Female Fashion "Muses" Still Reign Supreme


With 2019 quickly approaching, it seems we can’t go a single day without another 2018 roundup hitting the Internet. This past week, for example, Harper’s Bazaar dug into the most googled fashion searches of the past 12 months. Most of the hits were trend-driven terms like “1980s fashion” and “Hipster style,” but a few stood out in particular: For one, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle both nabbed top spots, showing that our fascination with the sartorial royals isn’t going away anytime soon. Another popular search with “Harajuku fashion,” referring to the Tokyo neighborhood where (mostly) young women parade in cartoon-glam looks. Besides offering a glimpse at what trend might remain popular in the New Year, these search terms also created a reminder of the role of the woman in the fashion industry. While it’s no secret that there is a dearth of women in the industry’s C-suite positions, female-driven trends and style icons remain the propelling force behind the business. Going forward, it will be interesting to examine how this “muse” position evolves into the next several years. Will women perhaps use the muse ideal to elevate themselves to higher, more powerful roles, or will the perpetual fetishizing of women’s bodies and clothing backfire on another generation of girls?

For Further Reading

Click here to read more about how the biggest style icon of 2018— Duchess Meghan— uses her wardrobe to send a message about causes she cares about.


Discussion Question

What do you think about the “woman as muse” tradition in fashion? Do you think promoting women as style icons is helpful or hurtful to women’s power, or both?


Action Item

Google a famous woman you admire— perhaps an actress, a politician, an artist— and see how many times there is an article referring to her as a trendsetter or style icon, as opposed to her real occupation.

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