Virtue SS17 Collection | Exhibiting and curating communication design | Master of Communication Design | RMIT | 2017
Inspired by the ‘We should all be feminists’ T-shirt shown in Maria Grazia Chiuri’s S/S17 collection for Dior—the debut collection of the first female Creative Director in the fashion house’s seventy year history—Virtue seeks to interrogate the commodification of protest by proposing a fictitious high-end fashion label and collection appropriating the imagery and language of political and social activism.
In the speculative Spring/Summer 2017 Activist Collection, the label presents a decidedly avant-garde vision of the contemporary protester, elevating utilitarian staples to bold provocations and asking: can a t-shirt start a revolution? Can fashion bring about social change?
Part pop-up store, part luxury fashion collection preview, Virtue – Communication design, commerce and consumption: selling protest to the people is presented by RMIT Master of Communication Design students.
Video by Vân Trang Trần.
The complete Virture SS17 collection can be found here
The handmade banners, signs, posters and placards used by protest groups are an example of egalitarian, participatory design. They are often constructed with cheap or found materials, and simply and honestly express the individual’s voice. The Placard Pack is a sardonic take on over-designed and over-priced stationary, with the shape of the placards inspired by auction paddles. In prioritising aesthetics over customisation and integrity, it moderates and commodifies the voice of the protestor. The branding overshadows the content, and is marketed to create a sense of insecurity and ineptitude in any consumer considering making something at home.
The clenched first is an enduring symbol of rebellion and solidarity and has been used many protest groups throughout modern history. Early depictions, such as those used in the Soviet Revolution, include a tool or other symbolic object held in the fist, but by the 1960’s the fist had acquired enough cultural clout to be used in isolation. By accessorising the fist with obnoxious jewellery, the initial intention was to comment on the commodification of protest and reduce the fist to the role of hand model. However, the end result feels more sinister, evoking an outraged elite furiously denying their white privilege while simultaneously protesting against any challenge to their authority.