What do women think when they look at other women on the street?
For women, fashion can sometimes act as our own secret language. You pass another women on the street, and you can’t help but take notice of how she’s put herself together. You think, “I love what she’s done with her headband” or “I never would have thought those two patterns would look so great together.” You go home and you end up either inspired or comparing yourself to other women or some combination of the two. What is fashion? How does it change over time, and what does that mean to us?
Exploring these questions and feelings is exactly what the short-film series “The Way We Dress” is looking to unpack. Split into four parts, “The Way We Dress” takes the perspectives of four different female directors and their relationship to fashion in the world around them. You can see the whole series on Nowness.
Part one, “Notes on The Gaze.” directed by Chelsea McMullan, explores sartorial voyeurism in the director’s hometown Toronto. The shots of women walking are so casual and subtle, you can’t help but wonder if they know we’re looking at them — which is so often the case when it comes to street fashion. It’s meant to deconstruct “that feeling of gazing and being gazed upon,” according to McMullan. “If the male gaze wants to possess, or overcome a fear of, women, then what do I want?”McMullan wonders. “I think I want to be other women, to feel what it would be like to change bodies; to have a different hair texture, eye color, or body shape; to see myself through the eyes of another women.”
Part two “Two Much of Me” (which is, fyi, NSFW) was directed by Siri Buford and is a raw and, at moments, harsh examination of body-image and self-worth how we feel about weight and weight loss with subject Katie Kerr talking frankly and directly into the camera about her insecurities.
Part three, the most recent segment released just a few days ago, is set in Hong Kong, and takes a look at fashion, specifically in relationship to the elderly. Narrator Simone Rocha calls it a kind of poetry.
The next and final part, called “Separating Ourselves,” will premiere on the July 29 and promises to be just as introspective and through provoking. When fashion is often treated as superfluous or superficial, it’s comforting to see well-done work that takes it seriously. So know that when you get up in the morning and stare at your closet, you’re participating in an important and meaningful movement…even if you’re just getting back into pajamas.