States of Undress
Hailey Gates is a model, actress, and now host of Vice’s docuseries: States of Undress. The 25 year-old model have traveled different places of the world to explore how fashion is a direct link to the social-economics and political status of a country.
For many, fashion is a two way street: frivolous or a lifestyle; however, in States of Undress it also offers a new perception to fashion which may also serve as a voice to ones identity. Although, season 1 is almost over, Gates and her team have crafted each episode with intensity, brilliance, and a point of view that is hard to forget or ignore.
Venezuela: The Crown Effect and The Black Market of Basic Needs
It goes beyond the insight of beauty and fashion of each country. For example, in the episode of Venezuela – it projected the unbalanced view of Miss Universe and Mr. World effect as being a ticket for a better life.
As the episode progressed, Gates met aspiring contestants that will do anything to be the next winner. From extreme surgery transformation to children starting as early as four years-old the intense training of beauty pageantry. Because Venezuela has the highest rate of winners, the Crown effect has embedded into their culture. In other words, the greatest desire of most women is to look like a beauty queen. However, the country faces another threat that is beyond dangerous and often illegal medical procedures to achieve physical beauty –it is the lack of basic needs.
After president Chavez passed away, the country is facing a financial drought. Hailey lived a terrible reality when she needed to buy feminine pads and the stores were empty. She had to pay almost $200 for a small pack of Always through a re-seller which is considered an illegal activity. As a woman, I would have paid the amount and cried of happiness because Gates lived this situation while she was shooting in the country. I highly doubt anyone from middle to lower class income could afford every month $200 for a small pack of feminine pads when here in the USA that same pack sells around $4 to $6 maximum. Hence, the encouragement to gain the crown is also achieving a frail dream of money and stardom. I call it frail because at the end of the day, there’s only one winner.
Russia: Homosexuality, Nationalism, and Putin-Fashion
In another episode, Gates visited Russia where the sense of nationalism and pride of the country has increased since Putin came into power. Also, another factor that incremented this national pride is the bad blood between USA and Russia. Whereas, fashion week is filled with national designers and some of these designers have Putin-centric designs. Yet, what caught Gate’s attention that this sense of pride also showcased the need to impose Putin’s views of the ideal structure of society.
Shortly after USA pronounced gay marriage as a law, Russia also responded with the release of the Straight Flag. It is illegal to be a homosexual in Russia which is horrible! Under Putin’s laws, homosexuality is a sin and not allowed to exist if possible because the ideal family structure is between a man and a woman.
Another notable activity that occurs in Russia is the need for women to marry young and to assure that if you’re a woman one must follow certain rules to seal the deal. According to the matchmakers Hailey met, for Russian men (according to them) a woman cannot look too fashionable or too intellectual because it will most likely decrease her opportunity for marriage. What is curious about the interview was the matchmakers photograph choice of a Miu Miu campaign featuring Gates and another model. Sadly, Hailey’s campaign ad was the example of what not to do.
Why is it a Must-Watch?
By far the most revealing episode is Pakistan. Because fashion is a force of expression through fabrics and structures. Yet, this is an episode that deserves your viewership and not just me writing about how engaging and eye-opening this episode is.
Collectively, States of Undress is fascinating and a must-watch. Gates shows that everything is connected by a thread that creates a ubiquitous society with a complex and artistic layers that is often hard to fully understand unless one goes there like Hailey did. Can’t wait for season 2. Watch every Wednesday States of Undress on Viceland or on Viceland.com
Click the link to watch the trailer of States of Undress.
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