In less than 24 hours I have been inspired by two great women, Queen Victoria and Carine Roitfeld. I watched the movie Victoria & Abdul last night, if you haven’t watched it you should. It’s not the best made film but the message is inspiring. This morning I watched a Business of Fashion Voices talk with Carine Roitfeld and Halima Aden moderated by Tim Blanks and again I was floored with admiration for Carine Roitfeld.
Whether you are Queen Victoria or Carine Roitfeld one thing is true, you are part of the establishment. For Queen Victoria it was the British Monarchy, for Carine Roitfeld it is the fashion industry. Generally when you are part of a tribe, a prestigious one you want to conform, it’s human nature actually, we have the need to belong. This invariably means that we start to think and behave in the same way. Another reason for this is our competitive nature, we want to preserve our status in this tribe, so we don’t want to rock the boat too much.
Well Queen Victoria and Carine Roitfeld each rocked their own boats, so much courage is required to choose the less travelled path, it also requires vision. An instinctive urge to change the status quo. When you watch the movie you will see how Queen Victoria adopted the most unlikely of servants, a Muslim Indian. She was able to see the differences between them as a beautiful novelty (I won’t give any more away).
For Carine Roitfeld, the former French Vogue editor in chief, and now founder of CR FashionBook, an independently owned fashion publication, conforming may actually be a matter of survival. That didn’t stop her from following her instinct and adopting the first veiled model Halima Aden, catapulting the young Muslim woman from the obscurity of Middle America to the international fashion scene. At a time of heightened Islamophobia (France has suffered a great number of terror attacks in the past two years) Carine chose to highlight the beauty of diversity by endorsing Halima a Miss Minnesota beauty pageant contestant. Halima graced the cover of CR Fashion Book’s, becoming the first ever veiled model on the cover of an International publication. Her support didn’t stop there, Carine pushed for Kanye West and Max Mara to incorporate Halima into their runway shows.
There is a common thought process between the two women in spite of their century apart. They both speak of passion and intuition that guide their leap of faith, there is no strategy involved. In both cases their actions created a movement of sorts that impacted the world around them. Carine Roitfeld is playing an integral part in the conversation of diversity in fashion. As for Queen Victoria, history speaks for itself… it could have certainly backfired, but that’s what happens when you’re blinded by intuition, you just dive in no matter what…