Why the apron is hot again!
From fertility goddesses in ancient Crete to kitchen goddess Julia Child; phenomenal women have always had a thing for the apron. And now the simple, yet symbolically complex cover-up is back, starring on catwalks, concert stages and of course, in my latest collection! This time, the apron is all about food, fashion and feminine feminism.
The word ‘apron’ comes from the French word ‘naperon’, meaning a small tablecloth. Yet, its role in history has been anything but small! In ancient Crete, it was the costume of fertility goddesses; in Egypt, the pharaohs liked to wear theirs encrusted with jewels. In Europe during the Middle Ages, aprons were worn by tradesmen as an emblem of their trade; English barbers did their job in checkered aprons, butchers wore blue striped ones, cobblers had ‘black flag’ aprons for protection from the black wax they used. Aprons were so ubiquitous, that at some point, tradesmen were even called ‘apron men’.
And here we are now; reclaiming the kitchen, and with it, a new type of apron that combines edgy fashion with phenomenal functionality and -why not?- sex appeal. Yes, we like to get our hands dirty, but not our Miu Miu dress. Juggling many roles at work and at home, our apron -be it a flirty, floral one or a minimalist denim one with leather straps and an iPhone pocket- creates a sense of being in control. (My current favorite is a beautiful gray ‘wrap’ apron by a company called Tilit; ten dollars per apron are donated to the Bad Bitches Grant Fund for women’s culinary education). In a way, the new apron is almost like a costume. Tying it on is like Super Woman slipping into her cape: you are now ready to do some serious self-nurturing! Enjoy!
Fast-forward to the 1950s, and the apron -flowered and frilly this time- has become a symbol of domesticated femininity; think of ‘I love Lucy’s Lucille Ball baking cookies in high heels and a sassy gingham apron. To 1960s feminists, who had been raised as mother’s little (kitchen-)helpers, the apron was far from cute and innocent; it was a symbol of oppression. So, when Betty Friedan kick-started feminism’s second wave, millions of women burned their bras and threw their aprons in the trash.
“Yes, we like to get our hands dirty, but not our Miu Miu dress.”
— Marlies Dekkers
Not so tv chef and cookbook writer Julia Child; she kept wearing her apron -made of blue denim, with a towel draped over the waist ties- with professional pride and dramatic flair. This was not an emblem of imprisonment, but one of pure empowerment! Julia’s passionate promoting of cooking as a creative outlet helped shape a new generation of feminists who have the freedom to embrace domesticity on their own terms.
Happy Women’s Day
Happy Women’s Day! I am extra excited about this edition, because wow, what a year it’s been for feminism! This is the year that we went global; that we showed up with our money, our bodies, our time and our voices to show the world: this is OUR time!
When I think of someone who is the embodiment of the highest level of expression, I have to think of German opera superstar Nadja Michael (47). This fearless feminine feminist is absolutely unforgettable in roles like Medea, Salomé and Lady Macbeth, performing phenomenally not just as a singer, but also a dancer and actress. How does she do it?
She started out as a contestant on the Norwegian version of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’; a few years later her debut single ‘Sunrise’ reached triple platinum status. But what makes Norwegian/Cuban star Alexandra Joner (27) such a feminine feminist icon is the fearless fun with which she expresses herself; in her singing and acting, but also in her fabulously sexy looks (often wearing marlies|dekkers, of course!). “I am fighting to make ‘sexy’ a positive thing!”
LUST for LIGHT
With her stunning staged photographs, Dutch artist Marie Cécile Thijs (1965) connects the past with the present in an intensely poetic, painterly way. Originally a lawyer, she decided more than fifteen years ago to follow her love for the camera. In just a short period of time, Marie Cécile became an internationally acclaimed artist whose works are included in the collections of museums like the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego. She has also presented her art at TEFAF (widely regarded as the world’s pre-eminent fair of art and antiques), Art Miami and Photo Shanghai. For her signature series ‘White Collar’, Marie Cécile photographed the only surviving 17th-century pleated ruff in the world, then digitally added it to her models for an almost surreal, mesmerizing result.