Karen Walker's Subversive Feminist Fashions Are Tongue-In-Chic

Karen Walker’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection entitled “The League” is most certainly a play on subversive phrases, feminism and totally capitalizing on fashion’s current trend of “making a statement” with bold fonts. What really grabbed my eye were the cool pouches/clutches that had these awesomely sassy phrases on them like “Liberal, Miserable and Cynical” or “Young, Willing and Eager.” Walker is definitely playing with the idea of women in the workplace in a tongue-in-cheek way. Some of her fabulous dress prints feature broken hearts, gloves, nuts, bolts and wrenches that invoke a Rosie The Riveter feel in a cute modern way. The silhouettes, fabrics and suits are evocative of 1940s women factory workers and laborers as well.
The entire collection feels like “work clothes” (although very fashionable work clothes) that inspire the feeling of the HBIC though it hints at the time when women weren’t allowed to work at all. The name of the collection, “The League” reminds me of the film A League Of Their Own about the first and only All-American Girls Baseball League that existed from 1943-1954. Prior to the AAGBL women weren’t allowed to play baseball due to restrictive clothing—you couldn’t play baseball in skirts, although the league made them do so as a point of objectification. During WWII, when most American men were away fighting, in order to keep baseball in the public eye the league was started, during this time women were finally (unfortunately, briefly) allowed into the workplace to do “men’s jobs” in a time where it would have normally been unheard of. This is where we get those images of female factory workers and Rosie The Riveter championing the slogan “We Can Do It!” If we didn’t have this moment in time where society was forced to rely on the aptitudes of women who were confined to being only housewives at the time, who knows if feminism would have came to fruition the way it did?
Karen Walker appears to be playing with this dynamic of how far we have and haven’t come. Yes, women are allowed to work, women are even CEOs but not Presidents and taking on these roles comes with unwarranted scrutiny. Being, “young, willing and eager” holds a great deal of implication for a young woman entering the workforce. Is she young, willing and eager because she is ambitious or because she is sleeping her way to the top, which is too often implied about many successful women or maybe she’s eager to be famous and willing to do anything to get there, maybe she has a sex tape out? The phrases Karen has chosen are loaded and all the more effective. Check out our favorite pieces and see the rest here. Karen Walker’s limited edition clutches are available for $220 so save up.

[Via. Karen Walker/Refinery 29]

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