Binaries on the Runway

By Kathy Villa

The fashion and modeling industries have long been places of exclusivity, elitism and the seemingly unfaltering aesthetic of the thin white person. Until recently, the industry has had little to no diversity, particularly lacking in queer or LGBT representation. Today, it appears the industry has begun to embrace a multitude of gender identities as we see a revival of androgynous and genderqueer models — but how extensive is this inclusivity, and how are the models in question affected by it?

Photo courtesy of @raindovemodel on Instagram

Photo courtesy of @raindovemodel on Instagram

In fashion, the term “androgyny” is used to describe an aesthetic that “combines both masculine and feminine characteristics” according to Teen Vogue. It is often used loosely, some people using it to describe their gender, with others using it as a descriptor of style. This is where models such as Rain Dove (@raindovemodel) come into play. Standing at 6’2” with a fierce, masculine expression, their androgynous physicality swiftly brought them popularity in 2014. Born female, Rain Dove prefers gender neutral pronouns, but is accepting of every pronoun. Because agencies only seemed to be interested in them for men’s wear campaigns, they ended up pursuing different interests.

That being said, more people are coming to understand the fluidity of gender and clothing, yet high end designers have a long way to go when it comes to inclusivity.

Thanks to those in Hollywood who identify outside of the gender binary the fashion industry is desperate to maintain, the entire industry has shifted towards bigger and better things. Caitlyn Jenner’s public transition was widely celebrated across the internet, and contributed to the LGBT community’s up and coming era of social acceptance and celebration. Genderqueer and non-binary stars like Ruby Rose and Amandla Stenberg have contributed to queer visibility in the entertainment industry. Jaden Smith put everyone in awe when his Louis Vuitton Womenswear campaign in 2016 depicted him in a skirt, and Young Thug broke boundaries when he chose to wear a billowing purple gown for the cover art of his 2016 album No, My name is Jeffery.

But what about the runways of major fashion houses? Despite the increasing number of gender-nonconforming and transgender models being hired by higher end designers, non-binary individuals continue to be used in binary forms. Enter Oslo Grace, the 21-year-old trans non-binary model ruffling everyone’s feathers in the fashion industry. Based in New York, Grace had appeared on plenty of catwalks in the fashion industry, but made their first popular appearance at Jeremy Scott’s Moschino show in January of 2018, closing it alongside Rupaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki in Milan. Impossible to miss, they garnered the attention of Alessandro Michele, who then tasked them with carrying the signature baby dragon for Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2018 fashion week.

Photo Courtesy of Vogue

Photo Courtesy of Vogue

Photo Courtesy of W Magazine

Photo Courtesy of W Magazine

Under their agency, Grace appears under both menswear and womenswear boards, and continues to make appearances for other big name fashion companies. More recently, they were deemed the highlight of Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2019–2020 show striking multiple looks in one show. In only four minutes, the model transitioned from a compelling pink suit with side-swept bangs to a lavender eye look paired with a fringe-laden pink dress to end the show. When asked about their journey through modeling and why they choose to appear in both mens and womens wear, Grace told Refinery29 “I usually present very binary on the runway because runways aren’t usually nonbinary.” While they continue to work within the traditional limitations of runway culture, they are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a model by being themselves. Grace is clearly on their way to becoming one of the fashion industry’s hidden gems, in more ways than one. More importantly, they are testing the limits and proving it’s time the fashion industry stopped thinking of fashion as a matter of strictly male or female altogether.

Week in Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

On the Basis of Fashion

By Salma Falah

When you think about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you think lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, mother, and wife. But what about fashionista? RBG dedicated her life to fighting for gender equality, and looked amazing doing it. This year we got to see Ginsburg on the big screen twice, in On the Basis of Sex and Notorious RBG. These two films highlighted different parts of her life, but they both gave justice to her timeless style.

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Felicity Jones starred as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex this fall. This film highlighted Ginsburg’s time as a law student and her career as a young lawyer. Growing up primarily in the 21st century, it is hard to imagine how sexist American society was when RBG was a young lawyer. In the fall of 1956, when Ruth began her time at Harvard Law, she was one of nine women in a class with 500 men. Watching a young Ruth walk into Harvard in a vibrant blue Dior power suit surrounded by typical black suits made that inherent sexism palpable. During this time, Ginsburg follows many of the ‘50s trends such as a beautiful emerald tea length swing dress for an elegant dinner and a plaid Peter Pan collared dress for class.

The film then jumps to the early ’70s and RBG’s wardrobe shifts with the times. Her style becomes a little funkier and more colorful, including the iconic Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. What really caught my eye was her hair ties. You might have assumed that hair ties are for little kids, but after watching this film RBG will convince you that they are the coolest accessory yet. After watching the film, I even bought myself some. Even though RBG’s style evolved throughout the film, one thing remained constant: her wardrobe always perfectly combined trendiness and professionalism.

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Still from On the Basis of Sex, 2018

Photo courtesy of author

Photo courtesy of author

Photo courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States website

Photo courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States website

In Notorious RBG, a documentary about Ginsburg’s life, you see her personal style progress and evolve. In the film, she shows the many collars she wears with her Supreme Court Justice robe. As the second female Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg explained that the standard black robe was created for a man, leaving a place by the neckline for a man's tie and shirt to show. RBG and Sandra Day O'Connor decided to add collars to their robes to represent their style. Ginsburg added an extra element of playfulness to each collar she wore by establishing a ‘majority opinion’ collar and a ‘dissenting opinion’ collar. Most would think there is no way to style a plain black robe, but RBG found one. In many points in her life, Ginsburg was the only woman in a room surrounded by men, all with their own preconceived notions about her. By adding small personal touches to all of her looks, she helped the world to see her idea of femininity: resiliency. So, are you struggling to find your “Co-op style”? Channel RBG.

What Is Next for Dolce (& Gabbana) After Their Racist Advertisement?

By Maxine An

Dolce & Gabbana may be without a Gabbana in years to come. Their recent marketing campaign started a huge controversy in China; Dolce & Gabbana were due to host their debut fashion show in China December of 2018. However, their show, titled “The Great Show”, was cancelled after their promotional video, a Chinese model attempting to eat Italian food with chopsticks, was released (and taken down less than 24 hours later). The Chinese were extremely upset, taking offense to the brand’s portrayal of the Chinese culture and its mockery of the Chinese accent while speaking English. How could the directors and producers not have caught that this was a racist advertisement?

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Image courtesy of The Guardian

Not only was the commercial offensive to the Chinese, what made it worse were the insulting comments about the Chinese people made from Stefano Gabbana’s personal Instagram account. In an Instagram conversation with a model, Gabbana called her “China Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia,” as well as implying that the Chinese were inferior if they were offended by a girl eating pasta or pizza with chopsticks. These are audacious remarks, especially for someone with a reputation to uphold. Although Gabbana denied having made those comments, it was already too late and the Italian brand was forced to cancel their show in Shanghai. The duo, having realized their mistake, issued a video apology.

In the video, Dolce said, “We also want to apologize to all of the many Chinese people throughout the world. We take this apology very seriously as well as this message.” Gabbana added, “We will never forget this experience and it will certainly never happen again. In fact, we will work to do things better. We will respect the Chinese culture in every way possible.” The video concludes with Dolce & Gabbana both saying, “From the bottom of our hearts, we ask for forgiveness. Sorry.”

However, it does not look like an apology will be enough for this brand to get back its reputation in China. Some crazy ideas have been thrown out as to how to save the Dolce and Gabbana brand from disappearing. The craziest ones have involved the removal of Gabbana from the brand name itself; everything would be owned by Domenico Dolce. Removing Gabbana might save the brand in the eyes of the Chinese, but the whole company is at fault. The advertisement was surely was not just the fault of Gabbana, but  Dolce and the rest of their team as well. Everyone on their side is at fault for their misinterpretation and misuse of the Chinese culture. Gabbana leaving the brand could severely impact their image, but it is definitely understandable given that he was the one who had an indescribable conversation with someone on Instagram. Is it really possible for Dolce & Gabbana to become just Dolce?

Image courtesy of the South China Morning Post

Image courtesy of the South China Morning Post

Moreover, according to Women’s Wear Daily, about 30 percent of the brand’s sales are in China, and this recent fallout could have a disastrous impact on their future revenue. The Chinese spend over $7 billion on luxury brands annually, according to the consultancy McKinsey. The Shanghai Dolce & Gabbana show could have won over possible Chinese consumers, but unfortunately, that did not happen. In fact the very opposite happened, as Chinese e-commerce sites such giant.JD.com boycotted the brand and pulled the Dolce & Gabbana brand from their brick and mortar shops.

Because Dolce & Gabbana has realized the enormous fault in the direction of their advertisement, they can use this bad press as an opportunity to take action and do something good. The press and reporters will be on their tails following their mishap, and they have an opportunity to show the press how they are trying to be more aware of their cultural surroundings. Their apology was very much needed, but obviously it was not enough. Turning bad press into good press can make the brand bounce back, not only in China but around the world.

It is hard to predict what will eventually happen to the Dolce & Gabbana name. What can they do to fix this mess? Where will they end up after all of this is over? Perhaps, if time allows this huge mistake to blow over, the brand will get back on its feet, or maybe drastic measures will have to be taken in order to keep the brand from losing its reputation from the public eye forever.

Dolce & Gabbana may never be the same again, but they have a reputation to uphold and a name to live up to. They surely cannot be stopped by their mistake, and will be looking for ways to overcome this obstacle. Of course, there will still be people who will continue to dislike them for their slip-up, but they have to start back up on the right foot if they want their brand to continue to flourish all over the world.


Week in Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Gvasalia Tackles Censorship in FW19 Vetements Presentation

By Taraneh Azar, Runway Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Vogue Runway

Vetements creative director Demna Gvasalia just brought Vetements back from the ashes by doing what he does best: being a complete and absolute joke. Not just any joke though—the power of Vetements to tackle government censorship and political instability through virtually meme-like imagery makes Vetements the most artfully pointed pseudo-joke of 2019 (thus far).

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As an army of models trod down the runway, presumably on their way to some trance show, Vetements is resurrected after a year of boring and repetitive presentations. The young cousin of Balenciaga took our Gen-Z consumer selves by storm in 2014, creating a culture of fashion appreciation with heavy sarcasm and silent admiration. And with a surge of 20-year-olds willing and ready to buy $2,000 sweatshirts (only after Kanye West, Rihanna and Lorde brought the label to the forefront of hypewear) with their parents’ credit cards, Gvasalia finds himself in the ideal socio-cultural landscape for him to play his tricks.

The show opens with zoo animals in a museum-esque setting providing a backdrop for the presentation, and a printed turtleneck reading:

“Warning!!: What you are about to witness will disturb you. Even shock you. There is a dark side of humanity the censors won’t let you see…but we will. View at your own risk.”

And so it begins.

The presentation invoked anarchy in the face of censorship, resistance in the face of an era and generation largely left to be political pawns throughout with painful self-awareness as highlighted by Gvasalia’s meme-like choices in taking direct blows at the label.

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At times sentiment was more engaging than stylistic direction as Gvasalia repeated many trends of the past year. Form-fitting sock-like-shoes reminiscent of Vivienne Westwood’s famous animal toe boots which have since been replicated by the likes of Celine and Margiela, among others, were featured and the chunky trainers resurfaced with no end in sight.

Baggy sweatshirts and stiff, structured shoulders were all present throughout the collection, among other usual suspects such as logo-printed socks and oddly-placed pinstripe button-downs [SEE LOOK 19].

While balaclavas were all the rage this past year with Calvin Klein 205W39NYC’s f/w 18’s utilization of the long-hailed utilitarian staple, making its way from hikers and runners to the fashion kids of 2018, Gvasalia highlighted a switch to full-on ski-masks.

Kurt Cobain was even represented  as colored hair, a baggy cardigan and a t-shirt reading “Corporate Magazines Still Suck (A Lot!)” appeared, reconstructing one of Cobain’s signature looks featured on the cover of Rolling Stone in ‘92. With a variation of Cobain’s notable “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” t-shirt, the irony flooded in as, aside from WWD, Vogue.com is one of the only places to source images from the show.

The presentation closed with six looks, faces veiled and completely cloaked in heavy fabrics, delicate laces and extending latex hoods, book-ending the theme of censorship in the digital age.

In an age of threatened net-neutrality looming over the heads of global citizen more now than ever before, coupled with government censorship and political lies defining social and cultural landscapes worldwide, Gvasalia tackles issues on the daily menu with stark self awareness and sarcastic satire galore. Here’s to 2019!

Week in Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Week in Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Week in Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Week In Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

How Fashion Satisfies Our Need for Nostalgia

By Michelle Weth
Photography by Simran Gvalani
Modeled by Maya Dengel

This article has been adapted for the web from our Unity/Uniformity Issue.

Fashion is demonstrative of an era and its values. When we think back to past fashion eras, they are characterized by the countercultures of the time, such as Woodstock of the 1960s or how the fashion industry capitalized on the grunge scene of the 1990s. The costumes of popular television shows or films set in the past can influence viewers’ personal styles. Thanks to the internet, images are more easily and readily shared, and allow access to types of fashion other than the prevalent high fashion and normcore aesthetics.

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Though more readily apparent today, fashion has always been nostalgic by taking inspiration from innovative designs of the past. In her book Accessories to Modernity: Fashion and the Feminine in Nineteenth-Century France, Susan Hiner defines nostalgia as the “romanticized longing for an idealized past.” She writes that nostalgia often “over invests certain objects with emotional powers, and the object is thus fetishized,” exalting certain articles and incorporating them into the collective consciousness.

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It’s indisputable that clothing is reflective of the values of a time, but our interpretations aren’t always accurate. It’s widely believed that corsets from the 18th century were laced so tightly that women either became ill or chose to remove their ribs to fit the body standard. This belief was actually disproved in an article by Michelle Honig for Bustle, who wrote that “A woman’s body is quite malleable. You can quite comfortably minimize the body without causing distress or discomfort." Much of the criticism surrounding corsets in our collective consciousness actually comes from male critics, demonstrating that even in the 18th century, women were incapable of escaping the male gaze.

Sometimes nostalgia for a bygone era’s fashion is warranted, though. Take into account the iconic leather jacket, à la James Dean, and its classic association with rebellion. Later incorporated into the grunge counterculture, leather jackets have become a mainstay in fashion with people of all ages, rebellious or not. The fact that clothing items have become such symbols only fuels the notion that society has fetishized certain styles because of their historical significance.

But what do we truly know about the past? People may think they belong in the 1920s or the 1960s, but these desires often come from a nostalgic look at fashions of the past. People may have an affinity for bohemian fashion and think that they would fit right in with the hippies of the 1960s, with the perception that they lived for love and freedom.

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Although identifying with the past often involves a romanticized version of history, it also allows people the freedom to embrace silhouettes across generations. The past exists to inform our future, so why not use elements of clothing from the past now? Perhaps take advantage of personal vintage items, or even secondhand pieces from thrift stores. Whether you take inspiration from the clothing your parents or grandparents wore or from style icons like Audrey Hepburn or Steve McQueen, experiment to find your personal blend of old and new to create a style that reflects your own values.

Week In Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Week in Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Sustainable Fashion: What You Can Do, Too

Written and modeled by Emily Perez

Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, 20 percent of the world’s industrial wastewater, 24 percent of insecticides, and 11 percent of pesticides use? It’s crazy to think that the fast-fashion clothes we love could be so harmful to our environment. As well as the harm of fast fashion on the environment, many textile workers are severely underpaid and subjected to horrible conditions. While there continues to be many unsustainable textile practices around the world, the good news is there are designers who are looking to make a difference.

Two of the most inspiring sustainable designers of our time are Stella McCartney and the up and coming Belgian designer Bruno Pieters. Pieters is known for his exceptional, 100 percent transparent company. He decided to create this collection, Honest by, after traveling to India to study the textile practices there for two years. Pieters explains how “Details of each supplier are diligently detailed, including items like the number of employees and how long it took to cut and to iron the garment”. This transparency is reflected in the prices but this is a good price to pay for something that is ethically made.

Another very notable sustainable fashion designer is Stella McCartney. What McCartney is most famous for is advocating against cruelty to animals. She has created a very successful brand without using any fur or leather. McCartney even dedicated a whole section of her website to her mission for sustainability and her respect for people, animals, nature, and circular solutions.

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Not only does Stella have her own brand, she often collaborates with Adidas. Adidas features several contemporary designs that are popular on college campuses. Examples of these are the Sam Smith Stella McCartney sneakers and, featured in the photo to the right, the Stella McCartney Adidas wind jacket. She was a partner of the Kering conglomerate, who worked with the Center for Sustainable Fashion. The Center for Sustainable Fashion is a research facility in the London College of Fashion. Additionally, after becoming independent from the Kering conglomerate after 17 years, she still releases an annual Environmental Profits and Loss Report, which publicizes the impact her business has on the environment.

So why shop sustainable? Even though you might have to save up to spend more on certain pieces of clothing, you’d be getting clothes that are much higher quality and that you can use for many years to come. Additionally, you’d be helping the environment, saving animals, and supporting human rights.

Furthermore, there are some stores around Boston and online that also support the quest for sustainability. These stores include Reformation, Everlane, and FjällRäven. You can find Reformation and FjällRäven right on Newbury Street and Everlane can be found online. Everlane has a particularly unique website that even shows you each of the factories where their clothes are made and shows you pictures of the factories.

So what can you do?

  1. As Bruno Pieters says, “ask questions”! Pieters, who worked a number of years at Hugo Boss, says how companies really do take customer needs into account. If you start asking stores where their products are made or what they are made out of, this will start to make them more aware.

  2. Shop less, and for more quality items that will last you a longer time.

  3. Buy from sustainable stores and designers.

Week In Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue Editorial Board

Week In Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Don't Treat Me Like One Of Your French Girls

By Victoire Cointy
Photography by Ellie MacLean
Modeled by Aya Albakoush, Anna Sedova, and Wint Htet

This article has been adapted for the web from our Unity/Uniformity Issue.

Every designer creates clothing with a particular individual in mind, creating entire lines and collections as they place themselves in their models’ shoes. Just as each individual puts together their outfit based on the demands of their day, a designer will inhabit their customer for an instant. The “French Girl” we’ve all come to aspire to be was, like any other style, born from the self-expression of a particular type of woman.

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This French Girl is effortless, wears minimal makeup and prefers a neutral palette over loud colours. Her sex appeal doesn’t come from a plunging neckline, high hemline or exposed skin, but from her elegance, sophistication and quiet intellect. She’s unapologetically herself and owns her identity as a voracious sexual being, but with a quiet and muted confidence. Her indulgences are always reasonable, though she’s never one to refuse a glass of red wine, any and all types of cheese or some chocolat, especially when offered by a potential romantic counterpart. Her hair cascades down her shoulders with admirable ease. She’s Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Jane Birkin, Inès de la Fressange, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Carine Roitfeld, Laeticia Casta, Clémence Poésy, and Julia Restoin Roitfeld. She’s the elusive, yet widely desired French Girl.

This image of the French Girl pervades every aspect of the fashion industry, from runways to magazines. Even Vogue, a leader in the print and digital media industry, has a plethora of articles about her in its archive, with topics ranging from matching eyeshadow to earrings in “This French Girl Beauty Trick Is About to Be Everywhere” to dissecting fall-appropriate outfits in “How to Do Back-to-School Shopping Like a French Girl” or celebrating of bare skin in “Why French Girls Skip Concealer—and Swear by the Surprising Charm of Under-Eye Circles.” Goop— Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter turned lifestyle brand—one-ups the print mogul with an entire section on its website dedicated to looking like the French Girl. One of its first few articles is a French Girl wardrobe starter kit because “French women do, in fact, just have it going on.” From a simple black blazer, to year-round white denim, the look seems almost too easy to co-opt.

Articles like these—found in every nook and cranny of the fashion print industry—preach the secrets of a woman who seems so elusive and so perfect, she’s almost completely unattainable. Therein lies the attraction women have with this myth, turned marketing gimmick.

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Brands profit from the idea of the French girl. In fact, it’s slowly but surely turned into a billion-dollar industry. Take French Girl Organics. The sustainable beauty brand, created by American entrepreneur Kristeen GriffinGrimes, markets itself as “inspired by the timeless je ne sais quoi spirit of French Girls everywhere” and “perfect for everyday self-care and effortless indulgence” on its website. However, other than the French labels, none of the products feature any ingredients that seem inherently French. Though Griffin-Grimes claims to have been inspired by the South of France, the area’s intoxicating scent of vegetation and garrigue is ignored in favor of rose, sea salt and charcoal, which—truth be told— hold no particular significance in French culture.

On the fashion front, Madewell, launched in 2006, has built itself around making the French style readily available. From customizable leather bags to striped cotton shirts, channelling the style of the hundreds of thousands of women roaming the cobbled streets of Paris has never been easier. But, here’s the thing: no French girl would ever wear a mustard tee with the word “Dijon” printed onto it in big, bold letters. That idea is tantamount to French designers creating a maroon shirt embroidered with the words “barbecue sauce,” and labelling it the American style.

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The current definition of “French style” and its effortlessness severely misrepresents French identity. Though France is not a leader nor a model of diversity and integration, Parisian women— unlike what brands and the media want us to believe — are not all slender white women with hair that always falls perfectly when undone and a constantly clear complexion. Many women in Paris are women of colour, who leave their homes in hijabs, dashikis or kaftans; women who do not fit in ridiculously small sample sizes; and working women, whose dress is determined by their field of work rather than their own personal musings. Denying that their sense of style is part of the larger tapestry of French fashion is ignoring a very large percentage of the women who make up the population of France today.

To put it metaphorically, lack of diversity and social inclusion in France is like a bad blemish: the country knows of its existence, but often refuses to take a long hard look in the mirror to truly acknowledge it. In the past few years alone, the country has dived nose-first into a more nationalistic identity, almost electing Marine Le Pen—incumbent leader of the National Rally, a right-wing nationalist party—to the presidency in 2017. Coupled with the recent refugee crises and subsequent immigration, many today feel like outsiders and second-class citizens in a country they’ve called home for generations.

Mix together this nationalist identity with a severe lack of social mixity and cultural integration, and you end up with the cités of Seine Saint-Denis and Marseille. Both known for being the poorest areas in France, their landscape is made up of dozens of cheap, large building complexes which house generations of immigrants from all over the African continent.

It’s when looking at issues as deeply rooted as the racial and financial segregation of individuals in France that one is truly able to understand the problematic nature of the French Girl’s existence. Not only is she a classical misrepresentation of the many styles of dress adopted women across the country, she is a symptom of a much larger issue: racism and the erasure of diversity in France. So, next time you plan to wear a beret, forgo your concealer or add a red lip in an effort to be authentically French, think about Laura Flessel, Marjane Satrapi, Leïla Bekhti, Yamina Benguigui, Amel Bent or even Fleur Pellerin—all truer reflections of what it means to be a French girl than that marketing myth could ever dream of being.

I Tried Making Sense of Guinea Pig Journalism & You Won't Believe What Happened

By Olivia Mastrosimone
Photography by Calem Robertson
odeled by Anna Rychlik, Bridget McDonald, and Alaina Robie

This article has been adapted for the web from our Unity/Uniformity Issue.

“I Dressed Like Meghan Markle For 5 Days & Honestly I’m Still Exhausted.”

“I Dressed Like Every Kardashian Jenner for the Week.”

“I’m 23 and Dressed as Royal Baby Prince George for a Week.”

The list goes on—literally. There are pages of this stuff. We’re talking more than 18 Google Os worth of people trying to look like other people and writing about it. It’s confusing, it’s entertaining and it’s absolutely taking over the internet.

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The idea of “guinea pig journalism,” as coined by Amelia Diamond of Man Repeller, is one unique to 2010s fashion and digital media. It all follows the same basic concept: someone decides, for no real reason, to dress like a public figure, character or decade for a week, chronicles their journey with photos or videos and then writes about how it fundamentally changed them as a person or something. You have your classic, “I Dressed Like Kim Kardashian for a Week” articles on just about every lifestyle publication on the internet, but it goes much deeper. What about the trend where YouTube personalities make videos about dressing like other YouTube personalities? Or the more abstract articles, like Refinery29’s “I Dressed Like a Divorcée In A Rom-Com For A Week?” There’s even a Vice article about dressing like Keanu Reeves that somehow manages to make a compelling statement about value and self-expression. Oh, the nuance!

We could categorize guinea pig journalism as a harmless fluff fad, and just brush it off our content-logged shoulders. Cosmopolitan probably won’t be winning a Pulitzer Prize for “I Dressed like North West for a Week and This is What Happened,” but let’s think for a moment about the purpose these articles serve – outside of being guilty pleasure material.

If you can get on board with the dramatics, there is a dark side to all of this content. The more articles of this type you read, the stronger tendency there is to develop a destructive “if that celebrity can do it, why can’t I?” mentality. Pop culture views an extreme divide between celebrity culture and real people, and focusing on the details of how a celebrity dresses and lives their life for an article exemplifies this unattainable reality. In short, reading an article about a normal woman who fails miserably at trying to look like celebrities who have a fullon “glam squad” at their disposal is probably not the best for our psyches. It’s not that they’re shooting too high, just at the wrong target.

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No matter how high you think your horse is, you can admit that these articles – if anything – are fun. They’re downsized reality TV without the champagne-throwing antics. They’re the articles you read while waiting for a train or spiraling down a content binge at 3 a.m. Besides being entertaining, they have the ability to make us feel good about ourselves, considering the most common thread is that dressing like any celebrity is excruciating. You’ll think to yourself, “being Kim K seems pretty terrible, I mean, I can be seen in public in my pajamas and no one will care! I’m so lucky I don’t have to always look presentable!” and go about the rest of your day with a newfound sense of pride in your day-to-day appearance. If these articles teach us anything, it’s that flawlessness is a farce, and being real is easiest.

The next time you come across one of these pieces, which shouldn’t be too long from now, think about how it’s affecting you. Treat it as entertainment, not a suggestion. You don’t have to stop reading about women being Kim K’s guinea pig. Keep watching that video about dressing like a Real Housewife of New York. Enjoy content responsibly, and be happy knowing you can leave the house in whatever state of pajama-wearing you like. Focus on yourself and don’t strive for unrealistic ideals, unless those ideals are Keanu Reeves barefoot wearing a red trucker hat.

Week In Review: The Avenue's Favorite Looks

By The Avenue’s Editorial Board

Common Threads: Trends as a Form of Unity

By Aidan Baglivo
Photography by Kate Coiro
Modeled by Michaiah Parker, Aidan Baglivo, Tiffany Fujiwara, Soja Moore & Annabel Snidow

This article has been adapted for the web from our Unity/Uniformity Issue.

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There is comfort in uniformity. In today’s divisive world, fashion can offer a reprieve from the toxicity of a polarized political environment insofar that certain trends transcend current events. Sharing an affinity for something tangible, like the clothes on your back, with other people promotes new connections and discourages the all-too-familiar “Us vs. Them” dynamic.

Trends are intersectional because the fervor behind fashion has no boundaries. What a person chooses to wear and how they choose to wear it is directly influenced by the choices of others. Because inspiration knows no color or creed, a particular style can emerge at any rung in the social ladder. Part of fashion’s appeal is its momentum in the pendulum of public opinion; surges in a particular style’s popularity are infectious.

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People often participate in the group dynamic behind a trend without needing to consider their background or beliefs. Denim, in particular, has sustained public favor for decades across differences in race, gender and class. With the recent resurgence of denim jackets, patches and overalls, the trend has truly diffused throughout society regardless of political affiliation, sexual orientation, race or gender. There is beauty in the anonymity of a trend— wearing it and flaunting it are not restricted to one type of human.

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Natural differences arise in how people choose to wear what everyone is wearing. This natural dynamic highlights how individuality can thrive within unity. Putting personal touches on an overarching style or fabric, like denim, enables people to make trends their own. Experimenting with raw or clean hems, the type of wash or embroidery creates avenues for self-expression while retaining a connection to something larger than oneself.

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Lone voices from disparate sources unite under trends to form a cohesive yet heterogeneous form of protest. Historically speaking, women have been restricted in the realm of fashion due to their gender. After all, jeans began as simple pieces of men’s workwear because of their durability. Considering the general impracticality of womenswear, the popularity of these utilitarian garments among women is a direct result of rebellious women adopting men’s Levi’s. Because certain women were brave enough to wear men’s jeans, the denim trend today is united by a sense of androgyny.

We should look to the world of fashion to find stability in a volatile time. The natural ability for people to bond over clothes points to a much larger human dynamic; people are much more similar than they think. There is power in our common threads.