Myriam Chalek wants New York Fashion Week to feel the effects of #MeToo very directly. Known mostly for her work as the organizer and designer of the “International Dwarf Fashion Show,” Chalek is organizing an event centered on the #MeToo movement.
The fashions and the show itself—set for Feb. 9 at a mystery midtown Manhattan location to be announced on Feb. 6—are less the purpose of the event than creating awareness about the movement, Chalek told The Daily Beast.
“A lot of times people forget that fashion is an art,” she said. “What is art? It’s a way of expressing yourself and you don’t really need to use words, it’s almost like a therapy.
“I spoke to many women and young females. Many times they get blamed for what happened to them. There is a strong connection between the clothes that somebody is wearing and the blame that society puts on the victims and survivors.
“Having this fashion show is a way to say, ‘Regardless of what you are wearing, it’s not your clothes that are guilty of what happened to you.’
“Is this fashion show going to make such a big impact that we are not going to have that anymore? Of course not, the only way to change things is to be united, to be a unity and stand up and say, ‘That is not OK, we are not going to accept this anymore, because that is not right.’”
NYFW is no stranger to activism: Becca McCharen-Tran of Chromat once used her platform to express thoughts on Donald Trump, and designers throughout the 2016 September shows used the opportunity to declare (albeit in vain) that #ImWithHer.
This past fall Tracy Reese’s presentation sought to challenge prevailing industry standards of beauty, and featured a diverse array of models who were given the unusual opportunity to speak about them themselves as part of the presentation.
The #MeToo event diverges from traditional fashion shows in other ways. It’s purposefully nonexclusive and open to the public. Models will wear garments that “visualize” their experience of sexual misconduct, and some will speak of their experiences.
However, not much more has been revealed about the particulars of the event, and the particulars of the event are veiled in even more secrecy than the average show, including its location.
The Eventbrite page advertising it boasts a tagline for the event: “Slap the Pig Outta Him!!!” which is featured next to a comic strip style drawing illustrating this action.
Chalek said that the “Slap the Pig” slogan was the French equivalent to the #MeToo slogan.
“I’m French, and we have the same movement in France,” she said. “This movement is all over the world, the difference between the United States and France, let’s say Europe in general, is that the emphasis has been put here, in the United States, on the victim and the survivor. In France and Europe, the emphasis has been put on the perpetrator of the crime.”
She hopes to “raise awareness towards sexual misconduct, not only sexual abuse, because sexual abuse, it is a criminal act… I think sexual misconduct is a better terminology to use for the #MeToo movement because many girls and many women have suffered sexual misconduct that is not punishable by law unfortunately.”