Remember Pretty Woman and Julia Roberts in those thigh high latex boots and an outfit so scant that it had to be covered up? Well, the fashion world seems to think that prostitute chic is very cutting edge, and many women agree

 

This season our runways were filled with latex, lace, and interestingly, fur. Three materials commonly associated with sex, and relatedly, prostitution. Now you may argue that women have every right to wear whatever cuts and materials they please, and should not be assumed to be selling themselves for the pleasure of others. And of course this is absolutely true in today’s world. However, recent trends seem to be shining a bright light on the attire of prostitutes from history, who could frequently be identified by their dress. Louis Vuitton gave us a selection of white fur coats, Dior gave us thigh high pink latex boots and Alassandra gave us a beautiful selection of lace — all fabrics that make a not so gentle nod towards sex work.

It seems bizarre that women choose to dress in styles that according to history and the public eye, demean them. But we should consider that maybe designers are taking a stand of sorts, asking us to stop associating certain careers with the clothes we put on our backs. However, does that remove the fact that designers are essentially choosing to glamorise an industry that has resulted in much misery?

Modern-day prostitution is seen as a last resort, a loss of morals and self esteem. Much like pole dancing, stripping, and essentially any other job choice that prompts a woman to play on her sexuality. We marginalise these women even though some of us rely on them to provide a service no one else will.

Vogue writes: ‘this balancing act between appearing sexually available without being branded a “slut” is one the modern woman understands only too well’. For decades women have faced a kind of discrimination that tells us men can do what they want and we are just pawns in their game; that those of us who have sex are sluts. We have been conditioned to believe that women who enjoy sex are despicable.

Maybe the better question is whether or not sex work should be seen as demeaning or as simply another expression of independence and control? When it first arose, prostitution was the only way for a woman to earn a living, giving her independence to buy her own things and no longer be the property of her father. In today’s world where the fight for independence and equality is so strong, it is awful that women are judged and demeaned for having certain types of jobs. This judgement doesn’t exist for men. Male strippers are seen as manly and desirable, whereas women are frequently regarded as disgusting and used.

It cannot be denied that sex work certainly has its dangers; rape, pregnancy, STIs and in some cases serious abuse and murder. It is hard to imagine that in the modern era prostitution would be a career of choice for any woman. Certainly most people see sex work as something you would turn to in desperation. Many trans women have turned to sex work due to discrimination in the workplace, and many students turn to prostitution to pay for food.

There certainly is a kind of glamour attached to some areas of the business, escorting for example. Many naive women and girls happily believe that there are people to buy them the kinds of clothes the fashion industry promotes, with money earned by being considered ‘good company’. But do these clothes even introduce a reality or are designers deluding us with their tales of furs and stockings meant for a world that is purely fictional? Fiction or not though, should we be advertising this kind of world to young girls?

So is it appropriate for designers to treat sex work like a fashion statement? Is fashion’s current obsession with thigh boots promoting independence and freedom of choice, or making a not-so-subtle hint at a dangerous business? It’s down to you to decide.