Can lingerie make a political statement? Marlies Dekkers thinks so.
The always-fascinating Dutch designer was only a child in 1968, but like everyone in Western Europe her life was changed forever by the upheaval that rocked Paris during that explosive summer.
Now, Dekkers has unveiled a lingerie collection that draws inspiration from the events of May 1968, or ‘French May’ as it was known around the world. It’s as much a political manifesto as a fashion statement and it’s certain to become one of the most talked-about collections of the year.
The pictures we’re showing you today are from the range titled ‘L’imagination au Pouvoir‘, which is one part of Dekkers’ large spring-summer 2011 collection (we’ll look at more from this collection later on).
Dekkers chose the French name for this youth-oriented range deliberately; ‘L’imagination au Pouvoir‘ (Imagination in Power) is a reworking of one the most familiar slogans used during the 1968 French general strike — ‘L’imagination prend le pouvoir‘ (Imagination Takes Power).
For those too young to remember, the summer of 1968 literally redefined France and helped trigger youth-driven rebellions and protests around the world in the years that followed. What began as student protests at the Sorbonne and University of Paris erupted into a month of violent riots and labour strikes that crippled the nation and nearly toppled its government. Around the world, the French protests were seen as an uprising against authority and a widespread demand for a freer, more liberal society. Echoes of French May can be seen in dozens of social movements in the years that followed.
Like many people, Dekkers obviously views those events through a sentimental lens. L’imagination au Pouvoir celebrates the creativity and energy of that time with chaotic patterns and riotous prints that defy a lot of current style trends. Of course, her bold styles still utilize the multi-strap bra foundation that is Dekkers’ calling-card, so the pieces remain very wearable and somehow on-trend.
If I understand her correctly, its seems that for Dekkers there’s a direct connection between fashion choices and political ones. By referencing May 1968, Dekkers seems to be saying: The boldness and free-thinking that lets girls choose unconventional fashions can also drive social movements and overthrow conservative orthodoxies. Whew!
At this point, we’re not entirely sure what all is included in Dekkers’ spring-summer 2011 collection, since she’s rolling it out gradually (her memborable fall-winter collection ended up being three separate collections plus a Christmas grouping!). L’imagination au Pouvoir appears to be her new juvenile/youth range (she’s one of the few designers to do entirely different collections for younger girls), but we’ll have to wait to learn more.
Dekkers is well known for providing elaborate background materials to support her lingerie collections, as if she were curating an exhibit and not just selling undies. In the past, she’s released lecture-style videos and richly detailed magazines filled with background notes that explain her inspirations. No doubt there is a flood of explanatory material coming for the May 1968-inspired ranges, so stay tuned for more!