Gun control has been a prominent topic as of late, and with President Obama outlining his initiative to reduce gun violence, it finally seems as though those with the power are heading toward a resolution. Yet despite the alarming number of shootings that have taken place in recent years—not to mention street violence and military abuse throughout the world—a couple of reputable fashion houses seem intent on pushing the boundaries of right and wrong.
The Menswear Autumn/Winter 2013 fashion shows in Berlin and Milan, not to mention the on-stage attire of Lady Gaga, have shocked and disturbed audiences around the world with their outrageously inappropriate depictions of fashion. Machine guns, machetes and gas masks are just a handful of items that have shown up on the runways during a time of great global unrest.
At Milan Fashion Week (above), designer Philipp Plein stunned onlookers as his models strutted the catwalk overtly displaying automatic rifles, gas masks and balaclavas. Dressed in camouflage gear, sporting war paint with words like ‘ONLY KILL FOR REAL LOVE’ etched across their torsos, they pointed rifles out into the crowd, and I have to ask: why on earth would someone be so stupid and careless? It was as though Plein had sensed an opportunity to stun the world and gain some attention regardless of what the reactions would be. No details were spared, either—sandbags lined the catwalk, which featured a military vehicle at its top. And for the finale, Plein came out dressed to theme himself, wearing military colors and dog tags. Idiot!
Renowned for various casting stunts, this is all too familiar for controversial Plein. In 2012, the German designer opened his Milan Spring show with transgender model Lea T. For the catalogue of that Spring collection not only did Lea T appear, but it also featured Brazilian identical male twins making out. Reactions from these latest antics suggest that Plein has gone too far.
Just hours after the Plein antics, Dutch label G-Star Raw used knives and machetes during their show in Berlin. With Kill Bill actor Michael Madsen (right) as one of the models, G-Star showed off their new jacket design with special pockets that can carry 10 knives and two machetes. Why?! Madsen looked like a warrior trudging down the catwalk with two machetes crossed over his back, and the knives neatly positioned like a kitchen set across his chest. Although Madsen was decked out in denim, other models, like Plein’s show, wore military-style camouflage.
Then we have Lady Gaga—someone who can garner the attention of the world—who decides to walk on stage at her Vancouver show with a machine gun bra just a month after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Someone of her stature under the global spotlight should be cognizant that this was a stupid and insensitive outfit to wear at the time. Frankly I don’t understand when such a piece of clothing would ever be considered fashionable, but her timing couldn’t have been worse. This isn’t the first sighting of the bra either. In 2010, Gaga appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with the gun bra, and it also came up in her music video for Alejandro. This latest display just isn’t appropriate, and it only adds fuel to this trend of glamorizing weaponry.
Are these the lengths designers will go to get heard amid the noise? Why now, when the world’s going through such turmoil over unnecessary and extreme violence, does the fashion world try and make a trend and financial gain out of it? In terms of pulling off a tasteless marketing stunt, these designs obviously succeeded. They’ve got our attention, and I hope they’re ready to deal with the uproar.