Dolly Faibyshev/World Water Day
At his fall 1998 show, when Isaac Mizrahi presented a model in a red satin ballgown and a matching BabyBjörn baby carrier (with the baby inside), it seemed like a political statement about motherhood and how it should be part of a elegant life.
That feeling came to mind again on Friday while watching Collina Strada’s tempting and timely show, where Hillary Taymour demonstrated her own power of inclusion by showing a pregnant model, a mother with a baby in her arms, athletes, curvy women , women with different abilities and other incredible individuals.
At least this time it was a designer who did it.
“I’m very passionate about the ‘Women Dressing Women’ exhibit that we are so lucky to be in,” Taymour said of the Costume Institute exhibit now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I really just want to put my energy out there this season, especially with the wars. “If women were in charge, none of this would be happening.”
When it came to clothes, the general theme was Collina Strada going to the gym, which culminated in all kinds of fun things (the brand is fun, after all, and that’s a big deal in fashion). Standouts featured hand-painted, padded rubber “muscle shirts,” ruched “muscle” minidresses with puffed sleeves, and padded sweatshirts with “Collina Gym” logos (and clever shortcuts to power dressing). Some models marched down the catwalk flexing their arms and others lifted pumpkin dumbbells.
Taymour encouraged the push-up. “I feel like her beauty is underrated,” she said of the kind of powerful arms former first lady Michelle Obama flaunted. “Do you know how much a woman has to work to get that body like a man? It’s very much a metaphor for life,” she said, sounding a bit like a “Barbie” monologue.
The concept of power was overlaid with the brand’s core animal prints, which feel good, like real animals; dip-dyed velvet or tartan garments; padded coats; cargo pants and t-shirts, all with an artsy, grunge appeal. One Ugg collaboration included cropped boots (made with a leather alternative for the first time in the brand’s history, thanks to Taymour’s dedication to animal rights) rendered with painterly patterns of flora and fauna.
“With the recession, everyone is trying to be calm and safe. That’s not for me. And why would I try to be something I’m not? she said, handing over a pair of plain-colored velvet suits.
Taymour is one of the most original voices of her generation in American fashion and she is a woman. There is hope in that, even if there are still limitations. “We need more leaders in the female sphere because they still don’t let us make a difference. They are telling us to shut up and put ourselves in a corner,” she said. At least there are those who are still willing to fight.