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Heart on Her Sleeve

“Heart on Her Sleeve” is a social commentary regarding the multi-faceted expectations women face from the beauty industry, corporate world, and home, to beg the question: what would a modern woman wear to fulfill society's manifold demands of her while retaining her own unique flair?

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“Heart on Her Sleeve” is a social commentary on the demanding, and often conflicting, expectations placed on modern women. They must be strong yet subservient, independent yet constrained, bold yet delicate, loving yet powerful, warm yet desirable - the list of oxymorons is endless. This coat design unites the multi-faceted expectations women face from the beauty industry, corporate world, and home to beg the question: what would a modern woman wear to fulfill societies manifold demands of her while retaining her own unique flair?

The juxtaposition of the sturdy wool and the fine organza represent the impossible duality women are expected to adhere to. The wool demonstrates the strong, powerful, and reliable expectations of femininity while the sheer organza epitomizes the beautiful, delicate, and soft side of femininity. Both culminate in this coat, which represents all stereotypical ideals of femininity and the resulting façade that women must show the world.

The rounded shoulders, cinched waist, and full skirt is a nod towards the unattainable ultra-femininity that Dior’s New Look imposed on fashion in the 1950s. Since this new silhouette was impractical and constricting, women had to revert to their pre-war and oppressed societal role. By mirroring and exacerbating the New Look’s silhouette, this coat shows that although 70 years have passed since its advent, women are still expected to cater to the male gaze.

Similarly, the reoccurring curvature motif in both the silhouette and the design lines of the coat symbolize womanly curves. Even when wearing a coat, an garment that is known for its modesty, women are still expected to act as sexual objects, displaying their curves. Finally, the red is used to represent the two contrasting feelings of anger and love that woman feel towards their identity in society. While trying to embrace the positive and beautiful aspects of womanhood, one cannot ignore its resulting negative implications.

Overall, “Heart on Her Sleeve” utilizes visual language and symbolism to convey the duality and conflicting emotions of navigating modern society as a woman in an effort to reclaim this identity.

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