Teen model Halima Aden turned heads at Kanye’s Yeezy Season 5 fashion show Wednesday in a stunning hijab, strutting her first-ever catwalk and bringing diversity and politics on stage at this year’s New York Fashion Week.
Aden, a 19-year-old Somali-American refugee and model, was only recently signed to IMG Models, and the show was her debut.
This is yet another big first for Aden. She was also first woman to wear a hijab during a Miss Minnesota pageant and to wear a burkini during the swimwear competition.
With beauty and grace, Aden sent a message that models can be any religion, race, or background and carry that onto the runway.
“I signed with the top modeling agency in the WORLD and still wore my hijab as my crown,” read her Instagram post. “Don’t ever change yourself..Change the game.”
Aden is doing just that, and she’s not the only one.
Political statements filled runways all over New York proving designers now join the ranks of scientists, women and local immigrant business owners who have shared their dissent with the current administration.
From Christian Siriano to Bella Hadid and Adam Lippes, the runway was politically charged, sending a message of inclusion and support, and reinventing what it means to “dress like a woman.”
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) kicked off the week on February 9, when they launched the campaign “Fashion Stands” in collaboration with Planned Parenthood.
“Civic responsibility is an important CFDA pillar,” CFDA President and CEO Steven Kolb said. “Defunding Planned Parenthood will impact millions of Americans. We will raise awareness and support this fashion week and show that Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood.”
Pink pins that read “Fashion Stands” were distributed to designers, PR agencies, modeling agencies and industry influencers. Designer Adam Lippes posed with his pin, showing his support with handmade signs reading “My Body My Choice,” “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” and “Girl Power.” Front row guests received “Feminist AF” T-shirts from designer Jonathan Simkhai who donated $5 per seat to Planned Parenthood during his February 11 show.
Soon enough, political statements became the trend of the notorious fashion event.
Designers used their lineup as a platform for the issues that concern them the most, keeping up the momentum of movements like the Women’s March.
Mara Hoffman took an unconventional approach, using the voices of the four co-chairs of the march to recite lines from Angela Davis, Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde. Gypsy Sport shone a light on refugee displacement, lining the runway with tents. Opening Ceremony created sweatshirts that read: “Protest”, “Fight” or “Defy.”
Tommy Hilfiger sent all of his models down the runway in white bandanas to represent unity — a nod to suffragettes. The Business of Fashion collaborated with the Tomy x Gigi show to create the hashtag #tiedtogether.
“People Are People” was printed across the simple, black t-shirts that served as a staple of Christian Siriano’s show. The Project Runway season 4 winner featured ten plus-size models — many of color — to stand as a symbol of the diversity that Siriano embraces.
“We have to come together," said Siriano, who ended his show with the song "People are People" by Depeche Mode.
Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin partnered with the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist-activist-artist collection that has been fighting for women’s rights since the 80s. Trimming their jackets in faux gorilla fur, Lobo and Martin dressed their diverse models as freedom fighters of sorts.
To top it all off, Hillary Clinton made a guest appearance with her long-time supporter, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to commemorate Oscar de la Renta with a Forever Stamp Collection. She praised the late fashion designer, a Dominican immigrant and close friend of the Clinton family.
“Oscar de la Renta was an immigrant, as Mike Bloomberg has said,” Clinton said. “And aren’t we proud and grateful that he was?”
Needless to say, the fashion industry overwhelmingly showed it’s support for refugees and immigrants in style with statements as bold as ever.