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  • On the 26th September 2013, a feminist group called FEMEN conducted a topless protest at the Nina Ricci runway show during Paris Fashion Week SS14. Slogans scrawled across the protestors' naked torsos included, "Model Don't Go To Brothel", "Fashion Fascism" and "Fashion Dictaterror" .

    Among, other sexual and social issues, FEMEN have brought the plight of exploited Ukrainian women to public attention. Female Ukrainians are being duped by the offer of travel abroad, then being forced into prostitution and the miserable existence of a sex slave.

    FEMEN's protest at Paris Fashion Week was conducted, in their words, " condemn the anti human industry of fashion." The activists believe that the fashion world is exploiting women, because the industry is a determining factor for the sex industry and unfair beauty standards.

    FEMEN call their form of protest "Sextremism". However, does Sextremism really go to extreme lengths for the sake of the cause, when it relies upon the lowest common denominator with the minimum amount of effort? In a desensitised western culture, can topless protest still be thought of as radical? Consequently, does their campaign get easily brushed aside and labelled as a flash in the pan publicity stunt, after the spectacle is over?

    Alternatively, a new campaign might consist of FEMEN visiting newsagents and buying up the entire stock of let's say Vogue magazine. Once, the magazines are in their possession, FEMEN would visually alter the layout of each publication, page-by-page. Text based articles, photographs and advertisements could be amended within the magazine to subvert the original message. Manifestos, essays, slogans, illustrations, cartoons, drawings, paintings, posters, text cut-up techniques and pre-printed stickers could be added to each magazine.

    Afterwards, activists would covertly reinstate the printed material on the shelves at the shops, where they were originally bought. This form of subversive protest could also be implemented on many other types of magazines, newspapers and printed media on sale in newsagents as well as elsewhere. Furthermore, if the magazines are lawfully bought at the shop counter, I doubt that FEMEN would be breaking the law. However, only 25% of the magazine layout could remain in its original state, otherwise copyright law might be breached. This activity would target people at grass roots level as opposed to FEMEN's usual aim of the high profile, upper echelons in society.

    A focus on innovative and creative planning might be the catalyst that sparks a renaissance for FEMEN. Most of their causes hold great weight, but some might say that they are the proponents of over simplified and non substantive claims, where the fashion world is concerned. For instance, there is an argument that runs parallel with FEMEN's "Fashion Fascism" campaign that the film industry is to blame for violent crime in society. The film industry argument, usually espoused by the conservative right-wing has been proven wrong, when placed under close scrutiny. It would be pertinent to say, fashion has to be viewed as a tight-knit, homogeneous entity, for FEMEN's claim to hold water. FEMEN and not the fashion industry have to successfully argue these points. We shall see what the future holds, time will be the true litmus test. Who shall remain standing by the next generation, fashion or FEMEN? Whatever the conclusion, both parties will eventually change.

    FEMEN Website:

    Nina Ricci Website:
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