beauty fashion

Femininity and Fecundity at Fashion Week

10:02:00 AMKaitlin Fellrath

A model walks down the runway in the latest haute couture. She executes an elegant turn to the audience and then strides away, the fabric of her clothing swaying with the movement of her hips. 

The baby in her arms smiles and laughs.

The Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana featured an interesting addition to their recent runway show - children. The entire show was structured around the theme of motherhood, with the word “Mamma” literally emblazoned on several pieces of the collection. Italian model Bianca Balti walked the runway at six months pregnant in an elegant dress that accentuated her growing form. Several other models and mothers walked carrying their babies in their arms. 

I am a woman of varied interests, priding myself on the ability to converse with others on politics, international affairs, and all things British (as anyone who has ever met me knows well). Fashion happens to be one of my less conspicuous interests. I enjoy examining the collections of each  fashion house and studying the latest trends. I can probably tell you at first glance if a dress is Elie Saab or Chanel.  

For me, fashion is an exercise in imagination. 

When admiring a particular dress, I dream about wearing it when I attend the Oscars as an award-winning actress, or perhaps even the inaugural ball as the first female president.

But fashion is also intended to convey beauty, in the same way as other forms of art. 

When executed well, it showcases the natural beauty and elegance of the feminine form. Fashion illuminates the natural beauty that all women possess. By drawing attention to the feminine form of a woman’s body, fashion reveals the inherent elegance of woman which surpasses any piece of haute couture.

What does it mean to possess feminine beauty? 

This is rather tough question to tackle for a piece that was supposed to be about dresses and babies. To me, motherhood is perhaps the best expression of feminine beauty. Simply put, a woman’s body expresses her capacity to be a mother. A woman has the unique privilege of carrying new life within her own body, which is designed to guard, protect, and nourish the living completion of love that dwells within her womb. Edith Stein, a German philosopher and Carmelite nun,  wrote that "motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life." 

By emphasizing the beauty of motherhood, Dolce & Gabbana imparts an important message to an industry that largely ignores this aspect of femininity. The Victoria's Secret show emphasizes feminine sexuality, but does not acknowledge the most unique feature of woman - her ability to carry new life. I think this cultural hesitancy to exemplify femininity by motherhood comes from the fear of reducing women to mere "baby factories."  

As a woman, I reject this view wholeheartedly. 

However, I argue that it is entirely possible to exalt maternity while recognizing that women are more than their fertility. The models who walked in the show excel in their careers, but many of them are also mothers. By showing female beauty in the context of motherhood, Dolce & Gabbana shows the fullness of what it means to be a woman.  

Those in the fashion industry watch runway shows to take a look at the latest trends. I hope that Dolce & Gabbana, by showcasing the beauty of maternity, make appreciation for the beauty of motherhood one of them.


 Kaitlin Fellrath   

I have a passion for classical literature, history and politics and I hope to pursue an academic career in international affairs. I write best while sipping coffee, listening to beautiful music and cuddling my cats. 


Images courtesy of New York Daily News, 1 March 2015.


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