‘Feminist’ fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney should stick to their dresses

Designers need to stop issuing manifestos to go with their frocks

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The Independent Online

A bad week for feminism – and here’s why. In Paris, two titans of the fashion industry used their interpretation of female power as the theme for their summer 2015 collections.

I still naively hope that it would be enough for designers to send out lovely clothes on the catwalk and stop issuing manifestos to go with their frocks, but that message clearly isn’t getting through.

From Miuccia Prada (who at least has an intellect) to Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood and the newest philosopher on the block, Stella McCartney, they’re not happy that you might covet a coat they’ve created – you’ve got to be sold a crap ideology as part of the package. Please!

Stella McCartney sent out baggy, floating outfits, declaring she was “celebrating the softness of a woman and her fragility”, adding “strength on its own in a woman is quite aggressive and not terribly attractive”.

Was Stella encouraging us to look vulnerable, some critics complained loudly, and was this a pop at Beyonce’s vulgar leather bodysuits?

But McCartney’s gauche choice of words was small beer compared to Karl Lagerfeld’s bizarre decision to send his models down a replica of a Parisian street clutching fake “protest” placards, stating his “ironic” take on equal rights – “boys should get pregnant too” and divorce pour tous (divorce for all) and “Free Freedom”. One fashion editor called it “the birth of feminism’s fifth wave” and enthused “it was hard not to feel uplifted”. Pass the sickbag.

Not to be outdone, Vivienne Westwood told InStyle magazine her husband Andreas did most of the designing these days because “men put women on a pedestal and make them look powerful... female designers can make women look girlie and vulnerable”.

The wedding of Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney demonstrated how top designers of both sexes can conspire to make a strong woman look frail.

 

In a series of costly designer outfits, this highly intelligent, successful lawyer was packaged like a doll, teetering in ludicrous shoes on a boat, riding up and down the Grand Canal in an encrusted dress by Giambattista Valli which barely covered her crotch. What version of femininity was Amal espousing by choosing these clothes?

Back in the real world, statistics from the House of Commons library show why women need to be strong and continue to fight – the pay gap has narrowed by just 0.3 per cent a year since 2010 and at the current rate it could take 60 years to achieve equality. Women earn 80p for every £1 a man takes home.

Theresa May, the UK’s most powerful female politician, gave a rousing speech at the Tory party conference, described as “brilliant”, even by those (like me) who think her proposals to ban “extremists” from using social media and the internet are flawed and unenforceable.

Announcing a curb on the heavily abused police powers of “Stop and Search”, May oozed authority and confidence. Sadly, the fashion industry remains stuck in the dark ages when it comes to addressing what it means to be a powerful woman in the modern world.

 

A fiver for proof Osborne did an overnighter in his pink van

Not content with using their wives as props who have to kiss for the cameras, our leaders will go to laughable lengths to show they are just “ordinary” at heart.

George Osborne, privately educated and heir to a fortune, has been dieting (losing an impressive two stone on the 5:2 regime) and had a radical hair makeover. In an interview to coincide with his big speech to the party faithful, Osborne told a journalist that last summer he spent a week touring the Peak district with his son and daughter in a strawberry pink VW camper van. There was even a picture of him with the bemused man he rented it from.

Did anyone actually see millionaire George emerging from this van in his jim-jams during the summer? Is there photographic evidence he spent the night in the van? Just asking – and I’ll happily donate a fiver to the first five people who can email me proof that George’s break involved overnight stays.

Meanwhile, his new brutal look confuses some Tories, who think the Chancellor could be having a mid-life crisis. The new chunky hair cut reminds me of Fred Flintstone – and we know what message that sends out. Caveman alert!

 

Gone are the two and a half hours I devoted to this Girl

I read Gone Girl on holiday last year, and 12 months later could remember nothing about it at all, except it read like a screenplay rather than a novel. Gillian Flynn has adapted her book for David Fincher’s overlong thriller, which opened this week.

I read the other day that one in seven of us routinely hides money from partners – which didn’t surprise me. I’ve always thought that honesty is over-rated in a relationship. Gone Girl is about secrets and how little we might know about the person who is our life partner.

An engrossing film, it offers a few surprises and Rosamund Pike turns in a brilliant performance as the demented Amy, but as you file out of the cinema you feel a bit disgusted with yourself for wasting two and a half hours following two unpleasant people with so little to commend them. Is it a comment on modern marriage? Perhaps, but it’s certainly not a five-star thriller.

 

Is the Co-op really telling us its honesty is fake?

The Co-op told us it was going to re-brand  and win back our trust, following the Paul Flowers “crystal Methodist” scandal involving rent boys, class A drugs and a £1.5bn hole in its finances. Last week, it unveiled a £5.5m campaign to connect with consumers, launching a prime-time TV ad featuring a naked man having the words “Ethics and Values” tattooed on his back. Co-op Man proudly announces: “I belong to an organisation that does things a little differently.” As the Co-op board embarks on a total overhaul, I wonder what chief executive Niall Booker thinks of the ad?

The central character is an actor (we don’t know whether he is a Co-op member) and the tattoo is a fake – so what message does that send out? Honesty is only skin deep?

 

Estonia’s same-sex bravery will not escape Putin’s notice

Next week, Estonia could make history and become the first ex-Soviet country to legalise same-sex partnerships.

At the first reading of the Civil Partnership Act in June, 45 MPs were in favour and 25 against. There is a second reading of the Bill on 7 October and a final vote two days later. Anti-gay protests have been organised for tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday, and feelings are running high.

The Russian border is only three hours from the capital, Tallinn, and the relationship between the two countries has been prickly since Estonia won independence in 1991. Estonia, like Ukraine, has a large minority of ethnic Russians, many of whom support the anti-gay group Foundation for the Defence of Family and Tradition, which receives money from Russian businessmen.

I’ve visited Estonia a few times and have friends in the fast-growing media industry there. I wish them well over the next few days – President Putin is bound to be following events extremely closely.

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