Discussions surrounding the female body has proliferated in the past few years with increased relevance of body politics and gender politics. Feminist fashion designer Paula Knorr was inspired by the bodies of female musicians and the way their bodies influence their craft. One thinks of empowering musicians Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, whose body positive messaging inspires hundreds of thousands of young women globally. Their bodies are constantly scrutinised in the media and in a way are as a prevalent in the news as the artists are themselves. The media is unforgiving and many musicians—other than those three, also—have documented this in their music.
To set the scene at the BFC Presentation Space she experimental pop duo MADISUSOVANDA to provide the music for the show. A fuchsia lounge was constructed and the models lazed on peach plinths, others stood or reclined on a shimmery curtain. The clothes were a continuation from last season, with the exciting reemergence of those delightful futuristically-inclined metallics; this season they were presented in silver and a beautiful purple hue. The bad girl attitude of Rihanna—arguably the most influential pop star of the past decade both musically and stylistically—underscored much of the looks; thigh high boots and shirt dresses? Unmistakably Rihanna. In the steamy show space, it was reminiscent of a scene from a Rihanna music video.
The most memorable look was a strapless, form-fitting dress in dark blue with a photograph of an eye printed on the skirt. It captured the meaning of the show: all eyes are on the body—constantly watching, weighing, scrutinising or celebrating. Spotlighting the notion of art and artist and employing it as a device in collections is intelligent but also unheard of. I can’t name another designer whose made an intellectual comment on the role of art and its interconnectedness with the artist’s person. In times like these when body positivity, female empowerment are buzzwords, it is necessary for designers like Paula to be portraying facets of womanhood like this and presenting them in a way that is both fun but encompasses the serious nature of the topic.
Paula’s point of view is superlative: her feminist fashion is uniquely unconventional, strays from traditional boundaries, never veers into trite territory. Her honest expression and insistence of meaningful garments have seen her rise to prominence on the London scene. She is a designer who young women, and men alike, should look to for inspiration: her message of exploring female emotions and simultaneously empowering women.