Players: Steve Drain spokesman for the Westboro Baptist Church; Leodee Dawson, a fashion journalist and Sven Marcelli, a male model
The Opening Serve: The Westboro Baptist Church, of "God Hates Fags" fame, is planning to picket New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center tomorrow. "WBC to picket the Slutwalk extraordinaire known as New York Fashion Week," they write on their website. "Can you say vanity any louder than at a fashion show? When you quit this life, do you think God will care who you were wearing?" In the New York Post today, spokesman Steve Drain expanded on why they've decided to picket, "You’re going to teach the women, especially the young women of this country, to doll themselves up ... All you are doing is teaching girls to be proud whores!” Drain added, "The whole idea [of the] fashion industry is to make women look as whorish as possible and men look as effeminate at possible...Put some jeans on and fear God...Forget about all this fashion nonsense." Drain continues, "The fashion industry is dominated by fags and fag enablers," Drain said. "So we’ll preach to them."
The Return Volley: The Post reports that "Security at Lincoln Center is taking this seriously because they fear the fashion crowd could be upset or offended by their protest and the messages on their placards." But players in the fashion crowd aren't taking the threats so lightly. "I would probably attack them if they said anything to me," said Leodee Dawson, a television fashion journalist, to the Post. "It’s not about making women look like whores... This is all high-end couture. How can Fashion Week make women look like sluts and whores? The shows I’ve seen are actually very conservative. The women were very covered." While others, like model Sven Marcelli cut the church's fashion sense down--with his words. "If they’re looking homely, they wont fit in,” said Marcelli. "They will be outsiders at Fashion Week. They won’t fit in. If they make a big deal, people here will fight back."
What They Say They're Fighting About: Whether Fashion Week is a "Slutwalk Extraordinaire." But first, can we take a minute to appreciate that choice phrasing? Obviously, Westboro sounds ill-informed for condemning designs they or anyone have yet to see. But, Dawson implies that couture and "sluts and whores" are mutually exclusive. So no one is really honing to strict logic here.
What They're Really Fighting About: Media Coverage. Fashion Week is an event solely made to be seen and photographed. Westboro knows this and trying to parlay the visibility of Fashion Week to make some waves and gain some airtime.
Who's Winning Now: Fashion Week. If any business is accustomed to protests, it is the fashion industry. Animal rights, anorexia, worker's rights, women's rights--there's no end to the social injustices fashion's been accused of perpetuating. But now Westboro has given the fashion business an opportunity to smooth over any wrinkles left by John Galliano's hate speech, including those designers and editors who came to his defense, by taking a strong stand against hate speech. Anyone's image could be improved by being named an enemy of publicity-hungry idiots.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.