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Tom Ford put female empowerment centrestage at New York Fashion Week, kicking off the global Autumn/Winter 2018 season with models prowling the runway as cat women, very much wearing the trousers.

If the biannual style fest battles an identity crisis as top-name labels flee to Europe, the 56-year-old Texan-born designer turned movie director was not one to let the #MeToo movement pass him by.

On the first day of New York’s first women’s fashion week since the sexual harassment watershed exploded, the Ford woman of Autumn/Winter 2018 is an alley cat, a superwoman with a “Pussy Power” purse.

With barely a skirt in sight, the pant suit ruled. Models prowled the catwalk, their legs enveloped in tight pants, leggings or opaque tights of red, orange, yellow and green leopard print – messy hair kept off their forehead protest-style with black headbands, owning the streets.

If pink pussy hats were the uniform of women demonstrators against the Trump administration – a reference to the president’s use of a vulgarity on a leaked Access Hollywood tape to refer to women’s genitals – then Ford’s cat theme took the play on words to another level.

women power

A model walking the runway at Tom Ford’s Autumn/Winter 2018 show.

Even without the animal print pants, there were jaguar and zebra print kitten heels, tight lame leggings, a riot of sequins, patchwork and snakeskin on oversized coats, and boxy blazers – belted for business.

All eyes were on the models’ pins; apart from daring cut-out backs barely skimming the top of the seat and cut-out waists, there were few flashes of flesh. Dresses were restricted to high-necked minis.

In a throwback to hip-hop, models wore silver ball hoop earrings, and there were lashings of black – the colour actresses opted to wear at the Golden Globes to protest against harassment.

“Every single thing you design, at least in the luxury sector, has to be potent,” Ford told Women’s Wear Daily in an interview. “It has to be the most amazing thing. No one needs just another black skirt.

“I get calls from our store managers all the time saying we need more things that are more expensive. When (they) say more expensive, they mean more special,” he added.

His models, led by 16-year-old Kaia Gerber, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, debuted a new collection of cosmetics called Extreme and were watched by the likes of Julianne Moore and Zayn Malik.

Red Carpet Empowerment

Tadashi Shoji tapped into the post-Harvey Weinstein world by offering women a sleek red carpet collection oozing 1940s Hollywood glamour, modernised with cut outs, pleating and plenty of black.

women power

A sleek, powerful red carpet look from Tadashi Shoji.

Women, he said, must never apologise for what they choose to wear or for wanting to look seductive – regardless of how male harassers may choose to excuse predatory behaviour given a woman’s looks.

“So I did very sensual, sexy dresses, this time. Our dresses are about the empowerment of women and making a woman’s body look beautiful,” said the 70-year-old, Japanese-born designer.

“Women have the right to enjoy life. It’s ok. Why would you have to apologise? Men don’t.” — AFP Relaxnews

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