I can’t tell you how many drunken conversations I’ve had with my fellow females about how much love we have for Orange Is The New Black. Despite the fact that it follows the narratives of felons in the fictional Litchfield Penitentiary of New York, the diverse cast of characters are more relatable and representative of us and our experiences as women than any other TV show aired in history (sorry Sex and The City, I still love you). It’s a pretty big deal that we are becoming emotionally invested in the perspectives of those other than that of the privileged white female and that female sexuality can be celebrated on-screen without our bodies being overtly sexualised. Finally, it’s characters like Healy, Pornstache and Larry that make us realise that even though men can be repeatedly creepy, gross and misogynistic in positions of power and authority, our strength and smarts are not to be underestimated.
Alexander Wang is the king of structure and simplicity, which is entirely fitting for a designer based in New York City. His Fall 2014 campaign showcases this signature aesthetic whilst also paying homage to OITNB. Featuring heavy military jackets, textured sweaters with hints of orange, blue, yellow and fluorescent green, models are posed behind the confines of prison windows in cell blocks. Shot by the legendary Steven Klein, the campaign is evocative of the headstrong cast of the show, though once again sadly fails to embrace a similar sense of diversity.
Although Wang might not cite OITNB as his predominant source of inspiration for the campaign, it’s had fashion media abuzz with recurring statements about the stark parallels between the two. Wang is a designer who is particularly in touch with youth culture. Being a younger designer himself, he is engaged in social media conversation and the types of attitudes emerging from our generation. Safe to say, it would be silly to suggest that Wang is not aware of our influences, that he coincidentially incorporates them into his designs. It’s what makes Alexander Wang’s persona transcend the fashion industry – he is a pop culture icon.
Just to clarify though, it’s the powerful social and cultural implications that shows such as OITNB have on us as a society that should be acknowledged when they are reflected in collections like Wang’s. I stumbled upon one article that cited the term ‘prison chic’ to describe the theme of the campaign and it’s remarks like this that give the fashion industry a bad rap for being inherently superficial and insensitive. Boo.
Despite this, Wang’s Fall collection and its accompanying campaign is, as always, unapologetic about showcasing a line that is strong, sophisticated and geared towards women who take no prisoners.