Black is beautiful and bold, it exudes power, strength, authority, but never in history has black been used so visibly as a means of protest. But, 2018 began with a change. A change that stood for a united 'black' protest against gender inequality, gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
And while just a day ago there were two major developments with regards to women speaking up against harassment and men standing up for women's rights – most recently, Asian-American Golden Globes winner Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by a 23-year-old photographer identified as 'Grace', while actor Mark Wahlberg decided to donate $1.5 million to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund in co-star Michelle Williams' name, after criticism over gender pay gap for re-shoot of the film All the Money in the World. Earlier this month, at the Golden Globes ceremony, Hollywood celebrities (including Ansari) graced the red carpet dressed in all-black attire, in solidarity with the #TimesUp campaign that was sparked as a result of the #MeToo movement.
#TimesUp was founded in 2018 in response to the Harvey Weinstein revelations and subsequent calling out of other alleged sexual predators that shook not just Hollywood but global artistes and the masses to the core.
"The all-black fashion movement on the Golden Globes red carpet created visual solidarity, in an extraordinary manner; plus, black has always been a color that exudes power, strength and authority. I think movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp encourage women to speak up against sexual harassment, which is a very serious issue today. We are hoping we can take this cause forward in an efficient manner and change things for the better," said designer duo Rimple & Harpreet Narula on being asked to reflect their thoughts on the movements.(Photo: Black outfits suggested by designers Rimple and Harpreet and Rutu Neeva in solidarity with the black fashion movement)
But can fashion be as powerful a tool to make a mark? Designer Anavila Misra thinks that it does. "I feel fashion as all other art forms has a much larger role to play in terms of social impact and cultural influences. I completely support the 'black fashion movement'."
Designer Rutu Neeva too supported the cause and opined that black is a formidable color and has the power to be heard. She said, "I believe that fashion has the potential to empower women across the globe. The ‘black dress’ fashion protest at the Golden Globes red carpet successfully managed to draw attention to the sexual harassment issues and start relevant conversations around it; plus, black is a formidable color and can make a statement both on and off the red carpet.”
And while everyone including the men, who supported the movement, showed up in black outfits, it was an extraordinary and overwhelming sight to see all the celebrities dressed in ensembles from different distinguished designers, all united by one color.
However, while fashion has been used as a tool to protest in the past, in the case of 'suffragette white' -- where a member of the militant British suffragette group the Women’s Social and Political Union, by the name Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, urged protesters to sport any of the three colors, white, purple or green, to mark their protest -- it is for the first time that we have seen the color black being used by celebrities/artistes to voice their anger and protest against the gender based discrimination and sexual harassment that women have faced for long.
"The color black has never before stood for unison and strength as it did for the black fashion movement at the Golden Globes. The labels that were worn on the red carpet were from diverse designers but nonetheless stood as one. I am grateful to be a part of this era, the shift of winds to witness women empowerment at it’s best," Sunaina Khera said.(Photo: Black outfits suggested by designers Sunaina Khera and Anavila Misra in solidarity with the black fashion movement)
Speaking about how much the #TimesUp campaign has impacted to highlight the sensitive issues of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, designers Saaksha & Kinni said, "The black fashion movement, the #TimesUp campaign have done much to highlight the issues around harassment in both the workplace and outside. Although much spotlight has been shed on this topic in recent months, there is a long, long way to go before any kind of gender equality exists in the workplace or otherwise. More women need to be brave enough to speak out against their male counterparts and more men need to stand behind the campaign. As stylist Phillip Bloch put it -- it’s not a competition, it's a sisterhood."
(Photo: Black outfit suggested by designer duo Saaksha & Kinni in solidarity with the black fashion movement)
Finally, ace designer Amit Aggarwal spoke about how everyone, including each and everyone one of us, need to speak up against these vices. He said, "I think it's about time we started speaking up against sexual harassment, which is rampant across all industries." "I personally feel that black is a non color and hence is apt for creating a visual protest. If we were to follow suit, I would propose a charcoal grey metallic tone for color," he added.(Photo: Designer Amit Aggarwal suggests charcoal grey as a color if India were to follow suit the black fashion movement.)