Fashion designers are often asked why they don’t opt for more realistic looking models to wear their creations on runways. Inspired by the catwalk of Elie Saab, featuring dreamy gowns and an enchanted forest, my question is: Is fashion supposed to be a fairytale? Is it our way of escaping from reality? Catwalk models seem unreal — unreachable. They create an image that is not achievable for the average person. But should we berate them for this or it that exactly why they exist? And does our current stride towards body acceptance and self love have a place for these traditional catwalks and their models?
Saab herself uses the hashtag #chasingadream to describe her Spring/Summer 2015 collection and I have to admit that I was transported to a daydream when watching the catwalk video on her site. Those dresses and african print t-shirts are stunning — they are works of art. And maybe that is how we should enjoy them. Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that I would never, ever be able to pay for one of these gowns, I couldn’t help daydreaming myself walking into a Hollywood party wearing one and turning heads. Then that voice in my head said, “You’d look like a cupcake if you wore that with your short, stumpy legs; you’ll never have a figure like that.” Perhaps, though, we need to categorize things in our head in such a way to have a clear idea of what is art and what is clothing design. Clothing design that is intended to be worn by real live people should have catwalk shows that reflects the average person on the street. On the other hand, there should be a place for these towering works of art.
Catwalk shows provide one very restricted image of how people should be shaped, so if I put on my body-acceptance-hat, I feel like something needs to change in that area. Of course, these dresses would look ridiculous on someone with my short legs; but that is because in this moment, fashions designers create their art with one very specific shape in mind. But if they would take a step towards the reality that people come in all shapes and sizes and start designing for models of all shapes and sizes, would their dresses be less beautiful?
When I put on my art-lover-hat and consider these dresses as pieces of magic from a fantasy world, I fall head over heels in love with them and the size of the canvas is no longer relevant because it is about the fairytale art. So, I don’t know. Maybe reality is — ultimately — not always relevant on the catwalk.
First published on Bustle Feb 2015
Images: Elie Saab; Flickr/tori wright; Carolco Pictures; Twitter