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Unashamed, Unapologetic & Unbelievably Unique – this is Leah Vernon

November 13, 2019 11:37

She is Black, she is Muslim, she is fat, a Plus Size Hijabi model, an activist, public speaker, a role model and so much more. And it is not only her combined attributes and professions that make her especially unique, but also the way she works and inspires across several media. Leah gathers her energy and content creation on so many platforms in order to spread her messages and reach out to as many people as possible.

And quite frankly, she is more than successful with that. By now, she has garnered over a million views combined and has been featured in over a hundred media platforms, from The New York Times to Buzzfeed. Her content entails daily vlogs, turban tutorials, blog articles, interviews, experiential essays, and now even her very own book. She is a total allrounder and with her contribution to the body positivity movement it is no surprise her popularity is increasing rapidly, while at the same time being a big topic of hot discussions and backfires.

Regarding the intrinsic motivation behind her work, one might say it is a radical selflove act, others argue for a niche, in which she is pleasing a market place feminism just like every other “girl power” campaign. Nonetheless, her take on challenging social structures with a white-dominant, heteronormative and patriarchal stance and imbalanced power relations is rather refreshing. Her statements tend to be just as bold as her outfits she displays regularly on her Instagram account (@lvernon2000). But as you guessed it, Leah is not your average fashion blogger. As an advocate of a social movement she does most certainly not hold back and unapologetically critiques the fashion industry, which unfortunately still excludes people like her - Black, fat, and Muslim people, or everything combined.

Just like our twerking and beloved #YasQueen Lizzo, Leah Vernon was born in Detroit and is the kind of woman who eats obstacles for breakfast. So, she uses social media to speak her mind and truth to power. It might seem hard to believe, but Leah Vernon has not always been in such a strong and beautiful state of mind. Her journey has indeed been a difficult one and is probably an ongoing one as well. But Leah´s story is probably one a lot of women and men can relate to and it seems like her fanbase is more than thankful she captured her thoughts, stories and experiences in her new book, Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim. She can now add “author” to her imposing list of professions.

The book functions as a sort of evolution of her blog (Beauty and the Muse) on which she shares everything from every day life hacks to furthering discussions on body positivity since 2013. Despite her eye catching, colour-blocking and bold book cover,  the content is a pinch more intimate than one could imagine in the first place and could be described as a revealing and healing memoir. Vernon talks openly about mental health issues, divorce and its emotional consequences, abuse, and her own relationship with her weight, race and faith. The book, just like life is per se, is a rollercoaster ride full of love and hate and captures the self-acceptance struggle that many of us deal with pretty well.

As a woman who grew up in a bubble where Leah could not fully express herself and rather hid her true emotions in order to please the people around her, her progress is very inspiring. She says and writes down whatever she thinks could help others and evokes feelings, which is rather rare these days. Her words are raw and risky but very much needed and appreciated. Whether you are Black, or fat, or Muslim it feels damn good to know that you are not alone in this fight against outdated racial and gender tropes, fat shaming, misogynistic stereotypes and wrong power relations within religion and society. Thanks to boss babe Leah, one can feel once more like the baddest bitch in the room, even without shapewear!

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The employees in the boutiques, in the design studio and in the backstage area at fashion shows wear white lab coats, as was common in the ateliers of the great couturiers, e.g. Christian Dior, and is still common today. The fashion shows for the high-priced fashion sometimes took place in the context of the Paris Prêt-à-porter shows in unconventional locations, up to shabby surroundings (construction site, metro station, dining room of the Salvation Army etc.). The boutiques are kept in plain white and gray. Margiela originally selected unspectacular locations such as a residential area in Tokyo and did not publish the addresses of the boutiques in order to require the customer to make an effort to find the store at all. The first Margiela store opened in Tokyo in 2000 and the first European boutique was inaugurated in Brussels in 2002. In 2008, a boutique opened in a basement on the edge of Munich's Maximilianstrasse. This was followed by participation in numerous exhibitions, including "Radical Fashion", which was shown in 2001 at the V&A Museum in London. In 2010 there were 36 own stores worldwide.  In 2015 there were over 50 stores worldwide, including boutiques, that only carry the MM6 collection.

The company followed a very restrictive communication policy. The designer can neither be photographed nor interviewed. Only his creations should speak for themselves and the designs should be perceived as the overall performance of the team. That's why the team always shows up in white doctor's coats after the fashion shows - nobody should stand out.

By recycling old fashion, separating, recoloring, reversing seams and zippers, both the origin and the artificial of the art of tailoring are shown. Margiela puts together what doesn't belong together: by hand, jeans turn into skirts, old army socks become pullovers. Baptized by the press as deconstructivism, this current is defined by an abrupt collision of different materials, which at first glance appear inharmonic in the sense of conventional viewing habits. Margiela herself rejects the term "deconstructivism". He resurrected clothes in a new form, he told ELLE in 1991.

Margiela was the unofficial 7th member of "Antwerp 6", a generation of fashion designers who all completed their training at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1980-1981 and shaped the "style of the Belgians". However, it does not belong to the actual group, but it became known in a similar period.

The Japanese "Street Magazine" dedicated two special editions to "Maison Martin Margiela", which were published in book form in 1999. Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga) is a big fan of Maison Martin Margiela.

In July 2014, fashion critic Suzy Menkes exposed Matthieu Blazy via Instagram as Head of Design, after which he deleted his Instagram account and changed his profile in a career network. He left the company on October 1, 2014.

To this day, Margiela pieces, especially in the fashion industry and all fashion lovers, belong to the sanctuaries in every repertoire and archive. Getting vintage pieces from other designers may be possible, but Maison Martin Marginal Archives are a real hunt and that says it all about this art.