This NYFW Show's Opening Was Nothing Short Of Inspirational

Photo: Courtesy of Women's March.
Many designers made signs, packed into buses, and marched in Washington, D.C. the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration. But in the weeks after the demonstration, the industry's follow-up was less consistent. Still, designer Mara Hoffman used her New York Fashion Week timeslot to remind everyone that the work of the Women's March wasn't done — and she handed the mic off to the organizers themselves.

Hoffman invited Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour (co-chairs of the Women's March) to open her fall '17 fashion show. Dressed in black, the four women read the work of authors and activists like Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Maya Angelou, as well as the Women's March's mission statement. Then, as the show began, dancers came out, decked in Hoffman's new collection, with Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" as the soundtrack.
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The Women's March co-chairs explained in a joint statement that they felt compelled to participate in Hoffman's presentation. "So many of our communities are being stripped away from basic human rights, that we must all come together and use our platforms to stand together," they said. "We commend Mara and other designers who have made a public stance on today’s political climate. The days of just sitting back and hoping for change are no longer an option."

Hoffman's fall '17 collection is "inspired by the women whose songs are not yet sung, the allies, the named and the nameless," as well as to the women "who are constantly creating in the name of change," per the show notes. The designer noted how she came back to New York after the Women's March wondering how she could harness all the energy she'd seen in the nation's capital and keep the momentum going in an interview with the Washington Post: "This is what I’m doing with my spotlight," she told the publication. "This is what I’m doing when people are paying attention to me."
This translated into clothes that were easy, breathable, and made to move in (which was further demonstrated by the show's choreography). The fabrics included soft denim, knits, and other durable materials that harken back to a classic idea of American workwear — clothing for those who still have work to do.

To Hoffman, this wasn't just a fashion show; it was "an opportunity to amplify a greater message of unity, inclusion, diversity, and feminism in a fashion space," the designer said in a statement. "This is the chance to show that there can be a cross section of fashion, politics and activism in the name of social justice and women’s empowerment. These are necessary things for all people."

You can read the full script read to showgoers, provided to Refinery29 by the Women's March, below.

Round 1

Carmen Perez: "We come together in the spirit of democracy, unity, love, and strength with the message that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together in solidarity recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country. Hear our voice."

Bob Bland: "'I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.' We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us. Hear our voice."

Tamika Mallory: "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all. Hear our voice."

Linda Sarsour: "'Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.' We affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination. We must create a society in which ALL women are free. Hear our voice."

Round 2

Bland: "We stand together, honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us. We dedicate ourselves to all the women around us."

Perez: "To protect each other, we don’t always have to agree. But we have to organize and stand together. Unity of action does not mean that we have to be unanimous in thought, but injury to one is injury to all."

Mallory: "None of us are free until everyone is free. When we fight for justice, we fight for it for all people and for all of our communities. We STAND for women of color, for women with disabilities, for indigenous women. We STAND for the women being held in airports, for the women behind bars."

Sarsour: "We STAND for the undocumented, the under represented and the LGBTQIA community. We STAND for the Muslim women, for the women who show up and the ones who cannot."

All: "Women’s rights are human rights."
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