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

Sign up here to get TIME for Parents, a free weekly email with all the most essential and insightful parenting stories of the week.

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Style

Here’s Proof That #TheDress is Black and Blue

Sorry, #TeamWhiteAndGold

If you’re still rubbing your eyes over the dress that has social media baffled, here’s definitive proof that it is indeed black and blue, not white and gold:

The photo of the controversial frock (dubbed #TheDress on social media) went around the Internet Thursday night and Friday morning, polarizing viewers into two categories: those who saw it as white and gold and those who saw it as black and blue. It seems those in the former category have been tricked by the odd lighting of the photo (and maybe even by the physiology of their eyes) as the dressmaker has confirmed that it is royal blue with black lace stripes.

Read next: Taylor Swift Says The Dress is Black and Blue

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Music

Watch Taylor Swift’s Spooky New ‘Style’ Music Video

See the new clip from 1989

She’s been teasing it on her Instagram and Twitter accounts all week, but now the full music video for Taylor Swift’s “Style” has arrived. The video was slated to debut on Good Morning America Friday, but leaked early on Canadian website MuchMusic. Compared to the dance-heavy “Shake It Off” and the Gone-Girl-esque “Blank Space” videos, “Style” is an elegant but relatively uneventful clip. On the bright side, that should free up some brain power that you can devote to determining whether its title and lyrical references to long hair are actually about Harry Styles. (But let’s hope T-Swift’s not that obvious with her songwriting.)

Read next: Taylor Swift Made This Break-up Playlist for a Recently Dumped Fan

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

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.

TIME Style

Celebrate 80 Years of Briefs With 13 Vintage Photos of Men’s Underwear

The first men's briefs were sold on Jan. 19, 1935

Women’s clothes have a — mostly deserved — reputation for being more complicated than men’s. Accordingly, the cultural, social and business histories behind their garments can be fascinating. (Did you know that nylon stockings were once available only in Delaware?)

But that doesn’t mean that the basics of Western menswear don’t have stories of their own. Take, for example, the humble item that has, for 80 years, been the foundation of many an outfit: briefs.

It was Jan. 19, 1935, that the first briefs were sold, in Chicago. According to Shaun Cole’s The Story of Men’s Underwear, Arthur Kneibler of Cooper’s Inc, an underwear company, used an image of a French bathing suit as the model for a new kind of supportive, elastic underwear. Kneibler and his colleagues dubbed the item the Jockey — which would later become the name of the company — in order to conjure images of a jock strap, an athletic undergarment that would have been known to their customers. The item was first displayed in a window at Marshall Field and Company, along with that season’s new undershirt. The item was an immediate success, and Cooper’s added the “y-front” fly opening a few months later.

If that’s not enough proof that the history of men’s underwear is fascinating, take a look at these 13 vintage photos of skivvies from the pre- and post-briefs eras.

TIME beauty

There May Be 50 Shades of Red but Only Marsala is the Color of the Year

“Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal.”

A marsala shade of red will be the in color next year across fashion, makeup and interior design.

So says the design consultancy firm Pantone, which picked Marsala as the Color of the Year.

“Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness,” Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a statement. “This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.”

Pantone, which is owned by X-Rite, the maker of color-matching products, has named a Color of the Year since 2000. Last year it was radiant orchid, and the year before it was emerald.

TIME fashion

Watch a Century of Hairstyles in Just One Minute

It's like the DeLorean in Back to the Future — but with curlers

A new video by Cut transforms a model through different hairstyles from 1910 to 2010 in just 60 seconds.

The time-lapse clip has quickly gone viral with more than 1 million hits since going live on Nov. 20. And if the comments below the post are anything to go by, we now have definitive proof that hair in the 1980s was a fashion abomination.

Read next: This Woman Can Sing Two Notes at Once and It’s Eerily Beautiful

TIME Style

Sarah Jessica Parker’s Shoe Line to Launch in Dubai

Sarah Jessica Parker
Nigel Waldron—Getty Images Sarah Jessica Parker.

The "Sex and the City" star is set to appear in the United Arab Emirates promoting her shoe line's international debut

Sarah Jessica Parker is perhaps taking a cue from her Sex and the City alter ego and heading to the United Arab Emirates with her shoe line.

But while Carrie Bradshaw visited Abu Dhabi in the franchise’s second film (which was panned by critics), Parker is preparing to launch her SJP Collection in Dubai, marking the line’s debut in the international market. The collection will be available from Dec. 3 and Parker will be making appearances at Harvey Nichols on Dec. 7 and Bloomingdale’s on Dec. 9 to promote the line.

Parker created the shoe collection with the CEO of Manolo Blahnik, George Malkemus. The shoes, which are already available to buy in the US, are identifiable by the signature strip of grosgrain ribbon on the back of every heel.

[The National]

TIME Opinion

Confessions of a Lumbersexual

Jordan Ruiz—Getty Images

Why plaid yoga mats and beards are the future

Several years ago I was riding in a van with two female friends in the front seats when one of them pointed out the window and yelled “Wait! Slow down…is that him?” We were passing the bar that employed her ex-boyfriend.

“I don’t know,” said her friend who was driving. “A guy in Brooklyn with a beard and a plaid shirt? Could be anyone.”

I looked down over my beard at my shirt and both girls looked at me and we all laughed.

I’ve had a beard most of my adult life and my wardrobe is comprised largely of cowboy cut, plaid shirts and Wrangler blue jeans. On cold days I wear a big Carhartt coat into the office. In my youth in Oklahoma I did cut down some trees and split firewood for use in a house I really did grow up in, but in those days I dressed like a poser gutter punk. I nurture an abiding love for outlaw country and bluegrass, though, again, during my actual lumberjacking days it was all Black Flag, Operation Ivy and an inadvisable amount of The Doors.

After a decade living in urban places likes Brooklyn and Washington, I still keep a fishing rod I haven’t used in years, woodworking tools I shouldn’t be trusted with, and when I drink my voice deepens into a sort of a growl the provenance of which I do not know. I like mason jars, and craft beer and vintage pickup trucks. An old friend visiting me a few years ago commented, as I propped a booted foot against the wall behind me and adjusted the shirt tucked into my blue jeans, that I looked more Oklahoma than I ever did in Oklahoma.

I am a lumbersexual.

The lumbersexual has been the subject of much Internet musing in the last several weeks. The term is a new one on me but it is not a new phenomenon. In 2010 Urban Dictionary defined the lumbersexual as, “A metro-sexual who has the need to hold on to some outdoor based ruggedness, thus opting to keep a finely trimmed beard.” I was never a metrosexual and I’m actually most amused by Urban Dictionary’s earliest entry for lumbersexual, from February 2004: “A male who humps anyone who gives him wood.” But I do think defining the lumbersexual as a metrosexual grasping at masculinity gets at something.

It doesn’t take a lot of deep self-reflection to see that my lumbersexuality is, in part, a response to the easing of gender identities in society at large over the last few decades. Writing for The New Republic nearly 15 years ago, Andrew Sullivan observed “many areas of life that were once ‘gentlemanly’ have simply been opened to women and thus effectively demasculinized.” The flipside of this happy consequence of social progress is a generation of men left a bit rudderless. “Take their exclusive vocations away, remove their institutions, de-gender their clubs and schools and workplaces, and you leave men with more than a little cultural bewilderment,” writes Sullivan.

If not a breadwinner, not ogreishly aggressive, and not a senior member in good standing at a stuffy old real-life boy’s club, what is a man to be?

On the other hand, the upending of gender norms frees men in mainstream culture to do things verboten by a retrograde man-code once enforced by the most insecure and doltish among us. We carry purses now (and call them murses, or satchels, but don’t kid yourselves fellas). We do yoga. That the ancient core workout is so associated with femininity the pop culture has invented the term “broga” only goes to show what a sorry state masculinity is in. The lumbersexual is merely a healthier expression of the same identity crisis.

Which is, I think (?), why I dress like a lumberjack (and a lumberjack from like 100 years ago, mind you; real lumberjacks today, orange-clad in helmets and ear protection, do not dress like lumbersexuals). As a 21st-century man who does not identify with the pickup artist thing or the boobs/cars/abs triad of masculinity on display in most 21st-century men’s magazines (Maxim et al), is not particularly fastidious or a member of any clearly identifiable subculture and who is as attracted to notions of old-timey authenticity as anyone else in my 20s-30s hipster cohort (all of you are hipsters get over it), I guess this is just the fashion sense that felt most natural. I am actually fairly outdoorsy, in a redneck car-camping kind of way. Lumbersexuality just fit right, like an axe handle smoothed out by years of palm grease or an iPhone case weathered in all the right places to the shape of my hand.

There is a dark side to this lumbersexual moment however. It’s an impulse evident in Tim Allen’s new show Last Man Standing. Whereas in the 1990s, Tim the Tool-Man Taylor from Home Improvement was a confident and self-effacing parody on the Man Cave, complete with silly dude-grunting and fetishizing of tools, Mike Baxter, played by Tim Allen in Last Man Standing, is an entirely un-self-aware, willfully ignorant reactionary. The central theme of the show is Baxter in a household full of women struggling to retain his masculinity, which is presumed to be under assault because of all the estrogen around. He does this through all manner of posturing, complaining and at times being outright weird. In an early episode, Baxter waltzes into the back office at his job in a big box store modeled off Bass Pro Shops and relishes in the fact that it “smells like balls in here.” The joke is a crude attempt at celebrating maleness but it rings distressingly hollow to anyone who has spent any time in rooms redolent with the scent of actual balls. In later seasons the show softened but the central concern of a man whose masculinity is under assault because he is surrounded by women speaks to this moment in our popular culture.

If my beard is a trend-inspired attempt to reclaim a semblance of masculinity in a world gone mad then so be it. Beats scrotum jokes.

TIME russia

The Words and Wisdom of Former Russian Agent Anna Chapman

Former Russian spy Anna Chapman presents her own clothing line composed of 100 pieces at 17th Dosso Dossi Fashion Show on Jan. 11, 2014 in Antalya, Turkey.
Suleyman Elcin—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Former Russian spy Anna Chapman presents her own clothing line composed of 100 pieces at 17th Dosso Dossi Fashion Show on Jan. 11, 2014 in Antalya, Turkey.

From undercover to Twitter

Anna Chapman, the former Russian spy who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was deported to Russia as part of a prisoner swap, refuses to fade into obscurity.

She sends regular tweets to her 17,000 followers ranging from the US author Max Lucado: “You change your life by changing your heart” to the Greek philosopher Aristotle: “The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet”.

Chapman, 31, the daughter of an alleged KGB officer was arrested by New York police in 2010 and accused of being part of a network of sleeper agents. She was deported in a spy swap with nine others, and welcomed back to Russia by Vladimir Putin.

She has maintained a robust Twitter presence in recent years, posting aphorisms by a wide range of variably inspiring individuals from Socrates to Bruce Lee to Napoleon Bonaparte. Here are some of her tweets.

This maxim is good advice… for a spy.

This one, not so much.

And this one is an Anna glamour shot.

Earlier this year, Chapman started her own fashion brand of “casual clothes” at the Turkish resort of Antalya, hiring young designers from Russian fashion colleges. Launching the line at the Dosso Dossi Fashion show 2014, Chapman is said to have wanted to produce clothes “you could wear anywhere, form a big city to a backwater village.”

The fashion line includes women’s handbags that look like books by radical Russian writers of the 19th century, including Alexander Herzen and Nikolay Nekrasov.

 

 

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser