Fashionably Political

Art is the creative expression of one’s emotions through a specific medium. Its primary intention is to promote and commemorate the life of an artist and their values. There is a vast variety of mediums that are categorized as art, one of which is fashion. Fashion designers spend months working on designs hoping to stun the world with their unique and, hopefully, trendsetting ideas. One of the biggest ways that designers receive attention is by designing the outfit of a famous individual for a large entertainment event. Using these events, with thousands of people watching, designers and their models are provided a pedestal to make any statement they’d like.

 

At the Grammys, numerous musicians strutted their lovely designer outfits, each subject to praise or criticism. However, one dress stood out in particular, not for its flaring design, but its bold statement. Joy Villa, an american singer, wore a white dress with a brick pattern design and the words “Build the Wall” written in red on the back. She adorned the dress with barb wire tufts on her shoulders, a metallic headband resembling the statue of liberty, and a red MAGA purse. This is not the first time that Villa has used the Grammys’ red carpet to express her conservative ideas; in 2017 she wore a blue dress advocating President Trump’s MAGA slogan, and in 2018 she wore a pro-life gown. The artist has received a lot of hate from her most recent dress. However, she stands firmly in her beliefs--her designer, on the other hand, sought to distance herself from the design as soon as she could. Prior to the start of the Grammys, designer Desi Allinger disclosed publicly on her Instagram that although she designed Villa’s outfit, this did not mean she shared the same opinions.

Personally, I believe Allinger was using Villa in order to promote herself and her company. It’s not rare that an artist is contracted to create a political piece in support of a particular belief. By agreeing to this, an artist is guaranteed to catch the attention of the public. One can simply look at propaganda made during wartime. During World War II, Disney created a multitude of short cartoon clips for children consisting of popular characters, such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. By agreeing to create these propaganda films, the recently founded company is placed into a win-win scenario for helping the government and gaining more popularity in society. This is very similar to Allinger’s actions; she had no reason to intervene, but by creating Villa’s dress she was able to become more recognizable to society. However, this recognisability may come at a cost. Artist and designers are allowed to have differing views from their contractor, but their piece may paint them in a certain way. The public perceives art as it is, accepting the stated message, but not distinguishing a line between the piece and the artist. By doing this, artists are rarely able to escape their pieces and have their own mind set.

 

Joy Villa isn’t the only person turning to fashion to fimly state her opinion. In fact, it seems the more corrupted the world becomes, the more society turns to some form of expressionism in hopes of making a change. During the 70th Primetime Emmys, Jenifer Lewis dressed in Nike Gear in support of Colin Kaepernick being the role model for the “Just Do It” Nike campaign. In December 2018, Miley Cyrus wore a Chnge t-shirt advocating for gun control. More recently there has been an increased in popularity of the Otherwild shirt, displaying the slogan, “The Future Is Female”. The shirt has become a huge hit across the nation, uniting like-minded individuals into standing up for what they believe in--which is exactly what this nation needs.

 

The United States has always struggled with contrasting ideals fragmenting this nation. Using famous individuals that some view as role models allows younger generations to be influenced by their ideas or at least look more into them. Art is intended to have its audience question what it is trying to say and why an artist may be trying to say this. Fashion does all of this: it allows people to criticize and question why; why would Villa wear that dress to the Grammys? Why would Miley Cyrus advocate for the protection of kids? The answer is because they are intending to spread their influence. Celebrities want to see a change in our modern day society and fashion is a way to capture the attention of those who can make a difference. For this reason, we need political fashion in the entertainment industry, if only to spread awareness.