By Amy-Willard Cross
Forget super models. Some Super Women walked the runway this New York Fashion Week. Apparel company Carrie Hammer made history by signing some of New York’s most accomplished women to show this very smart clothing line at Launch NYC.
The theme of the show, “Role Models, not Runway Models,” puts an entirely different and positive twist on things. These were not just “real women,” but women you would really like to be. The role models are philanthropists, entrepreneurs, successful comedy producers, and even a Miss America-turned powerhouse. It shows not just how you might want to look, but how you might like to be. It fits the philosphy of the company itself, as Carrie Hammer was inspired to start her company after hearing — one too many times — the advice to “dress for the job that you want, not the one you have."
Oh, and Hammer put the whole thing together in only three weeks, working her women’s networks and social media. The designer wanted the show to be fun and inspiring, and she thinks she pulled it off — in part by infecting everyone with her ecstatic mood. She likened the atmosphere to “a sleepover for CEOs!” The CEOs had fun, too; one kept on calling her fellow dress-wearers “supermodels.” That's just how they felt. In an email interview, Hammer says, “I was more pleased seeing the dresses on them than any professional models I've ever worked with. The dresses are made and designed for these women, so it fit their bodies and attitudes perfectly!”
For years and years, we've heard that many women don't like to see clothing displayed on underage, undernourished bodies — that modeling apparel that way makes some women feel badly about themselves, their looks, and their bodies. These women's self-metrics wouldn't be waist size and pounds, but revenue, millions of views, or lives improved. In its coverage of "Role Models," France's "Le Monde" even asked whether fashion could be feminist. Sure, magazines have used "reader models" and "real women" in their spreads, but this marks something entirely new by showing non-models on the runway. Real, live women live! Designer Donna Karan did the same thing this February, too — using people who represent New York's street style. At Paris's fall shows, Rick Owens had dancers show the clothes in an amazing performative display.
Founded in 2012, Carrie Hammer makes fashionable professional clothing; customers can choose from standard ready-to-wear designs, or commission a totally custom piece. The company has an ardent fan base already, after a successful Kickstarter campaign last year. Prior to fashion, Carrie Hammer worked in advertising sales — and she might be one of few in the apparel business who has a degree in women’s studies.
The Role Model show recruited about 20 very accomplished women — many who wear her clothes in real life — to work the catwalk. Here are a few women we'd like to be, wearing dresses we’d like to own.