Fashion and identity: How can fashion be used as a means of personal and cultural expression?

Mode et identité :  Comment la mode peut-elle être utilisée comme  moyen d'expression personnelle et culturelle ? - HYTRAPE

If clothing has as much capacity to reveal as to conceal, the latter is, indisputably, intended to be a vector of identity. Fashion has always been a communication tool, like an extension of our personality, almost like a second skin.

Fashion as a weapon of advocacy

For several years, Franco-Algerian designer Lisa Bouteldja has defied the dictates and prejudices of North African women, using fashion as an act of protest with ultra-bold looks. “Beurettocracy”, a neologism she invented, merging “beurette” and “aristocracy” and which symbolizes self-acceptance.

This second-degree approach highlights the way in which fashion is used to assert one's identity and play on stereotypes. A perfect illustration of a powerful visual language, for manifestation and personal reinvention.

In another context of exploring fashion as a means of questioning norms and promoting individual expression, Alice Pfeiffer, author of “Je ne suis pas parisienne, eulogy of all French women” (2019), broadens the reflection by studying the way in which the notion of “Parisianism” can be restrictive in terms of individuality and representation. A demonstration of how fashion can play an essential role in celebrating the diversity of French women, beyond the clichés linked to the capital.

A commitment present in the parades

As for designers, fashion has long been a playground for expressing their opinions. London Fashion Week, Spring-Summer 2013, Vivienne Westwood, pioneer of committed fashion, decides to raise public awareness with “Climate Revolution”, a fashion show focusing on the environmental emergency. Clothes with slogans and signs held up by the models make this moment a real call to action. From political activism to Human Rights, the designer uses it as a vehicle for demands.

The same goes for Vincent Frédéric-Colombo at CREOLE, which he considers as a manifesto around Creole identities and diasporas. The designer makes his shows true cultural stories by paying homage to traditions. A reminder that fashion transcends the act of dressing, to become a form of art capable of transmitting strong messages, of capturing societal and cultural essence.


Clothing, the result of a unique expression of each gender, culture, religion or ethnicity, is much larger than simple adornment, it becomes a stage on which each individual can play their own role, thus expressing their singularity.

Written by Camille Noel Djaleb

Instagram: cozycam