TIME Opinion

The Problem With Dolce and Gabbana’s Motherhood-Themed Runway Show

Dolce & Gabbana - Runway RTW - Fall 2015 - Milan Fashion Week
Catwalking/Getty Images Models walk the runway at the Dolce & Gabbana Autumn Winter 2015 fashion show during Milan Fashion Week on March 1, 2015 in Milan, Italy.

The designers' Milan Fashion Week show celebrated mothers — but not in the way our culture needs

Mother’s Day arrived early this year in Italy, where Milan Fashion Week is currently taking place. Sunday’s Dolce and Gabbana show, named “Viva la mamma!,” was entirely dedicated to celebrating motherhood. A handful of models walked the runway with their children and babies, while “Mama” by the Spice Girls played. Model Bianca Balti, heavily pregnant with her second child, even walked in the show. Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have said the show was an homage to their own mothers.

The collection on display matched the mother-loving theme: ultra-feminine shapes — think full skirts and cinched waists — with loads of lace and florals. Many of the garments were emblazoned with the word “Mamma” or had children’s drawings printed across them, in the same vein as Angelina Jolie’s wedding veil.

It’s hard to deny the actual collection is stunning, but the idea of the show itself left me cold. Celebrating motherhood is all well and good, but this display was an entirely shallow endorsement of women that smacks of a gimmick. The theme might be sweet and largely inoffensive — after all, who doesn’t love moms? — but it also stuck to a particularly narrow definition of mothers. In D&G’s world, motherhood is the most limiting archetype of all, where women are radiant and impossibly beautiful, but not truly sexual.

Of course, it was nice to see a shape on the runway that falls outside the runway norm and isn’t pin-thin. One of the most justified and enduring criticisms of the fashion world is its reliance on ultra thin and, in some cases, unhealthy bodies. So props to Dolce and Gabbana, who asked Balti, clad in a form-fitting pink dress, to walk the runway. Alas, Balti was the only one on the runway who offered anything different, size-wise. (And, as others have pointed out, the models were mostly caucasian.) The rest of the models — even the new mothers — shared the typical model dimensions we’ve come to expect from fashion week.

But there’s a destructive side to flashily incorporating mothers-to-be and new mothers in a fashion show. In many ways our culture fetishizes mothers — and pregnancy — and the fashion and beauty industries are no different. Many women’s magazines and fashion websites have dedicated plenty of space to cataloging pregnant celebrities and their growing “bumps.” The very same publications devote even more attention to those women’s bodies after they give birth, either celebrating the return of a “pre-baby body” or tracking the struggle to bounce back to a so-called ideal.

Unfortunately, much of our culture’s focus on new motherhood and pregnancy ends up revolving around women’s bodies and how they look. That context is hard to separate in a fashion show — which displays women’s clothing on women’s bodies — that also tries to honor motherhood, no matter how well-intentioned.

Read next: World’s Most Famous Baby Photographer on the Power of Motherhood

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TIME fashion

This Belt Makes It Easy to Charge Your Phone on the Go

XOO-Belts-Angle-1
XOO XOO Belts

You will still need to plug your belt in before wearing to charge the battery

According to a survey late last year, the biggest complaint people had about their smartphones was that they just wouldn’t stay charged. And even though plenty of bars, restaurants and other places people with smartphones gather have installed charging stations, no one really wants to be that person standing in the corner waiting for a little more phone juice on a Friday night. Enter XOO: a company making belts with a built-in battery so your phone is never in danger of dying.

Like seemingly every small but incredibly useful technological innovation over the last year, the XOO belt ran a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this winter, raising almost $78,000. They also recently partnered with British design house Casely-Hayford for a more fashionable take on their wearable charging station.

The tech in the belts isn’t drastically different from other mobile charging stations or phone cases; it just looks a lot more attractive. The designers actually stitched a battery into the leather, which charges the phone. That does mean that you’ll have to remember to plug your belt in—the battery needs to be charged in order to power your phone. But just remember to do that, and it’s smooth sailing.

According to their preliminary testing, the belts take about two and half hours to charge an iPhone 6, which is similar to the time it takes if the phone is plugged into the wall. All this is good news for anyone who has ever uttered the phrase, “My phone is about to die.”

The belts are available for preorder on the XOO site right now, with an expected ship date of July 2015.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

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TIME Parenting

A Different Way of Talking to Kids About What They’re Wearing

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MGP—Getty Images

For parents, talking to kids about clothes usually involves questioning the warmth, propriety, cleanliness or sanity of what they’re wearing. But there’s another, less familiar — and possibly more useful — way to discuss an outfit.

Kelsey Timmerman, author of Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories and People That Make Our Clothes, wanted to see where his clothes came from. Reading the label on his favorite T-shirt took him to Honduras, where he met workers at the factory that made it. Trips to Cambodia, where his favorite jeans were made, and China, the source of most flip-flops, followed. “It doesn’t come from somewhere,” he says. “But from someone.”

Talking to kids about where their clothes came from can make something abstract — life in other countries — more concrete. And it’s a fun way to engage kids of all sorts of ages in a discussion about the world.

Timmerman and his elementary-school daughter have a bedtime tradition of looking at where her clothes are made. “It’s a simple act, just looking at the label, and letting your mind open up to think, these pajamas came from Bangladesh, which is on the other side of the world,” Timmerman says. “You’re never too young to be amazed by that, and explore what it means.”

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Middle-school students “can go a little deeper,” Timmerman says, using the labels on their clothes as an opportunity to learn about the demographics of other countries. Parents can ask questions like “How do you think life is different than it is here?”

High school students, Timmerman finds, are ready for conversations about the deeper implications of global commerce, like child labor, and the big differences in income between different countries. A great conversation-starter there, he says, is photographer Peter Menzel’s Material World, which shows families from different countries photographed with all their possessions.

Students can sometimes feel powerless when they confront these realities, so Timmerman says it’s important to let them know they can make a difference. In the past, schoolkids have helped bring fair-trade practices to athletic gear and school uniforms. “Students,” says Timmerman, “have really led the way on a lot of these issues.”

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TIME fashion

Those Huge ’90s Jeans Might Be Making a Comeback

Burn your skinny jeans

Remember those enormous JNCO jeans that look like circus tents for your legs? They’re ba-ack!

JNCO, the brand that made the super-wide-leg iconic in the ’90s, is launching a comeback campaign, Women’s Wear Daily reports. Apparently, the company listened to the nine supporters who signed a Change.org petition to bring back the ugliest pants in the world. Along with new design, the company is also bringing back its signature pants in the “heritage collection,” according to NYMag.

The company calls itself “the original lifestyle brand that became the foundation of the ’90s youth generation,” which just proves that everything old is new again.

TIME fashion

Watch How Iran’s Beauty Trends Have Evolved Over 100 Years

A model transforms ten times in just one minute

In just one minute, a model transforms to reflect the changing beauty trends in Iran over the last 100 years.

But the evolution doesn’t only reflect Iran’s hair trends, but its history — from the 1936 hijab ban to the headscarf’s reemergence to the recent Green Revolution.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.09.07 PM

This is Cut Video’s third installment of its “100 Years of Beauty” series. The first two videos look at American trends for both white and black women in the last century.

Read next: Bye, Bye, Barbie: 2015 Is the Year We Abandon Unrealistic Beauty Ideals

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TIME Retail

Kanye West Wants To Be ‘The Steve Jobs of Gap’

Kanye West At the 2014 Cannes Lions
Didier Baverel—WireImage Kanye West attends the 2014 Cannes Lions on June 17, 2014 in Cannes, France.

He thinks he's the one man who should have all that power

Back before he was launching fashion lines, Kanye West was a lowly Gap retail employee who smoked weed on his work breaks. Now? He wants to be the creative director of the well-known clothing chain.

“I’d like to be the Steve Jobs of Gap,” West said in an interview with Style.com shortly after he debuted his Adidas Originals collection last week. “I’m talking about full Hedi Slimane creative control of the Gap is what I would like to do. And I can say this because it doesn’t conflict with my Adidas contract.”

In the interview, West talks about his desire to bring his fashion to the masses. The rapper has been working in the fashion world for several years and complained very, very loudly about how the powers that be wouldn’t let him get his ideas out. With Adidas, he thinks he has a chance to bring his apparel to a wider audience. Certainly Gap, with its thousands of retail locations, could extend that vision even more. And with the company having just posted a 9% decline in January sales at Gap stores, maybe it could use a bit of shaking up.

Once West is through eclipsing Steve Jobs, he’ll only have Walt Disney, Howard Hughes and William Shakespeare left to topple.

TIME beauty

Unretouched Photo of Cindy Crawford Leaks Online

An apparent image of the supermodel in lingerie is generating a lot of online discussion about what “real” women look like

An unretouched photo of 48-year-old supermodel Cindy Crawford has leaked online, reigniting the social-media debate about photoshopping women’s bodies.

The photo, which was initially attributed to an upcoming issue of Marie Claire, is actually a leak from a 2013 cover story of Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America. “No matter where the photo came from, it’s an enlightenment,” Marie Claire writers wrote in a web post about the leaked photo. “We’ve always known Crawford was beautiful, but seeing her like this only makes us love her more.”

Social-media commentators are rallying around the leaked photo as a way to celebrate natural aging.

Crawford has not yet made any public statement about the leaked photo, but she did share some thoughts on aging gracefully. “I really think — at any age — it’s learning to be comfortable in your own skin,” she told Marie Claire at the premiere of her new documentary, Hospital in the Sky. “For me, that’s doing the kind of work I like, being in a good relationship, being the kind of mother I want to be — and taking care of myself.”

TIME celebrities

See Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss on the Cover of Vogue

Mikael Jansson—Vogue Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift on the March 2015 cover of Vogue

Plus a BFF photo-shoot

Not all best friends get to pose together on the cover of Vogue — but Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss aren’t like normal best friends.

Their Vogue photo shoot is full of painfully beautiful images of the most aspirational type of female friendship: cuddling in the sunlight, baking cookies and strumming on a guitar, taking selfies in a convertible, all wearing impossibly gorgeous couture.

“People had been telling us for years that we needed to meet,” Swift tells Vogue. “I remember makeup artists and hair people going, ‘God, she and Karlie would be best friends.”

Once they were introduced by model Lily Aldridge, the chemistry was instant. “We were just like, ‘You. My friend. Now,'” Swift says.

So what are they doing for Galentine’s Day?

TIME fashion

Adhesive Bras: The Fashion Trend That Never Quite Stuck

One man's attempt to solve the problem of tan lines with a ridiculous fashion innovation

“For 5,000 years clothes have been draped, tied, buttoned, pinned and buckled on the human form. This year, for the first time in history, they will be glued on.” Imagine the glee LIFE’s female readers must have felt at the news that a man had designed yet another contraption into which to wriggle their bodies for the sake of beauty.

The design du jour, featured just ahead of beach season in May 1949, was a pair of bra cups a woman could affix to her breasts with an adhesive that caused neither pain nor sticky residue when removed. The purpose of the invention, which looks like the anachronistic love-child of Madonna’s cone bra and your grandmother’s lace doily collection, was to allow a sunbather to achieve an even suntan. The idea struck inventor Charles L. Langs when he witnessed his wife Mary fidgeting discontendtedly with the straps of her regular old swimsuit.

Langs, a Detroit industrialist who worked in the auto industry, spent four years perfecting Posĕs (pronounced “pose-ease”). He enlisted the help of chemist Charles Watson to develop an adhesive that could be removed easily while still sticking tight, “even though the wearer dives from a 10-foot board.” Any woman who has jumped into a pool wearing a strapless bathing suit top will surely dismiss this claim as bombastic. Had it been true, it would have been a feat too miraculous to vanish into obscurity, as Posĕs unfortunately did.

The innovation Langs boasted was not the straplessness of Posĕs, but their adhesiveness. As evidenced by the “bikini girls”—a fourth century Sicilian mosaic depicting bandeau-wearing athletes—women have employed strapless chest support for millennia.

To Langs’ credit—or discredit, depending on whether you see brassiere technology as functional or oppressive—adhesive undergarments are still around today. Most take the form of foam or silicon cups worn with backless tops and dresses with plunging necklines. They are generally, however, meant to be worn beneath other garments, whereas Posĕs were the main event. They gave any woman who donned them, LIFE wrote, “a startling look, especially when she is seen from the rear.”

Silly as the design may look, Langs was a pioneer among a group of crusaders that continues to fight an uphill battle. As the New York Times punnily headlined a 2006 article about the strapless bra, the undergarment is “An Annual Letdown.” No matter the innovations to come—and come, they surely will—it is, in the end, a fight against gravity.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Style

The White Dress That Changed Wedding History Forever

Royal Couple
Rischgitz—Getty Images Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their return from the marriage service at St James's Palace, London. Original Artwork: Engraved by S Reynolds after F Lock.

175 years ago, Queen Victoria introduced a new era of bridal standards

Wedding traditions may have relaxed in recent decades, but one thing stays the same: the bride wears white. Sure, there are plenty of options out there for the iconoclasts among us. But as of last year, colored gowns accounted for only 4 to 5% of sales at popular retailer David’s Bridal.

Like any number of traditions, the white wedding dress comes to us straight from the Victorian era—in fact, from Queen Victoria herself, who was married to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on this day, Feb. 10, 175 years ago. Yet when she chose white silk-satin for her wedding, the choice was almost as iconoclastic as it would have been for Catherine Middleton to walk down the aisle in scarlet.

Red was in fact a very popular color for brides in Victoria’s day, but the young queen broke with the status quo and insisted on a lacy white gown. Members of the court thought it much too restrained in color, and were mystified that she eschewed ermine and even a crown, opting instead for a simple orange blossom wreath.

Victoria was not the first royal to choose white for her nuptials—several others, including Mary Queen of Scots in 1558, preceded her—but she is the one widely credited with changing the norm. Just a few years after her wedding, a popular lady’s monthly called white “the most fitting hue” for a bride, “an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”

Alongside purity and simplicity, Victoria’s gown telegraphed two other important values. She supported domestic commerce by using only British-made materials (a tradition repeated, partially, by Catherine Middleton), and she showed economy by keeping pieces of her dress in her wardrobe for years to come (as most of her contemporaries would have done as well, often simply wearing their best dress on their wedding day, no matter the color or style). Victoria repurposed the lace from her dress again and again, even resurrecting it for her Diamond Jubilee 56 years later.

Today’s brides may not share this thriftiness, but they do take after Victoria in style. With its fitted bodice and full, floor-length skirt, the typical contemporary wedding gown looks a lot more like Victoria’s dress than it does like anything else in the bride’s wardrobe.

Could a modern-day celebrity set such a lasting precedent for bridal fashion? It’s possible, but hard to imagine where such influence would come from. Even Madonna wore white to both of her weddings.

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