“What’s a better way to portray that revolutionary vibe than making a real life protest on the catwalk? I wanted to create pieces with a strong ‘in your face’ message, with a quirky, fun and young feel.”
In October 2016, a fashion designer from Portugal used the catwalk at Lisbon Fashion Week as a feminist platform – with nipples.
Micaela Sapinho’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection was unlike the other designs paraded on the day. Her line featured monochrome clothing patterned with breasts and nipples, while her models carried placards that read: “Free the nipple” and “My body, my choice”.
Speaking to the IPF after Lisbon Fashion Week, Micaela said that it was Simone De Beauvoir’s ‘Second Sex‘ that inspired the feminist fashion collection.
“In the book, Simone stated that men have always been considered ‘the one’, the main and the default. While women appear to be ‘the other’, the exception and the secondary.”
Micaela decided to take the concept and combine it with two recent feminist campaigns: “Free the Nipple” and “Not Asking For It”. She chose those two campaigns because of the fact that they are “characterised by strong activism, protests and being such powerful themes”. She continued:
“What’s a better way to portray that revolutionary vibe than making a real life protest on the catwalk?” she said. “I wanted to create pieces with a strong ‘in your face’ message, with a quirky, fun and young feel.”
Building on personal experience
When asked if she had experienced sexual harassment herself, Micaela said: “I think I speak for all women when I say we have all personally experienced being victimised, patronised or even humiliated not only by men but also by other women.”
In a familiar story for all women, she described never remembering a time when she wasn’t compared to her male counterparts. However, she firmly believes that her gender should not define how strong, brave or smart she is.
“We have been brainwashed into thinking that girls are supposed to be beautiful and boys are suppose to be strong. This mentality needs to stop.”
The rise of feminist fashion
Largely positive reactions to Micaela’s collection at Lisbon Fashion Week has left her feeling surprisingly overwhelmed. She told the IPF that people appear to have “connected very well with the concept” and was happy to see that people were beginning to realise how important feminism is.
“There is too much negative connotation about the word feminist. As Dior said in their last collection: ‘We should all be feminists. It is about women being equal to men, not about overpowering them.’ I feel like the movement has gained more and more visibility nowadays.”
Through her fashion creations, Micaela has found a way to express her inner activist. And this may not be the only feminism fashion collection we see from the designer.
“We do not need to run around naked and scream our lungs out if we do not want to,” she said. “There are many ways to be involved in the movement and we can be activists on our own way.”
“ I love what we can communicate through fashion and how ambiguous it can be.”