Neither harmless nor distant. How Russian state conservatism combines emancipation and tradition to undermine women’s rights and suppress sexual awareness

Many in Russia are inclined to dismiss the bluster of state conservatism as a largely meaningless sideshow. After all, the nation’s laws protecting women’s rights remain relatively liberal, and even the loudest speeches by right-wing politicians have virtually no effect on the everyday lives of the denizens inhabiting Russia’s big cities, where women are part of the workforce, where they get proper healthcare, and where the state apparently doesn’t interfere in their lives. In an article for Meduza, European University at St. Petersburg Sociology Professor of Public Health and Gender Anna Temkina explains how Russia’s “conservative turn” is in fact quite real for many women. 

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Laura Craik on LFW’s digital emancipation

To covidiot, quarantini, WFH, self-isolating, R-rate, unmute and bubble, we can add another sexy new linguistic term: ‘digital activation’.

So it isn’t actually new (for those yet to encounter digital activation, it describes the integration of online marketing channels, the goal of which is to connect your brand with consumers — told you it was sexy), but thanks to London Fashion Week, it’s about to go mainstream. Think of it as like zooming, only with better hair.

By necessity, London Fashion Week will be different: gender-neutral, and also digital-first, with only a handful of physical shows versus 71 online presentations. So god bless digital activation, for enabling LFW to be one of the few international events still going ahead in this town. That these presentations will be accessible to everyone (go to for more intel) feels like the right move at the right time for an industry that has previously thrived on elitism. It shouldn’t take a global pandemic to flush out the pointless hubris of hierarchy, but it did. The front row is dead. Long live the sofa. Long live the butcher, the baker, the scented candle-maker and anyone else with an interest in fashion who can now freely watch London’s designers doing their thing.

What that ‘thing’ is has never been more anticipated or more fraught. Where will inspiration come from when designers haven’t been able to jet off to Bali, or even find it on the street? The streets have been empty, devoid of the trends they usually spawn. Besides, what role do trends play anyway, when there’s nowhere to wear them and only five other people to opine that they like your new skirt? Into this void, designers are charged with breathing new life and relevance, answering the question of what fashion is for, and what place it has in this mad new world. It won’t be easy, but if anyone can rise to the challenge it’s Christopher Kane, Vivienne Westwood, Jonathan Anderson and all the other British designers whose creativity seems only to thrive in difficult times. Good luck to all of them.

A frock away from the flock

What’s the dress of the season? It’s a stupid question. At least quarantine has finally killed off That Zara Dress. But what will people want to wear if they can’t be inspired by the people around them?

This is a fine time for the individualist but the sheep among us will be missing their flock. Hopefully shoppers will find their dream dress not from the high street but from fledgling designers who need their patronage more. Justine Tabak, Kemi Telford, O Pioneers, &Daughter and Olivia Rose are five small British brands whose dresses might turn out to be your dress of the season, with the added advantage that they won’t be everyone else’s.

Bare-faced cheek

In spring, the streets are strewn with cherry blossom. But as summer makes way for autumn, it’s not just leaves the streets will be strewn with. What’s blue, rectangular and saturated with potentially lethal pathogens? The face masks being discarded on pavements all over the city. Oy. Stop flinging. It’s minging. Who do you think is going to dispose of them when you can’t be arsed? The very people who need protection most: those on low wages, for whom studies show the Covid-19 mortality rate is higher. Street cleaners are essential workers and we should treat them with as much respect as any other essential worker. It’s called a bin. Use it.

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