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- Written by Eman Jueid
- Category: Featured Partner: elan Magazine
One of India’s top designers, Manish Malhotra recently took to the run ways with Bollywood legend, Kajol and former Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen for the “Save and Empower the Girl Child” campaign. In a country in which modern ultrasound technology is being illegally used to weed out “female” fetuses, this initiative by India’s fashion icons is not only symbolic but also necessary given the far reaching effects of Bollywood in India. During a back stage interview Kajol said “In today’s time people should not think that women are less than men. I don’t think it is like that today. Basically, it is wrong and illiterate attitude.”
Another inspiring fashionista is Waris Dirie. A victim of female genital mutilation at the age of 5 in her native Somalia, Dirie is now an international supermodel and UN Ambassador, fighting to protect young girls from this heinous act of cultural ignorance that was subjected upon her. The model has not only stepped up to address the needs of at risk women and victims but has also called upon Western governments to become aware and active in handling culture based crimes in their countries, going as far as to say ‘If a white girl is abused, the police come break down the door. If a black girl is mutilated, nobody takes care of her. This is what I call racism.’
Australian design company “Caribana” has boldly crossed the proverbial culture line in an attempt to financially empower the women of a small rural community of Chitral in Northern Pakistan. The founders of the company live and work in the region where they have set up shop, giving the local women much needed opportunities to expose their embroidery skills to an international market. Although the company has garnered some understandable criticism, the women of Chitral themselves, seem to welcome the foreigners who have put them into a position in which they are earning more than most of the men in their community.
Closer to home is a noteworthy organization called “Fashion Fighting Famine.” Based in California, FFF “began as an idea in 2007 when a group of young women at the University of California, Irvine were compelled to do something for charity but were bored by the traditional means to support it.”
This group is a predominantly volunteer based fashion power house, that show case the talents of local designers and artists with a portion of their proceeds going to various charitable organizations. FFF has worked with Intellect Love Mercy to help fund humanitarian care packages to needy Los Angeles communities and also supported a widow’s cooperative in Mali. On June 3, 2012 the organization will be hosting their annual fashion show, with the charity of choice being “One Laptop Per Child.” When asked about this choice, the organizers of the show said “we believe that education is the foundation for solutions to challenges that impoverished communities face, like poverty and hunger. The laptops are rugged, low power, and connected to the Internet so they work for children living in the most remote and harsh environments.”
What is interesting about FFF is their unique view on fashion “We challenge the conception that less is more. It is not a question of whether modesty can be stylish; it is stylish. For goodness sake, Vogue can make a paper bag look stylish, so of course modest attire can be stylish.”
This year’s fashion show will feature Rana Greiche Couture, SixteenR, Vela Scarves, Marena Y Sol, Hijabista and Mohajababes. Fashion Fighting Famine also produces the “Flair by FFF” look book. From behind the scenes, to promotion to the runway, FFF is an expression of the creative talents of their volunteers and the organizations underlying intention to change the lives of those in need with fashion as their platform.
The fashion industry is traditionally thought of as a cut-throat, high stakes, competitive, lucrative and lavish affair. Although this definitely is the case, the presence of fashion in humanitarian endeavors has developed a soft side to the industry. With its multicultural nature and far reach, fashion is a very fitting medium to bring about international change and help communities in need. The designers, models and organizations that are involved in this cause have taken a precedent setting step in the right direction.By Summer Yasmin, Elan Magazine
This content is provided courtesy of Elan Magazine
*Photo Credit: alda chou
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