driving awareness and starting conversations.  I myself had lengthy conversations with fellow editors about the show usually tailing off without any neat conclusion.

SansimAdali: On the contrary I find it beneficial for those who want to make themselves heard.  For example some of you now learned that Turkish women are suffering from gender inequality.  Maybe some of you are now watching Emma Watson’s UN speech #heforshe. I just checked the latest news about #occupyhongkong

I did love all the conversation and discussion that came out of the conversation but what is the final end result – that Chanel gets more bag sales because they “raised” a topic of discussion?

PowItsKim: Awareness isn’t really a valid argument? If there is no follow-up, there is such a great chance of doing more harm than good ultimately.  So he brought up, well, bombarded us with feminism, what are we now to do with that information?  Who is leading this dialogue?  The same skinny white women who are privileged by the system of fashion?

Thud.  There goes that line of defence.


Then there’s the other theory.  Was it all one big satire and was he in fact trolling feminists and political correctness in general?  Or poking fun at fashion designers that take themselves too seriously with their heavy-handed messaging?  Was Lagerfeld in fact acknowledging the real bottom line of why we’re all there to see fashion, which is that we’re all there to flog clothes and anything else is just a diversion?  Then all the discussion is moot and not in fact a positive contribution because they’ve just added to the page views, mentions of Chanel on Google and its search ranking and numbers of #ChanelProtest on social media, which in turn will lead to sales.  Which I’m fine with – that is what brands seek.  We’re all in the game and that’s how it’s played.  That said, it’s the callousness with regard to the real issues of feminism and the struggles going on right this second that makes my head spin.  But yes, what fun!   What larks because Instagram exploded with vids and pics.


And so, yes I have taken it all rather seriously and my knickers are in a big twist, even when I put aside my own personal entanglement with what is going on right now.  It left me in a conflicted position because – and I do want it this to be known – I shamelessly love Chanel.  I love its world and most things it touches with its glossy black, gold-edged, quilted hand.  Chanel’s presence on this blog is a whole-hearted genuine MUAH to the brand without any commercial ties.  Questioning what it does and its impact is demonstrative of how highly I regard it.  This is a house that can affect change if it really wants to.  It can go big on a protest and get behind a solid and genuine cause.  Of course, if Lagerfeld is indeed just poking fun at the idea of fashion effecting change as he did when he prodded the art world in a gallery or made fun of our love of a brand, so much so that we’d try and steal an empty CC-logoed biscuit tin in a fake supermarket, then I have nothing to say to that.  It’s the crème de la crème of all cynical moves that could so easily have been a positive one.


And then my other final final question would be, why all the fuss and the shit-stirring that essentially overshadowed the clothes?  Unlike some of the other Instagram commenters, I quite enjoyed the clobber and when I saw them in the showroom, even more so, because they weren’t hidden by placards or banners.  You saw superb craftsmanship and fabrications of the highest order and just a streamless unfettered indulgence of pretty pretty things (if perhaps a bit unedited).  They’re clothes that could definitely empower a woman but that idea is now dented by the images of those signs.  A woman rich enough to buy Chanel with her own hard earned £/$ will also be smart enough to know when she is being played by a man.  Why couldn’t he just have had all the models walk out with variations on the signs that read “Be your own stylist” and “Be different”- those are strong messages that didn’t get muddled up with all this click-baiting, Instagram trolling and knicker twisting.




Leave a comment
  1. Nicolette

    2014-10-02 at 7:55 PM

    Thank you for such an in depth and nuanced review. I find Lagerfeld’s use of feminism to be pretty disingenuous; he’s certainly not himself a feminist, and the lack of diversity as pointed out above is a testament to that.

    But the clothes, of course, are beautiful. The colors and prints are breathtaking.

    I had a conversation with a friend about this yesterday and how Lagerfeld is often referred to as an evil genius. I think he is- creatively he is brilliant, but there’s also something very sinister about him, and at times he is downright cruel. It’s frustrating to see how he always gets a pass to behave in whatever way he wants.

    • mia

      2014-10-04 at 1:44 AM

      agree! clothes are indeed beautiful, but it’s ironic to scream “revolution” having Cara Delevingne leading the sow. If he were really in favor of female liberation, he could’ve at least had models of all sizes. Again, an example of how “revolution” has become mainstream.

  2. becky : : accooohtrements blog

    2014-10-02 at 7:59 PM

    i hands-down agree with modernniche & thought the same as you: what did it even mean? none of the signs made sense.

    it doesn’t lie easy with me to poke fun at protests when the world seems even more full of turmoil than usual: hong kong, palestine, ebola. “be your own stylist”? ugh.

    but, by the fact we’re all still talking about it, karl has gotten the result he wanted.



  3. laura

    2014-10-02 at 8:09 PM

    Thank you so much for summarising and arguing JUST how I feel about this. I literally mirrored your thought process- the immediate discomfort, then the doubt that I was overreacting and vague bemusement at the editorial response to it, and finally concluding that no, whatever way this was intended, it hit the entirely wrong note for me. I genuinely feel quite disappointed by the messages that have come through during this fashion month, between the glamorising of Barbie in Moschino, Stella’s woefully misguided comments about femininity and this. For me, the fact they coincide with HeforShe only serves to highlight how inadequate much of the public discussion on equality (in all its form) is, especially in much mainstream fashion discourse. Lets hope it does get some thinking going though- like you say, there is a real opportunity here for fashion to show how it can direct positive change.
    Chambray & Curls /

  4. Melissa Joliene

    2014-10-02 at 8:38 PM

    Feminism is about women. Women wear Chanel. If we begin dictating who is allowed the freedom of feminism based on their bank accounts, don’t you think we have shoved out heads in the proverbial sand a bit too deeply? Are we now the new elitests deciding who gets to have a claim to our womanhood?

    The largest growing segments of luxury buyers are based in countries where turmoil currently, and not do distantly, waves an obvious flag. Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe. The other fastest growing segment of luxury buyers are independent women, out pacing men, bringing their own hard won money to the table.

    Watching from the comfort of my computer screen at my independent business and fully vested feminists office, I found it to be a stunt of equal amounts poor taste as it was sheer brilliance. In the end a brands aim is to speak to its customers. Chanel(as is obvious by the general age of the real women attendant of the shows) hits a pocket book of a woman of an average age to have lived through true feminist revolution and change, who could have been one of those daisy wearing, picket sign holding, students of yore. She could have been a trust fund baby in those years or a girl on a scholarship. She might have fought her way through the ranks, or stood by a husband who had.

    Im not sure that marginalizing whoever she might be is in any better taste than what might have been an unfortunate act of play on the part of an artistic genius.

    Regardless of my thoughts on this, I want to applaude you for bringing this subject up in such a manner that allows open discussion on what it means in this day and age of Instagram life journals to be a woman, especially one of feminist values.

    Melissa Joliene
    “fashion nobody”

    • Susie Bubble

      2014-10-03 at 10:14 AM

      You are right in that feminism shouldn’t be off-limits to those who wear and buy Chanel or that fashion and feminism shouldn’t go together. But if you’re correct in what you’re saying, then I think that those women who lived through real feminist change would scoff at this. They knew what it would have been like to hold a real placard and fight for a cause and to have that mocked by a fashion brand with no real attachment or support for the cause would seem dumb. My final point is that Chanel is so big that it can effect change. I wouldn’t put this responsibility on most other brands – that’s because they don’t have the scale that Chanel does. It’s mind boggling. Even a simple statement such as, “We have equal pay regardless of gender at Chanel Ltd.” would have added more credence to what they sent down the runway. I’d have been fine with it if they had done away with the finale. The clothes were great. They didn’t need the hullabaloo. Instead, we got hollow shelled hullabaloo that benefits Chanel, and Chanel alone. Sure they’re speaking to their target market but why bring up the cause if you’re not going to actually get behind it? It mocks the women that you speak of. As for the women from those growing markets? They probably won’t care a jot as long as their bag is of a limited edition.

  5. DinoB

    2014-10-02 at 8:42 PM

    As a student at London College of Fashion, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded with people that think into fashion, not only about it. So, feeling comfortable with a few of them, I asked them about the show. And one thing a friend said really struck me…
    She was talking about how this kind of banalising a serious issue as is human rights goes a long way in the sales and the ‘instagrammable factor’ of the brand that has no Instagram photos but almost 2 million followers.

    Chanel should feel the responsibility of a major brand and choose their battles carefully – mocking a supermarket is one thing, but mocking a great social issue of today is another…. There’s a thin line between genius and geriatric, and I assume Kaiser Karl has just passed it.

  6. sasa

    2014-10-02 at 8:42 PM

    These signs are so cool! I love the Chanel show this time<3


  7. Pat

    2014-10-02 at 9:03 PM

    I have all sorts of things to say about this, but I will have to have a think about where to put them. V interesting post. Good to read a proper consideration of the show.

  8. Riyka

    2014-10-02 at 10:10 PM

    I am so glad I read this, have been thinking about how awkward it made me feel, and it must have been awkward to see it live…I also found that I was loving the clothes, and appriciating the craftsmanship, but the final, in my eyes was just a way of getting the SM knickers in a twist, a brilliant marketing/pr move, but also one that kind of makes me think less of the genius of chanel…
    Sometimes I just wish designers would let the beauty of the clothes do the talking, there is something truly inticing in subtle and clever creativness.
    I am still confused, but thanks for this honest post!

  9. Lilah

    2014-10-02 at 11:07 PM

    Thanks for your thoughtful post. You summarized what I found so distasteful about the whole thing.

  10. Amelia

    2014-10-02 at 11:54 PM

    thank you susie for this review! I thought as a young fashion designer and open feminist that I was looking too deep into this and perhaps should make light of it but the whole thing just made me feel rather uneasy, I have noticed that feminism has become increasing discussed in today’s fashion world, every other ID article brings up the f word and also I noticed a few shows in London that hinted at the issue, Meedham kirchoff and it’s challenging of gender and traditional fashion ideals really highlighted for me that feminism is being taken seriously again and openly being talked about which yes I think is a great thing however how Karl used this faux idea of a protest didn’t sit very comfortable with me was he trying to highlight the moment as a fashion fad? Or using this idea of feminism to get people to buy channel and change it into a state of mind that can simply be acheived by buying clothes, I don’t know but it all seems quite hypocritical and conflicting in messages. I do think it has made people think about what feminism is in this modern day but it seems to me Karl is once again pulling on the puppet strings and laughing in an, Andy Warhol style manner, at the idea of consumerism and what ideas he can sell us through the use of a tweed suit.

  11. nign

    2014-10-02 at 11:58 PM

    I’ve been waiting to see how people react to the show, and am surprised to find that seemingly no one thinks Karl could be satirizing & critiquing *his own clients*, meaning that self-centered, consumeristic women who care not a dent about women’s issues or anybody else often appropriate feminist slogans to further selfish ends. Witnessing that most of the slogans are about self-indulgence and none about protecting or furthering other people’s rights or benefits.

    I kinda sorta think this could be a brilliant piece of interactive social performance art that organically elaborates what “prestige brand” means and can do in today’s society — just wait and see how women who care not a dent about other people’s rights and feelings take up these “Chanel feminist calls” to defend whatever thing she wants to do without trying to understand the least what those calls mean. It’s Chanel, after all, how can it be wrong or needs any “understanding”?

    And that, in turn, could be a brilliant critique of how other brands use “art-like performance” to elevate their brand images on the runway without any real social consequence, making them impotent (faux) art that co-opts art’s form but not its true mission.

    I just think Kaiser Karl is too much of a snob and too smart to be that shallow in his use of “art.”

    • Kazuko

      2014-10-04 at 12:43 PM

      I agree with you. That’s what I felt when I saw the show: ‘The irony…” And I wouldn’t be surprised, too, if this wasn’t exactly what Lagerfeld had intended. Just using the performance to jump on the feminism band wagon and as a cheap means to attract customers – I agree with you: Lagerfeld is too smart for this.

      Also, Chanel is not only Lagerfeld. If you think of Coco Chanel – she might not have considered herself a feminist, but her work did support the liberation of women, didn’t it?

      Thirdly, the whole set-up + the French actually having the reputation as a ‘nation of protesters/demonstrators’… isn’t that ironic?

  12. S B

    2014-10-03 at 12:24 AM

    Thank you for the wonderful post. I couldn’t exactly place my finger on what was bothering me so much, but halfway through your post I realized what it was. The presentation simplified the intricacies of feminism and downplayed the real struggle of feminism around the world into a passing fad.

  13. Liz

    2014-10-03 at 12:56 AM

    it was such an amazing show


  14. Matt

    2014-10-03 at 12:57 AM

    I just have to say, this is the best comment section I’ve ever seen!

  15. Colette

    2014-10-03 at 1:29 AM

    Hey! I just wanted to thank you for pressing the issue of this discussion. Too often are things merely accepted or ignored as being “overly sensitive” or “touchy”. We cannot just be spectators to life, we need to engage with it! And, it’s always refreshing to see balanced, friendly debates rather than blindly glowing reviews. Cx

  16. Monica

    2014-10-03 at 3:23 AM

    “Was it all one big satire and was he in fact trolling feminists and political correctness in general? Or poking fun at fashion designers that take themselves too seriously with their heavy-handed messaging? Was Lagerfeld in fact acknowledging the real bottom line of why we’re all there to see fashion, which is that we’re all there to flog clothes and anything else is just a diversion?”

    Hahah, wishful thinking. Satire (especially the kind of subtle meta-satire you’re theorizing) doesn’t work in fashion, since at the end of the day, the thing on the runway is a product (or at least, advertisement). Even if satire was possible, we all know Karl too well to know that he’s not that deep. This is a guy who criticized Adele for being “great but a little too fat.”

    It actually recalls a lot of the sentiments expressed in this article: http://www.thestylecon.com/2014/01/16/walter-van-beirendonck-just-perpetuating-appropriation-shitstorm/

    • nign

      2014-10-03 at 3:53 AM

      Love the link!

  17. nign

    2014-10-03 at 3:51 AM

    Also, while at first I did find the show tone-deaf and even distasteful, given the situation in Hong Kong, after sleeping on it for a couple days, I decided it’s not.

    Aside from the absence of typical feminist signs that advocate for others’ rights, the “Free Freedom” one is the biggest giveaway and perhaps Lagerfeld’s major critique of those faux feminists. By this I don’t mean that freedom has to be constantly earned with blood as its price, but that practicable, sustainable “freedom” is never completely “free” in the sense of “anything goes, and whatever you want and you do is right,” but needs personal/ institutional responsibility and respect for others’ rights and freedoms as its foundation, and that is precisely why the Chinese government lost its “freedom” to do what it wants in Hong Kong: it has failed to uphold its share of responsibilities in the original bargain, and in the process failed to respect HKer’s rights and freedoms, and because of that, it has lost its right to claim to the world that it’s still free to do what it deems “proper” in there.

  18. Frithaland

    2014-10-03 at 4:08 AM

    Thank you for the review. You’re quite a girl. Such a relief to hear a voice of sanity in the fashion world. I have, just this week been going through my photographs of squatted land and ecovillages and creating textiles with them, not as a cynical PR stunt but to create clothes that generate political discussion. I realised I could do my little part to help buy pushing out politically inspired clothes under the radar of regular media. Clothes have often been used for political ends – the suffragette scarves, green aprons, Katherine Hamnett, punk. I personally have found the Moschino McDonalds collection in similarly bad taste. Riding the 73 to work, seeing obese girls tapping into a phone with a McDonalds fries cover is deeply troubling. It’s the food of the poor. Not only are our revolutions squashed (they ripped the Occupy tents down brutally overnight and closed the peoples library as quickly) but the 1% then poke fun at our efforts to break free. The next thing will be recreating sweat shops on the catwalk. Keep your knickers twisted. You just won all my admiration 🙂

  19. Jeanne

    2014-10-03 at 4:19 AM

    So inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

  20. sgh

    2014-10-03 at 5:29 AM

    Most of the commenters on instagram and here have already underlibed the inportant things, so i just wanted to say well done for speaking up about it on your blog, i can inagine it is not an easy thing ti do.

  21. BR

    2014-10-03 at 9:44 AM

    This is a really important blog post for several reasons.

    It is a reminder of the subjective writing of the vast majority of fashion editors who don’t really speak for themselves, but speak on behalf of a publication.

    It also demonstrates the importance of truly independent blogging and of free speech online, chiming in with Tim Berners-Lee’s (real) protestations for the internet to remain independent. Imagine if large companies like Chanel were able to buy control over content. Would your blog post have been blocked? Probably.

    In writing this I believe you have made a far more powerful protest than Chanel will ever make; and one that will resonate longer than their ugly fake placards. I think this is brave writing.

    If The University of the Arts (amongst others) aren’t on the phone requesting you teach their journalism and media students something (else) is wrong.

  22. Dominique

    2014-10-03 at 10:47 AM
  23. Denise

    2014-10-03 at 11:10 AM

    I’d like to reiterate BR’s comment that your writing is brave. Especially as an invited guest with special access. Though I’m not surprised, it still warrants recognition. There are so many tangents this show has the brain shooting off to, but my first thought that emerged from the swirl, was to wonder how many of the models had any appreciation for the messages they were shouting/displaying? (Or at least for the spirit of them considering how odd and annoyingly cutesy some of them were.) They were being paid to act (and yes as you say, some just don’t have it in them), but how many felt any real passion for the feminist cause? I don’t know the answer. Theirs is a generation that could make a difference and yet we still see headlines where young celebs are spewing the defensive ‘I love men, I’m not a feminist, etc.’ and the media is only too happy to promote the backward message. And a small handful of commenters in this otherwise enlightening thread have completely ignored what’s going on here and posted purely for self-promotion. Some people just don’t want to know. My over-riding feeling about Karl Lagerfeld’s faux-test, is that if you’re going to go there, do it with dignity, wisdom and purity of intention. Or please just don’t. Feminism isn’t a gimmick.

    • Nonsense on Stilettos

      2014-10-03 at 8:06 PM

      Considering the number of models who come from countries where English is not widely spoken and who pick up bits and pieces of it for work, I think wondering if they even knew what the signs said is a valid question.

  24. Mary

    2014-10-03 at 11:30 AM

    Susie – this post is fantastic! This is what true blogging is all about – Articulately writing about & expressing your opinions that you believe to be true instead of (dare I say) ‘selling-out’ to massage a brands’ ego. I’m an interiors & lifestyle blogger and not a fashion blogger however I adore the creativity & visual genius and depth of the fashion world. That said, I believe your points are extremely valid and you make some very intelligent discussion points. For a fashion house (any for that matter) to exclude you for being critical is absurd and should be seen as a opportunity for them to express what was intended by their original concept (and at the very least invite you to the next AW15 show). I believe that events such as these are and the creative world as a whole IS very subjective and as such a healthy debate on concepts and shows should be welcomed especially when so eloquently articulated as above. Well done Susie!

    p.s. – Loved your LFW docu’ for the BBC btw!

  25. MissGhesquiere

    2014-10-03 at 12:58 PM

    I thought the protest was a classic example of Karl’s “instagram mentality”. So much of what he does skates on the surface of a trendy topic (or 10) and then gets distracted by something else. Craftsmanship aside, it bothers me that Chanel collections never have the depth and thought-provoking, game changing-ness of say Prada or Chris Kane even though they have the capacity and money to do so much more.

    Rant aside, I actually thought the clothes were great this time. The confident colours and large tweeds, the easy-to-wear suits and comfortable ensembles were full of personality. This was not a collection for an ornamental woman, nor even the usual street-style bait. The design was a feminist enough statement and a great influence that can trickle down quite effectively.

    Why he had to go and create a mock-protest peppered with signs casually referencing the principal struggles women face in this world today interspersed with stupid and confused slogans about fashion and “femininity” (what is that? why do i need to be feminine?) is beyond me. This was not a feminist runway, the models did not represent a real “boulevard” of women nor do they work in an industry which respects them as human beings but only as lucrative commodities. It was a farce. I do not think that women fighting for their right to be respected around the world would much appreciate a bunch of skinny, white 17 years olds parading around in million pound outfits kind-of-not-really referencing their struggle. I believe that political statements definitely have a place in fashion but they need to be educated, coherent and well presented. To not give proper thought to the way that you wish to reference a political issue amounts to disrespect! If you are so inclined, make a statement and make it powerful. Life-altering struggles are not to be kept “light, fluffy and marketable.” I will DIE if I see a selfie of someone at a protest hashtagging #Chanel because it’s “cool.” I will die.

    • Nonsense on Stilettos

      2014-10-03 at 8:04 PM

      Everything in this comment is spot-on, but the crux of it is the first two sentences – you are right, Karl likes things that are “of the moment”, whether it is a slightly downmarket-looking tv starlet that Anna Wintour likes, or the look of a much-talked-about new musician (see: Amy Winehouse, Paris-Londres 2007), or the hot topic – no pun intended – of global warming (remember the year with the glacier at the show?).

      He’s had the Instagram mentality long before Instagram came along, but while it is easy to shrug and ignore his other fleeting “inspirations”, this particular one just happens to be, as Susie says, a matter of life and death.

  26. Liz Hunter

    2014-10-03 at 4:47 PM

    The clothes are wonderful, lovely to see flat shoes but the parade is simplistic nonsense with nothing to say.
    There is great inequality and faiirness all over the world and shows like this and the supermarket show indicate that Chanel neither knows nor cares about the rest of the world. The inequality that means some people can not feed their children whilst others are flaunting couture clothes obviously doesn’t keep Karl awake at night.
    The supermarket show insulted the poor and the hungry and these placards insult any one who has marched to support a cause or has a political conscience.

  27. Marie

    2014-10-03 at 5:05 PM

    Thank you for this blog post. This was an awesome read…. It’s so hard to find individualism in fashion nowadays… The irony, right ? In any case, with this blog you proved that a girl can love fashion and not only be an individual but also be concious… That is rare & I thank you for that.

  28. Chelsea Fairless

    2014-10-03 at 6:42 PM

    LOVE this post. This was my take on it…….

  29. Nonsense on Stilettos

    2014-10-03 at 7:51 PM

    Once again, Susie, thank you for initiating the discussion.

    The clothes are indeed exquisite, and the collection is one of the best I’ve seen from Chanel in years. And like you said, the gimmick basically means the Chanel show is now the most talked-about show of SS2015…..which is exactly what they would want.

    But I’ve heard people – the Guardian included – claiming that those who aren’t happy with the “protest” on the runway hold that point of view because we don’t think feminism belongs in fashion, or that we think fashion designers should engage with feminism or real-world issues in their work.

    That’s utterly false, not only missing the point but giving it a wide berth – this protest would not have come off as quite so disingenuous and hypocritical, had it come from a designer who didn’t have a history of soundbites putting down women for assorted reasons (usually being too fat). Or if the placard parade had been executed with a touch more respect for the real world. If the likes of Westwood, Kawakubo, McQueen (and now Sarah Burton), Meadham Kirchoff etc, had been the ones to do collections using protests or feminism as a concept, I’d wager that their interpretations of it wouldn’t have been as badly received by us, or as clumsily literal and callous. (not to say that anyone is infallible, but still)

    And I do find Cathy Horyn’s brush-off mystifying, to say the least. “It’s just a show”? I think there is plenty in “just a show” for people’s knickers to legitimately be in multiple knots – lack of racial diversity, demands made on models to compromise their health in order to be thinner than ever, and now, well, this. Though that is exactly the kind of answer I would expect from someone with a keen awareness that this bout of feminism truly is just a “trend” for Chanel.

  30. kirsty

    2014-10-03 at 7:55 PM
  31. Jennifer B

    2014-10-04 at 8:22 AM

    Thank you for this Susie. I’ve enjoyed it all, from the close-up shots of the fabrics to every reader’s responses to your thoughtful piece.

    From Chanel’s point of view I guess they have pulled off a cheeky stunt that has achieved both sales and serious discussion. And the discussion hasn’t challenged their position as a fashion house or made their customers feel uncomfortable about buying their clothes. Their shows will be the stuff of academic discussion for decades.

    Distasteful? Yes. Successful? Sadly, Yes. Yes. Yes

  32. willesden minicab

    2014-10-04 at 10:28 AM

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  33. Dulcie

    2014-10-04 at 2:24 PM

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this show and I applaud you for writing such a bold critique from within a media genre increasingly too afraid to ‘bite the hand that feeds’.

  34. Anmarie

    2014-10-04 at 8:41 PM

    Just one more example of the Flippin’ Fashion Industry (FFI) exhibiting it’s real and palpable contempt for women. Thanks for being honest and saying what many of us feel. We don’t all have a blog megaphone from which to air our thoughts. Equally you are risking the bite of the FFI. Thanks again. Thoughtful honesty is far more stylish than yet another quilted handbag.

  35. MB

    2014-10-05 at 8:38 AM


    Thanks for taking the really up close fabric shots!
    The fabrics are also the best bit at Chanel so it is great to be able to see in such rich detail.

    MB xxx

  36. Fashion Snag

    2014-10-05 at 3:32 PM

    Ahhh, I wish I could see this in person.


  37. Pulsatilla

    2014-10-05 at 6:39 PM

    Thank you, Susie!

  38. Grace

    2014-10-05 at 10:36 PM

    Susie, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your coverage of the Chanel “faux-test” as you so aptly put it. I cover the runway for a mid-sized magazine. I reacted the same way you did, over the vapid, empty-headed slogans and the click-bait type of presentation. I was infuriated. I tried to write the most level-headed – but honest – review that I could. For the first time in covering NYFW, LFW, MFW and PFW in five years for the same magazine, they refused to run my review because it was “too negative” and because Chanel advertises with us. I hate that I have to accept that kind of standard in fashion journalism, but as Lars Svendsen points out in his excellent book “Fashion: A Philosophy” there is *no such thing* as objectivity in fashion journalism. Perhaps that is why so many major publications shied away from negative reviews or even mentioning the protest angle? I don’t know, I am still quite frustrated. But I appreciate immensely that you have spoken up.

  39. Leah

    2014-10-06 at 10:27 AM

    I have little to add beyond the eloquence yourself and others have written here. On the craftsmanship point though – if we’re appreciating the quality and construction, what of the hands that were involved in that? Chanel is an established business, it has a large team of people (I’d wager mostly women) behind it and even if you want to focus on the clothes themselves, there is still much we can discuss within that.

  40. FashionMix

    2014-10-09 at 9:41 AM

    Revolution or not, Chanel still has wonderful clothes. It’s best to just enjoy fashion and not overthink it.

  41. The Provoker

    2014-10-09 at 10:39 PM

    Susie, this was one of my favorite post from you. The fact that you admitted to being ‘tralala-ed’ along initially, to quoting insightful real instagram comments, to questioning its satirical notion, really shows how thought provoking you are (look who’s being a provoker now! Haha). To me, it felt awkward due to confounding factors and a tension between the clothes and the statement. Again, no one would disagree the clothes and accessories were great as they are, crafted with the meticulous attention to detail; but then the finale, perhaps a hype booster which let’s face it, minds as well be one, pulled away from the clothes or the proper statement we as an audience would ‘bestow’ upon the show if it were to end without the protest, but perhaps that wouldn’t have generated as much buzz.

    The slogans just had to be relatively ‘current’, and have Chanel key words woven in to make it ‘Chanel’, because let’s face it, votez pour coco or boys should also get pregnant doesn’t really have a point when they’re so taken out of context. In the end of the day, I’m just morbidly curious to see how much women would actually both metaphorically and literally ‘BUY’ into this and how much sales get generated by women who feel empowered (more than they already do) when they buy Chanel. For me, I just take it as they are, well crafted pieces with an underlying subtext I too find ironically amusing.

  42. Sakke Hytönen

    2014-11-11 at 11:19 AM

    Why are you paying attention only on “him”? You are talking only about Karl. He’s only the designer (yes, i know i can’t call Karl being only designer). But it’s not his show. It’s a Chanel show and Coco herself was the greatest of feminist after all. You are only scratching the surface on this blog. Did you notice the feminism in the other shows. The 60s and 70s looks are straight from Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and so on. The feminists, i mean. This Chanel finale was only one way of showing the trend of the day. Highlighting it even too much to get the message through. You need to go deeper with this, Susie.

    • stylebubble

      2014-11-11 at 11:29 AM

      Problem being – should feminism even be a “trend”? You talk about me scratching the surface… to summate the work of Steinem in a fashion show… does that not seem ludicrous?

    • Sakke Hytönen

      2014-11-11 at 12:44 PM

      I mean finding inspiration from the origins of feminism is clearly something happening right now. And Karl is great on doing what he is best at…business. Once again he found a way of taking something that Coco was a pioneer at and turned it into a business. After all, like you said, that’s his job. So, he did great…right?

    • Sakke Hytönen

      2014-11-11 at 12:58 PM

      Also…it was truly nice to read your thoughts. I just think there is another level in that finale as well. And still clearing my own thoughts about it, hahaa!

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