Thursday, May 26, 2011

Social Activism in the Fashion World

Remember, how in my Summer Vacation post, I posted a few photos of Christy Turlington, wearing white in a tropical setting (which was Kenya)? Well, one of the pictures I didn't use was a collage of a few shots of Christy and Kenya:


If you can't see what's written on the bottom left corner, here's what it says:
"Kenyan collage, clockwise from top left: native village on Funzi Island. Keeping cool - in an Isaac Mizrahi sundress, about $1195, Barney's New York... Funzi Island's fishing club floating bar. Mangrove reflections, hot - weather whites - Azzedine Alaia's bodysuit (about $615), and pleated skirt (about $545). Sandbar with birds. Primitive dhow under full sail. Chow bell at Funzi Island fishing club. Classic Tropic look: white silk from Collection by Ralph Lauren. Jacket, about $980; pants, about $450. Bergdorf Goodman, stores, details, etc..."

What you should take from that:
the few outfits in that collage come up to approximately $3785.
(More after the jump.)

That really caught my attention. Compared to a lot of fashion, that isn`t even an insane amount of money, though this editorial was about 20 years ago, meaning the price of those outfits now are a bit higher. I mean, seriously, a pair of shoes or an evening gown can go for that price, and Isaac Mizrahi, Alaia and Ralph Lauren are prominent design houses.
It just seemed...a little weird juxtaposed in an editorial taking place in Kenya, albeit a beautiful editorial. That much money could have done a lot for the people in the area of Kenya where this was photographed, or for Africa and social activism in general.
I'm not saying we shouldn't spend money on expensive clothing because we feel bad about less-developed countries, and social activism is definitely present in the fashion world - take Coco Rocha, for example, who has a page dedicated to her charity endeavours, such as her Letters to Haiti campaign. There are also campaigns to raise money for causes such as eleminating AIDS, and helping out children in countries not as well-off as ours.
That's fabulous; fashion is an industry that's often seen as superficial, while taking an interest in social justice and activism shows that it's not completely.
Is it enough, though?
We may raise money for different causes, but is the meaning counteracted by the fact that we wear thousands of dollars worth of clothes for photoshoots, which can be in less-developed countries?
Are the people in that area given temporary employement opportunities, whether that's helping out with the set or helping the photographer? Or are they snapping photos, sometimes with people from the area in them, without helping them financially whatsoever?
Am I the only one a bit...uncomfortable with the stark contrast between high fashion photography and shooting in a less-developed country?
Or are we really doing enough by just raising money, and who cares about the meaning behind shooting in poorer countries?

Thoughts, anyone?
Laura S.


  1. lovely blog - i love that picture it makes me long for summer

    stop by sometime<3

  2. I love the questions you raise and think more can always be done...

  3. Definitely a strange juxtaposition, but I must admit, the photos and clothes are gorgeous.

  4. Definitely a strange juxtaposition, but I must admit, the photos and clothes are gorgeous.

  5. lovely blog - i love that picture it makes me long for summer

    stop by sometime<3

  6. Oh for sure, it really is a gorgeous photoshoot, I'm just wondering, do we take what can MAKE the photo beautiful for granted? A strange juxtaposition is definitely the right term for it...
    Thanks for the comment! :)
    - Laura

  7. More can ALWAYS be done - I'll definitely be doing research on how photoshoots are carried out when not on a set, but in another country, more specifically a developing country.
    Thanks so much for the comment! :)
    - Laura

  8. The picture makes me long for summer as well, but doesn't the picture also make you think about what's going on OUTSIDE the borders of the picture - who is working on the set, where are they shooting, are they using any local resources?
    Thanks for the comment!
    - Laura