“I think [bicycling] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”
Susan B. Anthony, civil rights leader, feminist and suffragist, discussing in 1896 how the advent of the bicycle rapidly moved the evolution of women’s fashions—pantaloons and all—forward. She continued, “It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
“My old vintage designs are so popular now. I must have been on to something.”
—Pierre Cardin, fashion designer (working from about 1945 to the present), from a 2008 interview with WWD magazine. Cardin’s futuristic fashions were a hit in the 1960s, later criticized as silly and impractical, and then rediscovered and celebrated in the 1990s. Cardin was born on this day in 1922. To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here.
“[Fashion] extends her authority to the minutest details of our lives; tells us when we must eat and when we must strive to amuse ourselves. She turns day into night, ignores our comforts, disposes of our money and our time, and engages in successful war even with Nature itself.” — Possibly written by Constance Wilde (Oscar’s wife) and published in an 1888 editorial in The Rational Dress Society’s Gazette, which fought to abolish inhibitive women’s garments.
Photo: By Richard Avedon for Harpers Bazaar, September 1961; models Margot McLendry and China Machad wearing Lanvin Castillo and Jacques Heim.
To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here.
“If a woman never lets herself go, how will she ever know how far she might have got? If she never takes off her high-heeled shoes, how will she ever know how far she could walk or how fast she could run?” —Germaine Greer, feminist author
In honor of Independence Day, enjoy this reminder of the badass contributions of women toward the country’s freedom, performed whether sartorially single-minded or not. Below, cheeky Inez Milholland often led suffrage parades on horseback. Milholland fought for women’s independence throughout her adult life, which was cut short at age 30 when she died from complications from pernicious anemia. Her last public words were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here. To read about a few sartorially minded French feminists, read the Story Behind the Style.